Columbarium Added to Fort Saskatchewan Cemetery

RCMP Veterans’ Association

Veterans Helping Veterans and Their Families

This information is being provided to all Association Members

Creating A Future Resting Place For Members Who Have Passed

Dear Association Members,

Edmonton Division Past President, Kees Kikkert with the help of Bob Stewart, Newsletter Editor has written a fascinating article on the steps Edmonton Division took to create a columbarium in the RCMP cemetery in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.
As you will note in the article, this was a long and convoluted process but Edmonton Division persevered and succeeded.

This is an excellent example of the unstinting work that our volunteers in the Divisions provide to the Association.

We can all be exceptionally proud of the work of Edmonton Division in achieving such an outstanding conclusion to this project.

What follows is the article  and then an article from a Fort Saskatchewan  newspaper, The Record

James Forrest
Director of Communications
RCMP Veterans’ Association

Veteran and current members of the RCMP line up for roll call on Wednesday at the Fort Saskatchewan Cemetery before rehearsing what they would do for the columbarium dedication ceremony later in the day. (Derrick Ferry).

Planning Ahead Again 

On December 7th, 1895 the NWMP purchased the first formal cemetery near Fort Saskatchewan for a sum of $75 for 25 single plots.  When asked why, they said, “Just planning ahead”. 

At that time a NWMP constable earned from $1 to $1.50 per day.

Since that time the cemetery has grown, however, in 2012 Joe Collinson, the Edmonton Veterans’ Association resident specialist on RCMP graves, brought to the attention of our Division, the Cemetery had only 16 grave sites remaining.

To resolve the shortage, he suggested a columbarium be installed in an area within the bounds of the cemetery which was not designated for plots.  He indicated most families are opting to cremate remains over a full coffin burial service.  This addition would alleviate space problems well into the future. 

The columbarium

In 2015 it was learned through our RCMP Liaison member that K Division was unsure who had the authority to purchase a columbarium.  Therefore, President Jerry Plastow prepared a letter addressed to the Commissioner outlining the current shortage of room at the cemetery and requesting the installation of a columbarium.

That letter went through channels to HQ’s Ottawa.  Nothing was heard until 2017 when W.O. Kevin McGillivray enquired about the project. It was learned the Division CO had authority to initiate a non-competitive construction contract up to $40k. 

At this point Kees Kikkert volunteered to take over from Joe Collinson and press on with the project.  Matters to consider were; the columbarium size and the type of granite to be used which was intended to match that of the columbaria at Depot.
In April 2018, Kees and veteran Tom Hutchison met with the City of Fort Saskatchewan to explain the plan.  The City Manager fully supported the idea to installation a new columbarium within the RCMP area of the Fort Saskatchewan Cemetery. 

In May of 2018, the Edmonton Veterans’ Association presented an approved financially cooperative plan to the C.O. ‘K’ Division to purchase a 96-niche columbarium.  The plan would share the total cost of the columbarium installation between the RCMP and the Edmonton Veterans’ Association. 

Confident in the project proceeding, in June 2018 the Association contracted the columbarium pad installation.  We were then notified the procurement plan with two bids attached did not meet the requirements of the National Bidding Process and as such had to be re-bid Nationally.  Public Servant Mavis Callihoo worked with the Association toward the desired outcome.  Without her knowledge and diligent work, giving the project its final push to the finish line, the project might have failed.

To everyone’s delight, the columbarium procurement project ended triumphantly with the Force’s purchase of the columbarium.  On 2019-09-11 at 09:11hrs the columbarium was put in place at the Fort Saskatchewan RCMP Cemetery along with two granite benches purchased by Edmonton Division.  Total cost commitment for the concrete pad and benches to Edmonton Division was $12,760.00.

Outside of Depot, this is the only other RCMP Columbarium, however, the Battleford, Saskatchewan RCMP Cemetery will soon have one installed there. 

The Dedication of the Columbarium was held on the 23rd of October 2019.  The Commanding Officer dedicated the installation of the columbarium and our Veteran Chaplin Cyril Gowler blessed the site.

Chaplain Gowler Blesses The Site

The Record
Derrick Ferry
Fort Saskatchewan – The Record
Octobert 31st., 2019

On Oct. 23 old friends, family and colleagues dressed in uniform and gathered to pay their respects to fallen friends and to dedicate a new columbarium for future RCMP officers who find final rest. The ceremony was held at the RCMP Cemetery located within the Fort Saskatchewan Cemetery.

The new Alberta RCMP columbarium is 96 inches long and will house the cremated ashes of veterans and officers who pass away in the future.

Joe Collinson places a wreath for the veterans on Wednesday during the columbarium dedication ceremony held at the Fort Saskatchewan Cemetery. (Derrick Ferry.)

The initial idea for the columbarium was introduced by veteran Joe Collison. Collison was part of numerous meetings and logged many volunteer hours to ensure the project was completed. Thanks was also given to Kees Kikkert, a veteran who worked with the RCMP and who headed up the columbarium project.

Tom Hutchison, a former councillor for the City of Fort Saskatchewan and a veteran of the RCMP, was on hand to give thanks to both Collison and his former station chief Kees Kikkert. He also had some nice things to say about the city.

“When I retired from the force I could have gone anywhere in Canada. We never even thought about moving, never even thought about it,” said Hutchison.

Deputy commissioner Curtis Zablocki, the commanding officer of the Alberta RCMP, said as part of a press release that Fort Saskatchewan was chosen as the location of the columbarium because of its significance in the storied great march west.

“We were the second outpost ever established by the North West Mounted Police,” said Hutchison.

Zablocki also said in the press release that the columbarium will help with the important task of maintaining the history of the RCMP and honouring those who have past.

“This columbarium will provide a final resting place for our members as well as a beautiful and meaningful place for quiet reflection,” said Zablocki.

The march begins. Veteran and current members of the RCMP march to their places during the columbarium dedication ceremony on Wednesday at the Fort Saskatchewan Cemetery. {Derrick Ferry.)

The benches surrounding the columbarium were donated to the site by the RCMP Veterans’ Association, providing the area with somewhere to sit and quietly reflect.

Other RCMP columbaria in Canada can be found in Beechwood National Memorial Cemetery in Ottawa and the RCMP Depot Cemetery in Regina.

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