A Brief History of the President’s Gavel & Vancouver Division




At the last General Meeting of 2017, before the summer break, President Donna Morse asked if I would do some research on the names of past presidents of the Vancouver Association etched on the President’s Gavel box.





Upon opening the box there was the gavel and knocker inside laying on some bubble wrap. Upon closer examination, there was an envelope under the bubble wrap containing two documents authored by Past President Dave Turnbull in 2004.

The first was a letter explaining the President’s Gavel and Case dated December 24, 2004;

“We ran out of space on our old gavel stand or base to mount any future plaques to recognize past president.   Therefore, I took it upon myself to construct a new one.   A few words about this project and the end result might be in order.

The gavel is the mallet, the case if variously known as the gavel case or the gavel mount and the third piece is the knocker which is also known as the striker.

The gavel stand is made from teak wood that I was able to secure from a wood products recycling company. The purple colour trim is known as purple heart, the gavel head and striker are from an Alberta tree known as Caragana Bush or Caragana Tree. I chose this particular piece of wood because it is from a Caragana Bush that I planted for my mother in 1952 the year I joined the RCMP. I removed this piece from the bush in 2002 therefore I can say with a lot of certainty that it lived for 50 years and will hopefully live on for many more years in it’s second life.

Teak has a very high oil content and is therefore left unfinished with the exception of maybe a little teak oil and wax. At the time of its construction the teak was a middle brown colour but it will likely darken considerably over the years. The fact that the name plaques are nailed to the case is because of the high oil content of the teak.   Given time this oil would penetrate the double backed tape usually used to mount plaques and cause them to be released. Inside the case I have left a sample of a plaque which gives the size and colour to be used along with the nail hole placement for future plaques. I have also left a quantity of mounting nails so that the conformity might be maintained. You will note that there is space left for 15 name plaques.   This should be sufficient until the year 2034.

For old times sake and obviously for the last time, I will sign off the way so many of us did while on detachment in the in the “Good Old” days.

I have the honour to be sir, your obedient servant,

Reg # 18011, S/Sgt. Turnbull, D.C.”

The following document also found in the gavel box outlines a brief history of the RCMP Veterans’ Association – Vancouver Division.

“As a part of a project I am doing for the National Executive Committee, I came across some very interesting material which I am sure will be of interest to members of our Vancouver Division.   This material in the main is a report prepared by M.J. “Joe” Olson, Reg # 10372, whom many of you old timers will surely remember. Joe was president from 1967 to 1968. My initial interest was kindled when I took possession of our gavel and stand to mount the names of our last two presidents. On that base is the name Major Arthur Edward Snyder, Officer # O.58, Joined With Commission, (JWC), the NWMP in 1885, Charter President, 1913. The next sequential name in 1920 is Lt. Col. Lawrence William Herchmer, former Commissioner, Officer # O.72, Joined With Commission, (JWC) the NWMP in 1887. (Officers often retained their rank equivalent from the military or were given an honourary rank upon retirement). I asked Bob McKee if he was aware where I might find any historic material about our association and God Bless him he recalled reading this old account.   Thankfully, he was able to find it again and I am reproducing it for your enlightenment.”

“It would appear that it was in the early spring of 1913 that some old timers met and decided to place and advert in the local newspaper announcing that a meeting would be held for ex-members of the NWMP to get together and discuss the possibility of forming an association and it was on May 19, 1913 that a first meeting was held in the hall of the Anglican All Saints Church on Victoria Drive in Vancouver at the invitation of the minister, the Rev. Cannon, ex-Sergeant Major Henry Charles Lewis Hooper, Reg # 878, who joined the NWMP in 1883. Hopper served at sea in the Merchant Marine, had fought in South Africa, later became an ordained Minister of the Gospel, who was most interested in this proposal of an association composed of Veterans of the NWMP and RNWMP.  

About seventy ex-members of the Force attended this meeting and retired Commissioner, Lieutenant Colonel, L.W. Herchmer chaired the meeting with Acting Secretary Percy Sewell Howard, Reg # 4101, taking minutes and Charles Robert Filtness, Reg # 3095, Treasurer.   A motion was passed unanimously accordingly and then a committee was struck to study By-Laws and a Constitution which was subsequently adopted and passed.

Elections have been held in November each year, and the new Officers installed at that time and take over.   From the beginning Vancouver was known as “A” Division right to 1969/70 when Dominion Headquarters ordered that all Divisions should be called by their geographic names. Our division was from the start recorded and registered un provisions of the Societies Act in Victoria as the R.N.W.M.P Veterans’ Association and annual reports were submitted.

It should be mentioned that in early years a group of old timers in the Calgary area decided to form an association and in 1901 a convention was organized which appeared to be successful in forming an Association.   A constitution was drafted and officers elected and an emblem drafted.   The South African war erupted at about this time and by 1910 the Calgary Association had all but died away. Shortly after Vancouver started up a new association and a delegation visited Edmonton and Calgary to form associations and as a result new life was breathed into the association and shortly after other cities across the country were organized over the succeeding years. Edmonton was named Dominion Headquarters in about 1924 but Headquarters returned to Vancouver in 1935. Later Calgary was to take on the Headquarters designation and was known as “E” Division, Calgary held that distinction until the mid-1950s when the association opted for Ottawa being better suited by reason of the Seat of Government and central, where it remains.”

“That concludes Joe Olson’s report and for that information we are thankful. It however has been pointed out to me by “K” Division types that there is a discrepancy. I am told that Edmonton formed the very first association in about 1890, some ten years before Calgary, but it appears not to have lasted very long. I now know where I can get some more information about this and it will be passed along when available.   In the meantime, we Westerners can take some satisfaction from knowing that our association had its roots in the west. Anyway, someone once said, or if he didn’t say it he should have, “if we don’t know our history how do we know who we now are?

Regards Dave Turnbull”

“A” Division RCMP Veterans’ Association By-Laws – later the Vancouver Division

I located a history of the Edmonton Division of the RCMP Veterans’ Association written by Donald George Fraser, Reg # 15922, in 1991.   In it he wrote the following: “The RCMP Veterans’ Association, however, really got its start in Vancouver, BC, prior to the spring of 1913 when several ex-members met and were talking over old times, spinning a few yarns and enjoying each others company.”

He mentions the meeting held on May 19th, 1913 with about seventy members present at All Saints Church… “The members present enthusiastically declared that an association should be formed and a motion to that effect was carried.”

“Elected at the first organizational meeting were:

                        President: Lt. Col Herchmer – Ex-Commissioner

                        Vice President: Lt. Col J.H. McIllvee DSO -Ex Assist Comm’r

2 nd Vice President: Major A.E. Snyder – Adjutant

Secretary P.S. Howard

Chaplain: Rev. H.C. Lewis Hooper

Executive Committee:

  1. desBarnes

                        S.H. Goodall

  1. Burgoyne
  2. Latimer
  3. Mathewson
  4. Meaken

His report offers a bit of a discrepancy as to who was the first President of the Vancouver Division. Snyder shows on the President’s gavel box and the history prepared by Dave Turnbull with Herchmer taking on the roll in 1920

The following is a listing of all individuals who served as President for the Vancouver Division of the Veterans’ Association:

1913     President               Major Arthur E. Snyder – Officer # O.58                                        

1920     President               Lt Col. Lawrence W. Herchmer – Officer # O.78

1921     President                John J. Roberts – Reg # 884

1923     President               Rev. H.C. Lewis Hooper – Reg # 878

1927     President               H.C. Lewis Hooper – Reg # 878

1928     President               Charles W. Whitehead – Reg # 1577    

1929     President               Charles W. Whitehead – Reg # 1577             

1930     President               Stephen Garnham – Reg # 1246                               

1931     President               Stephen Garnham – Reg # 1246                    

1932     President               Sidney Marshall – Reg # 2438                            

l933      President               Stephen Garnham – Reg # 1246 

1934     President               Stephen Garnham – Reg # 1246 

1935    President               Stephen Garnham – Reg # 1246  

1936     President               Stephen Garnham – Reg # 1246                  

1937    President                R.F.B. Smiley – Reg # not found

1938     President               Thomas C. Goldsmith – Reg # 3989/O.222   

1939     President               Thomas C. Goldsmith – Reg # 3989/O.222       

1940     President               Thomas C. Goldsmith – Reg # 3989/O.222       

1941     President               William J. Bowdridge – Reg # 2357                      

1942     President               Charles R. Filtness – Reg # 3095                      

1943     President               Charles R. Filtness – Reg # 3095

1944     President               Charles R. Filtness – Reg # 3095

1945     President               Llewellyn M. Lloyd-Walters – Reg # 4741              

1946     President               Edward A. Simmons – Reg # 7741           

1947     President               Jim Fripps – Reg # 4870/O.246                                

1948     President               Hugh A. Stewart – Reg # 6461                         

1949     President               Jim Fripps – Reg # 4870/O.246

1950     President               Jim Fripps – Reg # 4870/O.246

1951     President               Jim Fripps – Reg # 4870/O.246

1952     President               Theodore B. Hutchings – Reg # 5387/O.280              

1953     President               Theodore B. Hutchings – Reg # 5387/O.280

l954      President               Jim Fripps – Reg # 4870/O.246

1955     President               Jim Fripps –  Reg # 4870/O.246

1956     President              Edward A. Simmons – Reg # 7741                

1957     President              Edward A. Simmons – Reg # 7741

1958     President           Theodore Hutchings -Reg#5387/O.280                             

1959     President           Theodore Hutchings -Reg#5387/O.280                             

1960     President               Edward A. Chamberlain – Reg # 10634                 

1961     President              Edward A. Chamberlain – Reg # 10634

1962     President               Edward A. Chamberlain – Reg # 10634

1963     President              Edward A. Chamberlain – Reg # 10634

1964     President               James T. Lines – Reg # 10841                                    

1965     President              James T. Lines – Reg # 10841 

1966     President              William J. Durnin – Reg # 11269                               

1967     President              Mical J. Olsen – Reg # 10372                              

1968     President              Mical J. Olsen –  Reg # 10372                               

1969     President               Johnny Doyle – Reg # 11768                       

1970     President               Roland K. Gervin – Reg # 9909                           

1971     President               Roland K. Gervin – Reg # 9909

1972     President               Roland K. Gervin – Reg # 9909

1973     President               John W. Duggan – Reg # 14049                              

1974     President               John W.Duggan – Reg # 14049                              

1975     President               H.F. MacNaughton –  Reg # not found

1976     President               H.F. MacNaughton –  Reg # not found

1977     President               John Doyle –  Reg # 11768

1978     President               John Doyle – Reg # 11768

1979     President               Roland K. Gervin – Reg # 9909

1980     President               Roland K. Gervin –  Reg # 9909

1981     President               Roland K. Gervin – Reg # 9909

1982     President               Roland K. Gervin – Reg # 9909

1983     President               John W. Duggan –  Reg # 14049                

1984     President               Frank Brien – Reg # 12846                                 

1985     President               Frank Brien – Reg # 12846

1986     President               Frank Brien – Reg # 12846

1987     President              Frank Brien – Reg # 12846

1988     President              John W. Duggan – Reg # 14049                

1989     President               Paul Starek – Reg # 14796                                     

1990     President               Jim Warren –  Reg # R1422                                     

1991     President               Bill McCheyne –  Reg # 15156                               

1992     President               Bill McCheyne –  Reg # 15156                               

1993     President               Bill McCheyne – Reg # 15156                       

1994     President               Bill McCheyne – Reg # 15156                        

1995     President               John Hooper – Reg # 176/O.942                                 

1996     President               John Hooper – Reg # 176/O.942                                  

1997     President               Dave Turnbull – Reg # 18011                             

1998     President               Dave Turnbull – Reg # 18011                          

1999     President               Jim Druchet – Reg # 19556/O.1073             

2000     President               Jim Druchet – Reg # 19556/O.1073                               

2001     President               Les Holmes – Reg # 19209/O.844                            

2002     President               Les Holmes – Reg # 19209/O.844                               

2003     President               Bill Schindeler – Reg # 17781/O.790                             

2004     President               Bill Schindeler – Reg # 17781/O.790                             

2005     President               Alf Erickson – Reg # 21108                              

2006     President               Alf Erickson – Reg # 21108                              

2007     President               Ed Wilson – Reg # 18942 /O.914                             

2008     President               Ed Wilson – Reg # 18942/O.914                              

2009      President             Bob McKee – Reg # 22026                                  

2010     President               Bob McKee –  Reg # 22026                                  

2011     President               Dick Hawkshaw – Reg # 21132                       

2013     President               Tom Quilley – Reg # 19526/O.1089                  

2015     President               Keith Leishman – Reg # 22222                       

2017     President               Donna Morse – Reg # 31800                               

Photographs of (left) first President of “A” Division (Vancouver) Lawrence Herchmer (in 1913) and current President – Donna Morse (2017 – 2018)

Prepared by Ric Hall 24394/0.1330

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage