Cpl. Ernest Pasley’s Contributions

Photograph of Ernest Pasley in the Royal Navy




Ernest Pasley joined the Force as a young man seeking travel and adventure.  While in the Force, he contributed to the Force’s presence in the Arctic and was selected to be the original skipper for the RCMP’s “St. Roch”






Ernest Pasley was born on September 12, 1889 at Sheffield England and was the son of William and Sara Ann Pasley.

As with most young men, he sought adventure and opportunity to travel.  At the age of 16, he joined the Royal Navy and served on many ships: HMS Ganges, HMS Hoyne, HMS Vivid, HMS Hannibal and HMS New Zealand.

While on the HMS New Zealand and at the age of 18, Ernest was becoming a disciplinary problem for his superiors. His Royal Navy disciplinary file reflected the following sanctions for insubordination:

    • 1907 – 7 days in cells;
    • 1908 – 14 days in cells; and
    • 1908 – 30 days in cells.

On December 21, 1908, he was discharged from the Royal Navy as having an “insubordinate disposition” but his character was described as ‘very good.’

Once out of the Royal Navy, Ernest secured a position as a fireman with the Electric Supply Department in Sheffield, England and worked there for the next three years.

Photograph of the old Sheffield Electric Plant


Despite having a secure job and being close to his family, Ernest decided to immigrate to Canada in 1911.

After working two years at a variety of jobs in Canada, he applied and was accepted into  the Royal North-West Mounted Police on August 9, 1913.  Upon being engaged into the Force, Ernest was assigned the regimental number of 5720.

As with all new members of the Force, he undertook his basic training at ‘Depot’ Division in Regina.

Photograph of RCMP 'Depot' Division in 1913


Two years before Ernest Pasley joined the Force, two white hunters were killed by their Inuit guides near Bathurst Inlet.  The two white hunters were one American hunter named Harry Radford and a young Canadian surveyor named George Street.

Map of eastern Arctic with locations noted

An Inuit native, from Bathurst Inlet, traveled across the Arctic tundra to the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Chesterfield Inlet and recounted the story of the murders to the Hudson’s Bay officer.

With these details of the noted murders, the Hudson’s Bay officer reported the information to the RNWMP members stationed at Fort Churchill because the nearby Fullerton RNWMP Post has been temporarily closed.  Upon receipt of the news, the members at Fort Churchill reported the details to the RNWMP headquarters in Regina.

Upon receiving the information, Superintendent Cortlandt Starnes was tasked to assess the situation and develop a plan to investigate these murders.

In developing this plan, Superintendent Starnes assessed the realities of the situation in 1913-1914:

    • There were no roads or railways accessible to the Hudson’s Bay or Bathurst Inlet;
    • Only one white man had ever made the journey from Chesterfield Inlet to Bathurst Inlet and that was Samuel Hearne – a Hudson’s Bay explorer.  In December 1770, Samuel Heame left Fort Churchill with two guides.  They walked and canoed for the entire journey which took them 10 months to complete.  Hearne only survived with the aid of his guides and the limited game available;
    • To transport a large quantity of supplies to the eastern Arctic, the only available means available was by a ship arriving in Hudson’s Bay from eastern Canada;
    • Between January and April of each year, the Hudson’s Bay is totally frozen over.  In the remaining months the sea ice slowly melts and permits ships to commence transporting goods;
    • With no trees 20 miles north of Fort Churchill, the eastern Arctic was a barren waste land of ice and snow with temperatures well below zero in the winter;
    • Dog sled teams were the only mode of transportation in the winter months on the Hudson’s Bay area and in the eastern Arctic.  Over the Arctic tundra in the summer time, a canoe and portaging was the best choice;
    • At this time, the Force had limited experience in the eastern Arctic.  In 1903, Superintendent John Moodie travelled, on a ship from Halifax, to the Hudson’s Bay and established two RNWMP Posts on the Hudson’s Bay: Churchill and Fullerton;
    • For each of these posts, all the prefabricated buildings, supplies, coal and equipment had to be transported via ship to sustain the Force members.  Each summer, the Force arranged with the Hudson’s Bay Company to bring in food, supplies, and coal.  Usually, each post would receive between 11 to 14 tons of coal each year;
    • Despite the Force having limited experience in the Hudson’s Bay area, the Hudson’s Bay Company was well established in the area and had been there since 1670 with their network of outposts and agents who traveled to isolated areas.   Their headquarters was situated at York Factory – 120 miles south-east of Fort Churchill.  The majority of supplies brought in and taken out of the Hudson’s Bay was by way of ships when there was minimal ice on the Bay;
    • Inuit from Baker Lake and other parts in the interior of the eastern Arctic frequented the Hudson’s Bay Post at Chesterfield Inlet; and
    • Supt. Moodie had experienced many difficulties in acquiring and directing supply ships to support the needs of these two posts on the Hudson’s Bay.  Consequently, he repeatedly recommended to the Commissioner that the Force have a dedicated schooner that could be devoted to supplying and supporting these RNWMP posts on the Hudson’s Bay.  Each of these requests had been rejected by the Force’s Comptroller.

Based on his assessment of the above geographical and logistical challenges, Superintendent Cortlandt Starnes made the following recommendations to the Commissioner:

    • The murders took place in a peculiarly inaccessible area of the Arctic and the efforts would be difficult and tedious.  To capture the individuals responsible for these murders would take the best part of two years;
    • The expedition team should consist of one officer, one non-commissioned officer, two or three constables and a good interpreter;
    • A sea worthy schooner should be purchased to transport and be based in the Hudson’sBay to support this expedition;
    • The schooner should depart from Halifax and travel to the Hudson’s and navigate their way up Chesterfield Inlet to Baker Lake.  Once at Baker Lake, a post would be established; and
    • From this post, the expedition would travel overland to Bathurst Inlet to conduct their investigation and locate the individuals responsible for these murders.

Upon receiving Superintendent Starnes recommendations, the Commissioner forwarded his report to the Force Comptroller who in turn briefed Prime Minister Robert Borden.  Prime Minister’s response was to approve the Baker Lake Expedition and added that the expedition team was to “establish friendly relations with the tribe, secure their confidence and carefully inquire into all the circumstances.” [1]

It was also viewed at the time that such an expedition would be “of special importance for several reasons. They were journeys of discovery for the police; few white men and no member of the Mounted Police had seen the territory which was to be covered.  There were significant from the point of view of police-Inuit relationship, for the police on these patrols met men who had never before seen a white man, let alone a representative of the government.  The patrols were important in emphasizing Canadian control over the central Arctic coast.  Nothing establishes sovereignty over an areas more clearly than effective policing of it.[2]

In proceeding with this expedition, the RNWMP Comptroller approved the purchase of a schooner to transport the men, supplies and equipment to Bake Lake.

For the schooner, the Canadian government purchased a Lunenburg built 99 ton topsail schooner called the  “Village Belle.”  Captain Lockhart was assigned the responsibility of operating the schooner.

Photograph of Inspector Walter Beyt of the RNWMP

Inspector Walter James Beyts was appointed to head the Baker Lake Expedition.  He had risen from the ranks and was promoted to Inspector on January 30,1911.  Beyts had many years of experience in the north having been posted to the Peace River and Dawson areas.  In addition, he served in the Canadian Mounted Rifles during the Boer War.

Upon being briefed and accepting this assignment, it is claimed that Inspector Beyts responded by saying “it is all in a day’s work.”

After the announcement of this expedition, several Ontario newspaper reports suggested that this expedition was a punitive assignment for Inspector Beyts.  However, the Force Comptroller responded by denying this suggestion in several Ontario newspapers.

To support Beyts, Sergeant Major Thomas Caulkin was transferred to the expedition.  He volunteered for this expedition when he was stationed at Maple Creek.  At the time, Thomas Caulkin was described as a member who ‘showed some promise’ having only been in the Force for seven years and had been promoted quickly through the ranks.

Two recently graduated recruits were voluntarily assigned to this expedition:

    • Constable Alfred B. Kennedy (Reg. 5626) who had previously served 10 years in the Royal Navy and was a skilled map-maker; and
    • Constable Ernest Pasley who also had considerable Royal Navy experience.

Between the time that Ernest Pasley finished his “Depot” basic training and departing on the expedition, he was delegated to be a ‘stoker’ of the coal furnaces at “Depot” Division.

On April 14, 1914, the patrol members departed Regina on an eastbound train destined for Halifax.  Upon arriving in Halifax, they were kept busy loading expeditionary supplies onto the schooner.  Prior to departing Halifax, the schooner contained:

    • 60 tons of coal;
    • Three years supply of food; and
    • Lashed down on her deck were the makings of a small pre-fabricated wooden building which would serve as their shelter for the next two years.
At the commencement of this expedition, Constable Ernest Pasley frequently recorded his duties and observations in his RNWMP notebook.  His initial entries were in ink but quickly changed to pencil as the temperatures dropped below zero.  This notebook has survived and has been passed down to his granddaughter – Linda Hillaby.

Photograph of Cst. Ernest Pasley RNWMP note book started in 1913

The following details of the Baker Lake Expedition and the career of Ernest Pasley were gleamed from:

    • Reports of the Royal North-West Mounted Police reports to the Canadian government;
    • books on the Arctic and the Force; and
    • the details contained within Ernest Pasley’s notebook.

On July 30, 1914, the expedition departed Halifax.  Owing to unusually bad weather and problems with their new schooner, the expedition did not reach the Chesterfield Inlet until late September 1914.  As such, there were unable to establish a Detachment at Baker Lake.

With weather closing in and the Hudson’s Bay freezing up in December, Inspector Beyts felt that it would be most appropriate to construct a temporary post at Chesterfield Inlet settlement and be in close proximity to the Hudson’s Bay Company post and the Roman Catholic missionary.   It was Beyts’ plan to move the expedition with their building and supplies to Baker Lake in the summer of 1915.

Photograph of the Village Belle and her crew

Upon docking anchoring off shore from the Chesterfield Inlet settlement on October 1, 1914, Ernest Pasley wrote in his notebook –  “Priest from the Roman Catholic Church came aboard and arranged to have natives pilot the boat near the Hudson’s Bay Post.  Ship was unloaded.” 

Then on October 7, 1914 recorded the entry –

All hands were used to build a Detachment from material which we brought from Halifax.  With no trees or bush for shelter, the wind blew down the Detachment on October 8.  Local guides were hired to assist the team. (Then on) October 10, 1914: With wind and snow, the Detachment was rebuilt and the stove setup and provided warmth.  Next came the task of building furniture.

Photograph of Fullerton RNWMP Post

In his report to the Commissioner in 1915, Inspector Beyts commented on the quality of their prefabricated post –

I would like to remark further with regard to the portable detachment building, although I have referred to this before in my reports previously rendered, I feel I cannot permit my report to go without making a few remarks relative to the unsuitability of portable dwellings for this northern country. 

During the past winter, it has proved a very cold dwelling and despite all efforts to improve its defects, we have not been able to secure anything that may be termed real comfort.  When the thaw set in we were constantly deluged with melting ice from the roof interior, the ice had to be frequently chopped down with a spade, then the rain and sleet came, leaked through the roof, and ran down the walls inside the quarters, wetting almost everything bedding, food, etc., and it has required constant observation to keep our stores from being spoiled.  I would recommend that we be supplied with lumber and felt paper, sufficient to place on another layer of each throughout the building, as in the course of its removal from here, and re-erecting at Baker Lake, I am certain it will not be improved.” [3]

After unloading the supplies and equipment for the Baker Lake Patrol, Captain Lockhart headed 500 miles south to Port Nelson to prepare the ship for the forthcoming freeze up of the entire Hudson’s Bay.

At the Fullerton settlement, the expeditionary members acquired four teams of dogs with eight dogs in each team.  It would be these sleds and dogs that would provide them with transportation during the winter months.

On January 1915, Insp. Beyts set out to Fort Churchill to send his reports to the Commissioner on the conditions at Chesterfield Inlet and outline his plans for the forthcoming year.  In addition, he needed to meet with Captain Lockhart, at Fort Nelson, to discuss how the schooner “Village Belle” would be needed to assist them in the summer of 1915.

Insp. Beyts’ patrol south consisted of:

    • 12 dogs and two sleds;
    • two Inuit guides: Bye-and-Bye and Sullivan;
    • Constable Ernest Pasley; and
    • 900 pounds of supplies (30 days of rations for the men and 12 days ration for the dogs).

Beyts’ patrol averaged 20 to 30 miles.  At the end of each day, the two guides would construct an igloo for the night and Ernest Pasley would feed the dogs before settling down for the night.  On many days during this journey south, Constable Pasley recorded their activities and achievements.  The following image is a typical entry that Constable Pasley made in his notebook.

Photograph of Cst. Ernest Pasley RNWMP notebook entry

The below-zero weather, the heavy sledding and the lack of game en route placed havoc with their dogs.  One dog was killed because it went mad and four other dogs were killed because of starvation.

On January 27, 1915 with temperature 48 below, Constable Pasley and the two guides were harnessed up to help pull the sled.  They continued this pulling until they reached Fort Churchill on February 16, 1915.

Photograph taken by Cst. Ernest Pasley of his dog sleds

Their journey of 500 miles was completed after 32 days of travel.  Insp. Beyts would describe their journey in his report to the Commissioner:

We had a hard trip down owing to deep snow while on land, and the rough ice whilst travelling on the sea, and I must say Constable Pasley and the two natives worked hard on the trip, as they were in harness for a good many days helping the dogs out. 

Every night the natives built an igloo, and it took about an hour to build.  We carried a primus lamp with us, and we used this to cook our food, and to warm the igloo, also to dry our mitts.  The frost keeps dropping off the roof, and one’s bedding and clothing is wet and frozen for the whole trip, without any means of drying them.” [4]

Upon arriving at Fort Churchill, Constable Pasley was suffering from snow blindness so he remained there to recover along with both guides.

Beyts secured a new 7 dog team and the assistance of Corporal Edward J. Cronk (Reg. #5136), of Fort Churchill Post.  They then pushed onto Fort Nelson to meet up with Captain Lockhart.  After their meeting, Insp. Beyts returned to Chesterfield Inlet on dog sled completing the round trip journey of 1,333 miles in 56.5 days.

While Beyts and Pasley were away, Thomas Caulkin patrolled to east of the Chesterfield Inlet and was able to obtain statements from Inuit individuals who corroborated the original report that Radford and Street had been murdered.

During the summer of 1915, the team waited patiently for the schooner to arrive with fresh supplies and help to establish the Baker Lake Post.  Storms and accidents delayed the ship’s arrival.

On August 19, 1915, the schooner “Village Belle” returned to Chesterfield Inlet and all the supplies were loaded.  The schooner reached Baker Lake on September 9, 1915.  Due to mechanical problems with the schooner and high winds on the lake, the captain felt it was unsafe to make it to the west side of Baker Lake.  As such, Inspector Beyts decided to establish their post at the east shore of Baker Lake.  Once the schooner was unloaded, it returned to Fort Nelson to prepare for the freeze up of the Hudson’s Bay.

Insp. Beyts pushed forward with plans to establish supply depots on route to Bathurst Inlet.  However, the expeditionary team were plagued with problems: small engine in their small boat failed; tiller on a second boat broke; two oars were smashed; the boat hook went overboard; tent caught fire; and lantern broke.

Despite these problems, they were able to establish a supply depot only forty miles west of their Baker Lake post.  This achievement was made in spite of the bitter cold, incessant storms, lack of game, scarcity of timber and fuel.  Of the twenty-four sled dogs they had set out with, six had died of starvation.

According to Insp. Beyts account of their work in establishing the supply depot, he described eastern Arctic as “the hardest country to travel in that I have ever experienced in the Force.” [5]

On October 10, 1915, Constable Ernest Pasley arrived from Fort Churchill aboard the Hudson’s Bay coast boat bringing 11.5 tons of coal.

For the fall of 1915, the expeditionary team spent most of their time setting up and organizing their new post.  In the winter of 1915-1916, an advanced camp had been established at Thelon River.

Photograph taken by Cst. Ernest Pasley in the RNWMP/RCMP of an igloo

In his report to the Commissioner, Inspector Beyts described his observation on the consequences of the lack of game in the Arctic –

I saw a party moving camp with one dog, two women, and a native hitched to the sledge.  Another instance I encountered was that only six dogs were left amongst ten families.”[6]

In reading Insp. Beyts’ reports on the conditions at Baker Lake, the Commissioner acknowledged the exhaustion of the sled dogs but also recognized the exhaustion of Insp. Beyts.  As such, he ordered Inspector Frank French to travel to Baker Lake to take command of the expedition.

July 1916 - Photograph of  Akular, Cpl. Conway, Cst. Kennedy, Cst. Pasley and Joe. Insp. Beyts and S/M Caulkin taken at Baker Lake. (Source of photo - Library Archives of Canada).

July 1916 – Photograph of  Akular, Cpl. Conway, Cst. Kennedy, Cst. Pasley and Joe. Insp. Beyts and S/M Caulkin taken at Baker Lake. (Source of photo – Library Archives of Canada – Ref.#:RG18 Vol. 2160, 20-28).

French arrived on September 9, 1916 on board the coastal boat “Nacopie” which was  delivering coal to the Chesterfield Inlet settlement.  He found Beyts exhausted and weak.

On presentation of the Commissioner’s transfer orders to Insp. Beyts, Insp. French took command of the expedition.  These orders also required Insp. Beyts and Constable Pasley to return on the waiting coastal ship to begin their travels back to Regina.  Sergeant Major Thomas Caulkin would remain with the expedition and had learned to speak the native language.

Both Beyts and Pasley departed Chesterfield Inlet on September 16, 1916.  In his notes, Constable Pasley made an entry stating “Inspector Beyts had been sick for the past two months and was low in spirits.”

On September 20, 1916, Beyts and Pasley were met at Fort Churchill by Superintendent John Moodie.  Moodie led the group back to Regina by travelling down the Nelson River to portage to The Pas then continue westward to Prince Albert then land transportation to Regina.

According to Constable Pasley’s RNWMP personal file, there appeared to have been a conflict brewing between himself and Inspector Beyts.  The personal file revealed that Ernest Pasley had been charged and sentenced at Baker Lake by Insp. Beyts for two offences:

    • June 16, 1916 – Disgraceful conduct- Fined $20; and
    • July 10, 1916 – Disobedience – Fined $10.

None of the other members on the expedition received the same level of special treatment from Inspector Beyts.

On August 8, 1917, Constable Pasley was discharged from the Force as “Term Expired.”  Then six days later, he was accepted in the Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve as a Ordinary Seaman and later served on: HMCS Niobe, HMS Vivid, HMS and HMS Emperor of India.  After completing, two years in the Naval Reserve, he re-engaged in the Force on April 23, 1919.


Upon re-engaging in the Force, Ernest Pasley was transferred to Dawson where he was promoted to Corporal on February 5, 1921.

Photograph of Cst. Ernest Pasley stationed at Dawson and pictured with sled dogs

In the proceeding five years, he was transferred to Rampart House Detachment (1922), Herschel Island Detachment (1923), Baillie Island Detachment (1924-26) and Edmonton (1927).

Photograph of Cst. Ernest Pasley at Dawson on a horse

At Herschel Island Detachment in August 1924, Ernest Pasley caught a ride on a Norwegian supply ship heading in the direction of his next posting – Baillie Island Detachment.    On-board, he met a young experienced Norwegian seaman by the name of Henry Larsen.  They would become friends and their paths would cross many times in the forthcoming years.

Photograph of RCMPCpl.  Ernest Pasley holding a pup

While at Baillie Island Detachment, Ernest was instrumental in saving the lives of 19 Eskimos.

Corporal E. Pasley, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the detachment at Baillie Island, in the course of a patrol eastwards in February 1926, found nineteen Kogmolik Eskimos living in a starving condition at the camp of a native named Assesowna, otherwise Lester, and supported by Assesowna and another Eskimo named Pitokana, otherwise David; five others were living with a man named Negasik, otherwise Bennet.  These people had found and killed plenty of caribou at Darnley bay, and had stayed there all summerThe weather was such as to prevent their drying the meat, and it turned bad, making the sick.  They remained at Darnley bay, thinking that they would recover, but instead they grew weaker; finally they decided to travel westwards in search of some native campe where they could get food.  One of their number, a man named Tiktarluk, was too weak to move, and they left him in a snow hut with lots of meat – presumably the putrid half-dried deer meat which had caused the trouble; they intended to return for my, but the people kept dying and getting weaker, six of them dying before they got over the divide to Bennet’s camp; these they left on the trail, as is their custom, just covering them over with snow.”

Based on his findings, Ernest Pasley stated “I asked Lester and David if they could keep these people until my return from the east and they said they could, so on my return I took two of them with me to Baillie island with their dog team and gave them supplies out of police stores to take the all, 25 people, back to Bernard Harbour, where they will be among their own people.” [7]

In early 1926, Ernest Pasley again met up with Henry Larsen.  It was at this meeting that Ernest outlined to Henry that the Force was going to build a schooner of its own.  With encouragement from Ernest Pasley, Henry Larsen applied for Canadian citizenship.

This new schooner was intended to provide a variety of services in the Western Arctic: serve as a flooding detachment; transporting supplies and members; and other duties as required.

At the time, the Force had no qualified seaman in their ranks to operate this new schooner.  In mid 1927, Ernest Pasley was selected to be the skipper for the new Force schooner.  As part of this appointment, he was transferred to Vancouver to supervision the construction of the “St. Roch” at the Burrard Dry Docks in North Vancouver, B.C.

In his free time to study, Ernest was required to study and be prepared to pass the Naval Master’s exam. On January 11, 1928, Ernest received this designation as a Naval Master.

On November 18, 1927 in Vancouver, B.C., Henry Larsen was sworn in by Judge Grant as a Canadian citizen and Ernest Pasley served as one of the two witnesses.  According to Henry Larsen “The best news I had during this stay was that the RCMP now had decided definitely to start building its ship the following winter.  Corporal Pasley had been given command of the ship and best of all, he wanted me on board.  This is just what I had been dreaming about, and we agreed that I would apply for the Force shortly after New Year’s.” [8]

Through late 1927 and early 1928, Ernest continued to promote the skills and abilities of Henry Larsen to Superintendent Arthur William Duffus in Vancouver.

On April 16, 1928, Henry Larsen was sworn into the Force by Superintendent Duffus at Vancouver.  Since the training of new RCMP recruits had already commenced, it was decided that Henry Larsen would receive his special basic training at the Fairmount Barracks in Vancouver, B.C.  With regards to the details of his RCMP basic training, Henry Larsen recalls Superintendent Duffus telling the Sergeant Major – “make sure that this man doesn’t get near a horse for awhile.  He’s too valuable to use to become hospitalized just now.” [9]

In addition Ernest Pasley, the remaining crew members were selected for this maiden voyage: Constables – Henry Larsen, Jack Foster, Fred Sealey, William Parry, Arthur Tudor, Joe Olsen and Terry Pasloe.

Henry Larsen outlined in his autobiography – “I was glad that we had not hired professional sailors, because I was sure that such men never would have worked out on a ship like this one.  I am sure that the cramped bunks, the Spartan food, and the ship as a whole would never have received the approval of real sailors.  Our policemen were quite different, they were used to taking orders, and above all, they were all imbued with an esprit de corps and were particularly proud of the fact that they had been picked for Arctic duty, which always carried some extra prestige in the RCMP.”[10]

Photograph of the RCMP St. Roch schooner

In late May 1928, the St. Roch was scheduled to take its maiden voyage from North Vancouver to Herschel Island.  If the St. Roch was deemed to have met the specifications, the ship would be turned over to the Force at Herschel Island and it was the plan that Corporal Pasley would assume command of the ship.

According to Henry Larsen “At the last moment, however, some important changes in the crew took place, owing to the expressed wishes of Corporal Pasley to take along his wife.  He pointed out that the old whaling skippers used to do the same, but that did not go over with the RCMP.  The result was that Corporal withdrew from service on St. Roch, and shortly after left the Force.” [11]

As outlined by Henry Larsen, the St. Roch departed Vancouver on June 28, 1928 and on route to Herschel Island.  Under the conditions of the contract to construct the St. Roch, the contractor would provide a Captain to navigate the vessel to Herschel Island and train the crew on how to operate the vessel.  Captain Gillen was selected for this maiden voyage.

On June 28, 1928, the St. Roch sailed out of Vancouver on route to Herschel Island.  A year later, Henry Larsen was promoted to Corporal.


On January 28, 1929, Ernest Pasley married Ada Lillian Burnstead.  At the time, they were living at 3385 Napier Street in Vancouver, B.C.

Photograph of Ernest Pasley as a civilian wearing a fur parka

On September 4, 1931, Ernest secured a position with the Can-Alaska Company and was posted to Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island in the Arctic.  His position was the outpost manager and Master of the schooner Nigalik.

With this position in the Arctic, he came in frequent contact with his old friend Corporal Henry Larsen and members of the RCMP St. Roch.

Photograph of the RCMP St. Roch and the Can-Alaska trading ship

In February 1932 at Cambridge Bay, Ada Pasley gave birth to their daughter June Victoria Pasley.  With the nearest doctor over 1,000 miles away and the nearest hospital being over 4,000 miles away, Ernest delivered his daughter and cared for both his wife and their young daughter.   June Pasley is credited as being the first white person to be born within the Canadian Arctic.

Despite the 6 months of darkness and isolation, June Pasley received the total devotion from both her parents.

The Christmas of 1937 was a special occasion for June Pasley and the Inuit people of Cambridge Bay.  It was to be the first day that Santa Claus would come to Cambridge Bay.  With flares announcing the arrive, a sled pulled into the cheers of everyone.  According to Henry Larsen, “the Eskimos had never seen or heard of Santa Claus, and the men decided that with my great, red beard, this would be a perfect part for me.  Mrs. Pasley made up an enormous red coat and cap for me, while Frank Williams supplied an addition to my beard in the form of some rope.” [12]

Photograph of Henry Larsen with June Pasley on his lap.  Taken in 1937 at Cambridge Bay Arctic

In 1938, Ernest Pasley retired from his position with the Can-Alaska Trading Company and moved his family from Cambridge Bay to Vancouver, B.C.  In the following year, he returned to England with his wife and daughter then returned to Vancouver.  On January 20, 1943, Ernest passed away from “Cerebral Thrombosis-Myocarditis Bronchopneumonia” in the Shaughnessy Military Hospital in Vancouver.  He was only 54 years of age.

Ernest was laid to rest in the military section of the Mountain View cemetery in Vancouver.  A photograph of his grave marker is pictured below.  Despite having served in the Force, there was no reference on his grave marker that he had served in the Force.

Beneath this simple grave marker, Ernest Pasley lays at rest.  A man who made his contributions to the Force and to our nation.

Photograph of Ernest Pasley's grave marker at the Mountainview Cemetery in Vancouver, BC.


It is interesting to note that on first navigation of the Northwest Passage (west to east), the St. Roch was forced by the ice to lay up for the winter in Pasley Bay on September 25, 1940.  Then on February 13, 1942 Constable Albert Chartrand suddenly died from a heart attack.  He was buried nearby under bounders and a large wooden cross.  It is believed that Pasley Bay was named after Ernest Pasley.  However at the time of the development of this tribute article, we were unable to confirm  this assumption.

Map of the Arctic and Pasley Bay is identified

The details of the Baker Lake and the little known relationship between Ernest Pasley and Henry Larsen would have gone untold if the details had not been brought to our attention by Linda Hillaby – granddaughter of Ernest Pasley.  In addition, Linda volunteered to assist in helping with the RCMP Veterans’ Association’s 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Vancouver, B.C.

As such, it was decided to present Linda Hillaby with a special gift from the RCMP Veterans’ Association – Vancouver Division – a framed image of the St. Roch which her grandfather was so closely associated.

Photograph of Director Arnie Atkin presenting Linda Hillaby with a framed picture of the RCMP St. Roch schooner which her grandfather was associated with.

Photo - Sheldon Boles author of article block


[1] “Report of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police 1914” – page 23.

[2] Morrison, William – “Showing The Flag: The Mounted Police And Canadian Sovereignty In The North 1894-1925” by William R. Morrison – University of British Columbia Press, 1985 – page 136.

[3] “Report of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police 1915” – page 265.

[4]  “Report of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police 1915 – page 274.

[5] Kelly, Norma – “The Men Of The Mounted” – page 182

[6] “Report of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police: For The Year Ended September 30, 1918” – page 4

[7] “Report of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for the Year Ended September 30, 1926,” F.A. Acland – page 76.

[8] Larsen, Henry A, “The Big Ship” McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1967 – page 35

[9] Larsen, Henry A, “The Big Ship” McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1967 – page 1

[10] Larsen, Henry – “The Big Ship,” McClelland and Stewart (1967) – page 37

[11] Larsen, Henry – “The Big Ship,” McClelland and Stewart (1967) – page 37

[12] Larsen, Henry A, “The Big Ship” McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1967 – page 106