UPDATED – Help Identify: RCMP Chapel Member

Photograph of trumpeter stained glass at the RCMP Depot Chapel in Regina (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles)




Veteran Ric Hall forwarded to us the following photograph which he discovered in the Alberta Archives.  Noted photograph was taken in the RCMP Chapel at “Depot” Division in 1960.




There is no indication of the names of the member or chaplain.

1960 - Photograph of RCMP Corporal and Chaplain in the Chapel at "Depot" Division in Regina (Source of photo - Alberta Archives).

1960 – Photograph of RCMP Corporal and Chaplain in the Chapel at “Depot” Division in Regina (Source of photo – Alberta Archives).

The following is a magnified image of these two individuals.

1960 - magnification of RCMP member and chaplain image (Alberta Archives).

1960 – magnification of RCMP member and chaplain image (Alberta Archives).


Ric discovered the following details:

A once-lost photograph by master photographer Yousuf Karsh of Anglican chaplain William Cole blessing an officer in the RCMP chapel in Regina, will soon hang in a prominent place in the RCMP training academy. The photograph was found covered in layers of dust in old storage space in the officers’ mess, says a report in the Saskatchewan Anglican. It was found by Inspector Dale Sheehan, who said he “knew there was something special about this – it was majestic.” The inspector immediately called the Anglican chaplain, Rev. Allan Higgs, to come and see it. A retired RCMP staff sergeant, Ken Barker, recognized the photo as Mr. Karsh’s work. For years Mr. Barker had researched the history of the RCMP chapel, the oldest building in Regina. He said he had been looking for the photograph for six years. Mr. Barker said he started to look for the photo after he found reports of Mr. Karsh’s visits in an old chaplain’s record and later found an article about a visit Mr. Karsh made to the RCMP building. Maclean’s magazine had commissioned Mr. Karsh to do 18 photo essays from December 1952 to January 1954. The find at the depot was one of four photos that appeared in a February 1953 article, Portrait from the Plains. –

From the Anglican Journal, Nov 1950. Fraser MacRae also confirmed remembering Chaplain Cole from his early days at Depot. Name of member still unknown.

Retired Honorary Force Chaplain Allan Higgs provided the following details about this photograph:

After considerable persistence on my part the at long last picture now hangs in the Officers’ Mess on the north wall of the dinning room. Accompanying the picture is a brief account of the history of the painting. It is my personal conviction the painting denotes the spirituality of the Force.

Karsh had been commissioned by Macleans magazine to record unique aspects of Canadian life. When it came to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police he had all the usual options to choose from: Drill; Horses; Dog; Planes; Members in a variety of poses etc. What his picture provides is him capturing the Spirituality of the Force. The photograph (in reality a composite) is created in the Spiritual Home of the Force, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chapel, Regina. The member kneeling on the Prayer Desk is likely an instructor at Depot (given it is a Corporal). He is receiving a blessing from the Force Chaplain. Light is beaming in through a side window. In the background the stained glass windows depicting Mourning (Death) and Reville (RCMP version at that) (the Resurrection) (the windows were placed to honours 13 members of the Force who had died in the line of duty). The photograph is a piece of art which has much to tell those who take the time to study it.

As I best understand it a young man had gone cannoeing in the North West Territories and had gone missing. Members of the Force searched for him and in due course discovered his body in a remote area. His father, a prominent lawyer in Ottawa, was so appreciative of the work the Force had done he insisted on presenting a gift. That gift is the original photograph signed by Yousef Karch now hanging in the Officers’ Mess.

I confess the photograph has had such meaning to me I have dragged many Officers’ over to see and hear the story Karch portrays. It is unique and every commissioned officer should know the depth and meaning it conveys.

Since the picture was ‘resurrected’ I have made a point of policing its presence. Sadly one Commananding Officer ordered it be taken down during the visit of certain dignitaries.  He was worried someone might be offended. When I found out, after the visit, I persisted until it was returned to its’ proper place.

If you have any addition information about this photograph, please email Ric Hall at rshall69@shaw.ca.

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage