Alex Matches – Regimental # 18648 – A Short Career in the RCMP

Alex Matches – Regimental # 18648 

A Short Career in the RCMP

One of the great things about being on the Vancouver Division Executive and writing some historical pieces for our web site it often enables me to connect with former members of the Force I otherwise would not have met.  I met Alex Matches who served five years in the Force, leaving “time expired” via e-mail.  He joined the RCMP June 07, 1954 and left June 06, 1959.  Alex spent a good part of his time with the Force on Musical Ride tours.  He was gracious enough to share with me many of the photos he has of his time on the Ride.  He also provided me a copy of a document he prepared for his family about his time with the Force.  He has fond memories of his service, albeit short, with the RCMP. 

Alex Matches – Reg # 18648

Alex Matches grew up in Vancouver and like many leaving high school in June of 1953 he had no plans for his future.  He took a job with CP railway but was to be laid off after the Christmas season.  A co-worker told he was applying for the RCMP and why didn’t Alex join him.  Seven months later, Alex, a strapping 154 lbs, nineteen-year old, attended Fairmont Barracks, June 7th, 1954, signed all the paper work and was sworn into the RCMP.  He was handed a train ticket leaving that night for Regina.  He never saw his co-worker, who enticed him to apply, again.  His time in Regina was short as he and his new troop mates left Regina June 11th via train to do their training in Ottawa.

After his arrival at “N” Division Alex was assigned to No. 12 Squad and a couple of weeks later he was assigned Regimental # 18648.  The first four months and four days were taken up mostly with equitation training with some time spent at the RCMP camp at Long Island during the summer to learn canoeing.

After completing training in April of 1955 his early days were spent on the Protective Branch, “A” Division, including the “The Hill”, the Mint, Rideau Hall, the Bank of Canada, the Supreme Court and something called “riverbank patrol” – patrolling all the government parking lots along he Ottawa River.  I wonder how many members assigned to “The Hill” after training wondered “why me?” After months of arduous training I am sure all recruits expected to be out doing real policing duties after training.

In 1956 he was transferred to “K” Division.   This lasted a month and it was back to Ottawa for the 1956 Musical Ride touring in Canada and parts of the U.S.  After the Ride was completed it was to “K” Division for a short period of time and then he was recalled to Ottawa for the 1957 Musical Ride.  This tour was in the United Kingdom.  He again returned to “K” Division doing various duties, relieving in Banff during the summer and it was back on a horse for the tourists. 

Alex doing the tourist thing at Banff Springs Hotel

He decided to leave the Force after doing his five years, as he felt he was behind his peers due to his time on the Musical Ride and was not getting exposed to real policing experiences.  He left the Force and returned to his home in Vancouver and joined the Vancouver Fire Department and served thirty-three years rising to the rank of Battalion Chief.

Alex  Matches – Vancouver Fire Department

Alex is also the unofficial historian for the VFD and has written three books on the history of the VFD.  His fourth book, which I just received a copy of, is called “Police Boat, Fire Boat”.  It details the history of the RCMP Patrol Vessel St Roch and the first VFD Fire Boat J.H. Carlisle.  These two vessels were built in North Vancouver by the same builder with consecutive hull numbers and launched in 1928.

If you are interested in Alex’s latest project “Police Boat, Fire Boat” he can be reached at matches7403@gmail.com or 604-535-4237.  He lives in Surrey.  Cost $12.00 if picked up at his home or $15.00 if mailed.

Ric Hall 24394/O.1330

Photograph of retired RCMP Superintendent Ric Hall (Source of the photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

 

2020-06-12

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