Larry Burden: This Day In The RCMP

Photograph of the RCMP crest on "B" Block at "Depot" Division in Regina (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles)

 

 

 

The achievements and contributions of the Force have been built upon the individual contributions of many past Veterans. These contributions have largely been forgotten.

 

 

 

 

 

Veteran Sgt. Larry Burden ( #35982) served in “E” Division for 20 years has spent over ten years researching and summarizing these achievements by specific date. Nearly every day, Larry sends out an email message with a selection from his work in progress manuscript “This Day In The RCMP” to individuals interested in these historical notes.

In an effort to share his research to a large group, Larry has agreed to permit us to develop a webpage on our website. Each webpage will post Larry’s historical notations over the past week.

If you wish to contact Larry Burden or provide additional information about his research, please email him at larryburden8@gmail.com.

December 11

1911 – Alberta brings in first Motor Vehicle Act and sets the speed limit in towns and cities at 15 mph, and at 20 mph in less settled areas. The Act stipulates that vehicles outside of urban areas are required to slow down to 6 mph when approaching or passing pedestrians and horses. In addition drivers are required to assist any horseman who required assistance should the automobiles startle their horse. All male drivers over 16 and young ladies over 18 are required to obtain a drivers license.

1949 – The Canadian Government bans Comic Books!

1961 – The Assistant Military Attaché at Soviet Embassy expelled for receiving secret Canadian documents.

1968 – Honour Roll Number 138.

Photograph of Constable

Photograph of Constable James Alexander Kerr (Reg.#16042)

#26042 Second Class Constable James Alexander Kerr age 21 was killed when he was struck by a passing vehicle near Ste Anne, N.B.

Constable Kerr had only 16 months service when he assisted in the investigation of a fatal motor vehicle accident that had occurred early in the day. At 7:30 pm he was crossing the road in the dark with his back turned to traffic and he was struck and propelled over 235 feet. The driver of the car didn’t realize that the police were present because none of the vehicles were displaying their emergency lights except for one car that had a small red portable “fireball” light on its roof. The driver did not see Constable Kerr in part because the policeman’s clothing was dark and he was partially blinded by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.

He was buried near his parent’s home in Duart Ontario.

1990 – #28822 Corporal R.A. Nichol and #36785 Constable M.S. Lukca received Commanding Officer’s Commendations for the apprehension of an armed suspect at Hanes Junction, Yukon.

December 12

1899 – An Order in Council finally grants a life pension of 30¢ per day to #992 Sergeant William Perrin who had been invalided on June 30, 1890 with locomotor ataxia.

1955 – Honour Roll Number 90.

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at “Depot” Division in Regina Saskatchewan with the name of Inspector David James McCombe circled in red (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles)

#O.385 Inspector David James McCombe died from exposure while on patrol near Cutknife, Saskatchewan.

#10294 / O.385 Inspector David J. McCombe was the Officer Commanding North Battleford Sub-Division and had left his office to drive to 35 miles to Cutknife Detachment around noon. The weather was clear when he departed but en-route the wind picked up and one of the worst winter storms in history blew in. Before he could make it to his destination, Highway # 40 became impassable due to the blinding snow and heavy drifts. Only two and a half miles from Cutknife Inspector McCombe’s car slid into the ditch and became stuck. Abandoning his car he made an attempt to walk to shelter but the blinding snow prevented him from getting very far. Upon his return to his vehicle he discovered that he had lost his keys and had to smash a window to get into the vehicle where he curled up in the back seat in attempt to preserve his body heat in the sub-zero weather.

When the severe storm suddenly occurred the members of Cutknife detachment became concerned for the Inspectors safety and Corporal J.K Bird and Constable R.E. Sondergaard made separate attempts to find him on the highway but the driving conditions were so bad that they had to turn back. A third attempt to find him was made at 2:15 pm when Constables A.F. Squair, and C.C. Young went out in a tow truck driven by Mr. Duncan Crone. In their attempt they became stuck in a snowdrift and had to abandon their vehicle and walk to a nearby farmhouse. On the way they rescued a stranded family of four who became stuck in the ditch and the entire group had to spend three days at the farm waiting out the storm.

At 5:00 pm #13370 Corporal Eugene V. Matchett, accompanied by Constables #17675 Lester Wall, #18058 James A.J. Laking and #18255 Clarence P. Miskiw headed out in a Bombardier tank tracked vehicle borrowed from the Department of Natural Resources. Even then the driving was so bad that the constable’s had to take turns walking in front of the vehicle with a high-powered flashlight to illuminate the road. After four hours of searching they finally found the missing car and Inspector McCombe’s frozen body in the back seat of the car.

David J. McCombe had joined the RCMP in 1927 after a short spell with the Royal Irish Constabulary in his home city of Belfast. He received a huge funeral in North Battleford and was buried at the RCMP Cemetery in Regina. One of his sons H. Barry McCombe later joined the RCMP and rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant before retiring in 1994.

1970 – Roy Spencer, father of Toronto Maple Leaf rookie Brian ‘Spinner’ Spencer was shot and killed by the RCMP outside a Prince George, BC, TV station after he had forced it off the air at gunpoint because it was not carrying a game between the Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks and a interview with his son; Brian Spencer was himself shot and killed in June 1988 in Florida.

1991 – Justice Minister Kim Campbell brings in new rape shield law that defines consent, allows case questioning only when crucial to defendant; restores protection lost by ruling previous August.

December 13

1893 – #2739 Constable Francois Maisonneuve was brought up on charges in the Orderly Room (Service Court) accused of entering the Sergeants Mess and appropriating a leg of mutton for his own use. He was found guilty and sentenced by Superintendent Sam Steele to one month of hard labour. Some members have often wondered if he was sentenced for stealing the mutton or for going into the Sanctum Santorum of the Sergeants Mess!

1991 – Auxiliary Constable J. Schmidt of Mission BC rescued four teens from drowning after they fell through the ice on the Dewdney Slough. For his courage he was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation for bravery.

1991 – While serving as recruits in French language training in Montreal Quebec, Constables #43639 E.H. Hendriks and #43612 S.C. Hunter were commended for arresting a bank robber.

1997 – The bodies of the 52 year-old Fort MacLeod, Alberta Detachment Commander #24007 Sergeant Roger Sopow and his girlfriend Lorrain McNab age 47 are found murdered and dumped inside horse trailer near Pincher Creek, Alberta. The double homicide case has yet to be solved.

December 14

1890 – Honour Roll Number 17

Constable Reading NWMP

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at “Depot” Division in Regina. The name of Constable William Tyrrell R. Reading (Reg.#2086) is highlighted in red.  (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

#2086 Constable William Tyrrell R. Reading died from injuries he received when the horse he was riding fell on him.

After exercising the horse belonging to O.S.6/O.13 Superintendent John Henry McIllre, Officer Commanding Calgary. Constable Reading was riding it back to the stables when it began to act up. The more he attempted to rein the horse in the more it objected. The horse began to buck and kick and suddenly reared up on its haunches. It then lost its balance and fell backwards onto its rider crushing him with its full weight and rendering him unconscious. Constable Reading never woke and died from a concussion and several dislocated vertebrae.

He was buried at the cemetery in Calgary Alberta.

1968 – FLQ terrorists plant three bombs in Montreal; two are disarmed, one explodes.

1984 – A Commanding Officers Commendation was issued to #22581 Sergeant D.R. Homenuk NCO i/C of Cornerbrook Newfoundland FIS for his exceptional work on a homicide investigation.

2004 – Shortly before 3:00pm the “Toys R Us” store in Coquitlam BC was robbed. As the suspect fled the scene in his get-away car Mr. Darryl Reynolds and employee of the store followed in his own car and phoned in the suspect’s details. When the robber realized, he was being followed he abruptly stopped his car and fired a shot at Reynolds causing him to cease following. Witnessing the shooting, Mr. Kelly Thompson called the police on his cell phone and continued to follow the suspect in his car providing the direction of travel. Constable #50555 Brenton Brady was the first member to encounter the robber as he attempted to enter the Trans-Canada Highway Brady activated his emergency equipment in hope that he would stop. Instead the suspect then increased his speed and a criminal pursuit ensued involving Brady and a backup unit driven by Constable #47477 Eric Brown. Following several attempts to get the suspect to stop, authorization was given to Constable Brown to ram the suspect and forcibly end the pursuit. After the suspect vehicle was rammed the gunman fired a shot directly at Constable Brown hitting his windshield only inches above his head. Both policemen then took cover behind their vehicles and when the gunman reached for another gun the two officers shot him in the throat and shoulder. He was then taken into custody and transported to hospital where he recovered from his wounds. In recognition of their bravery and professionalism both policemen and the two civilians were awarded the Commissioners Commendations for bravery.

December 15

1901 – #3136 Constable Charles James Townshend Stewart is granted a Leave of Absence to join 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles for service in the Boer War. He later received a commission in the Imperial Yeomanry. He was killed in action on September 28, 1918, while serving as a Colonel with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry during WWI.

1952 – The RCMP in Kamloops British Columbia received a missing person’s report concerning Fred and Jean LaBrie and that a man had been selling their furniture and driving their truck.

#16381 / O.489 Constable Wallace ‘Wally’ Todd was assigned the investigation and interviewed a man calling himself Henry Godin. The Constable was advised that Godin and the LaBrie’s were business partners but they had gone to retrieve more of their personal effects from a storage locker in Kamloops.

While Constable Todd was investigating his story, Godin disappeared. The missing truck was eventually found after it had been sold and a search of the vehicle revealed an empty.32 cartridge casing.

On December 15, 1952 Godin kidnapped the manager of the Bank of Commerce in Williams Lake as he was closing the bank and forced him to drive him around for several minutes and then back to the bank. There he ordered him to open the bank and unlock the safe.

While this was happening, an off-duty employee of the bank along with a friend noticed the open door to the bank and went inside to enquire. Godin was spooked by the fact that he was outnumbered and fired a shot and fled from the building and ran down the street.

Immediately the police were called and Constables#15226 William Pooler, #15627 Ron Winn and #17299 Jack Groves rushed to the scene and began tracking Godin’s tracks in the snow. The following morning, they had him cornered, the suspect fired at them and in the ensuing shootout Godin was shot in the chest.

While he was being treated in hospital, Godin’s fingerprints were forwarded to Ottawa and he was identified as 27-year-old Henry Seguin who was wanted for the murder of taxi driver Leonard Hurd in Maxville, Ontario.

Seguin was convicted for the bank robbery in British Columbia and then tried for murder in Ontario and was sentence to hang. Although he was the prime suspect in the disappearance of the LaBrie’s he refused to discuss the matter with police.

Moments before he was to be hanged on January 19th 1954 Seguin cheated the hangman by poisoning himself with potassium cyanide that he had smuggled into the prison.

On September 18th 1956 two human skeletons and a dog were found by a hunter in ravine by Long Lake Road 10 miles south of Kamloops. The remains were examined by Forensic Identification member #16445 Constable Dennis Jobling using superimposed photographs of the skulls and comparing them to photos of the victims he proved the skeletons were the LaBrie’s.

1974 – Constables, #28408 Barry J. Mellish and #29497 Howard W. Geldart and civilian received commendation saving 3-year-old child and the attempted rescue of mother from van which had plunged into Folly Lake near Truro, N.S.

1983 – Honour Roll Numbers 171 and 172.

Photograph of Constable

Photograph of Corporal Francis Eugene Jones (Reg.#25289)

Pilot #S/2706 Special Constable Wayne Graham Myers age 42 and #25289 Corporal Francis “Frank” Eugene Jones age 36 were killed in RCMP helicopter crash near Ucluelet BC.

On Thursday December 14th, the weather was perfect for flying so Ucluelet Detachment Commander, Corporal Frank Jones arranged for the RCMP helicopter based out of Courtenay to pick him up in Ucluelet. Cpl. Jones wanted search for some stolen logging equipment along the west coast of Vancouver Island.

As the pilot was entering an abandoned logging camp at the mouth of Cat Ears Creek, his vision was hampered by sunlight and he couldn’t see an abandoned suspension cable that was strung across the valley. The Bell Jet Ranger “MP-DXB” flew directly into the cable and when the main rotor blades hit it the helicopter crashed killing both men instantly.

When they did not return as scheduled an immediate search was begun involving Search and Rescue Aircraft, Coast Guard personnel and the RCMP Patrol Vessel “Manyberries” crewed by #29753 Corporal Frank F. LaLear and Constables #32634 Robert J Mollett, #34502 Kim A. Bloy and #35982 Larry Burden.

By daybreak the search was intensified and at 11:15 am the wreckage was discovered. The investigation later determined that no notice to airman had been published and the owners of the suspension cable hadn’t bothered to hang warning markers.

Corporal Frank Jones had joined the RCMP in 1966 and was a popular member who had served in several communities in British Columbia over his 17-year career.

Wayne Myers had a varied flying career and had only joined the RCMP in 1982.

Photograph of RCMP Commissioner Beverly Busson (Source of photo – orderofbc.gov.bc.ca)

Photograph of RCMP Commissioner Beverly Busson (Source of photo – orderofbc.gov.bc.ca)

2006 – #31796 / O.1643 Beverly Ann Busson COM, (nee MacDonald) was appointed as the interim commissioner. Commissioner Busson has many firsts in her 32-year career. She was a member for the first female troop in 1974; she was the first woman promoted to the rank of inspector in 1992 and was the first woman to command a Division.

Though she was considered for the role of permanent commissioner she chose not to accept the post and served as interim commissioner until July 16, 2007 when she retired and was replaced by Mr. William Elliot COM, the first civilian to hold the post.

December 16

Photograph of

Photograph of Sergeant John Lindsay Wilson (Reg.#6020)

1919 – The first member of the Mounted Police to be Hanged for Murder!

On this day former Sergeant #6020 John Lindsay Wilson was charged with the murder of a wife nobody knew he had. In 1912 Wilson left his home and family in Scotland to come to Canada to seek a new life after he had been caught embezzling money from the business he co-owned with his in-laws. He had promised his wife Molly (“Polly”) Hutchison and their two children that he would send for them once he was established in Saskatchewan, he never did. After drifting through a variety of jobs he enlisted in the Royal Northwest Mounted Police on January 8th 1914 and was posted to F Division (Saskatchewan).

Eventually Wilson stopped writing his wife and family and in 1917 contracted tuberculoses and was sent to the military corps hospital for treatment. There he met and fell in love with Miss Jessie Patterson. For the first time in a long time, life was going along rather pleasantly for him. He had recovered from his illness, been promoted and was making a new life with Jessie, things were pretty good until Polly decided to come to Canada and find her husband.

When she arrived unexpectedly from Scotland and phoned him he didn’t have the courage to tell her the truth so he began living a double life for nearly six months keeping his women separated in different communities and embezzling fine money from the Mounted Police to cover his expenses. When his wife Polly became pregnant he decided that it was time to end their relationship.

On September 27, 1918 Wilson took Polly for a drive in the country and then shot her in the head with his service revolver and buried her body under a culvert near Waldheim Sask. As he drove his car back onto the road he crashed into the ditch, so he burned the vehicle to destroy the bloodstains and any other evidence of the murder. Later the same day he obtained a marriage license and he and Jessie Paterson were married the next day. In an attempt to create the perception that Polly was still alive, Wilson continued to write letters to his in-laws in Scotland. Eventually her family became suspicious and asked the RNWMP to investigate.

Meanwhile the Force became suspicious of Wilson’s activities and investigated him for fraud and on November 7, 1919 he was charged and demoted. While serving his sentence in the Regina Guardroom he attempted suicide and was rescued by the Provost Constable #5833 Constable Ernest Pascoe. After serving his term he was dishonorably discharged from the Force.

By then the Force had assigned #4754/ O.0190 Sub-Inspector Charles John Prime to investigate the Hutchison family concerns and when Polly’s body was discovered Wilson eventually confessed to his crimes. He was convicted and hanged on April 20, 1923. He was buried in the South Hill cemetery in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

In 1994 the story of Wilson’s exploits were recorded by author Lois Simmie in her book “The Secret Lives of Sgt. John Wilson”.

1976 – Dorval Police Dog handler Constable D.R.J. Jean and his partner “Smokey” were asked by the Canadian Bomb Data Center to assist the National Public Archives Photography section in locating photographic negatives containing a dangerous substance. The problem was the Public Archives collection consisted of over 5,000,000 items in over 10,000 boxes and the negatives containing nitrocellulose base emitted a highly explosive gas when they deteriorated. After providing a sample for the bomb dog to sniff Constable Jean and Smokey conducted a seven-hour search and identified every box containing the potentially dangerous negatives.

1981 – Honour Roll Number 169.

Photograph of Constable Barry McKinnon (Reg.#

Photograph of Constable Barry McKinnon (Reg.#31787)

#31787 Constable Barry Flynn McKinnon age 27 was killed in a police motor vehicle accident, near Hamilton, Ontario.

Constables Barry McKinnon and #33242 James Stavert of the Toronto Drug section had been conducting surveillance in a rental car in Brantford Ontario and McKinnon had just dropped his partner off at his home in the Village of Burtch, and was headed home at the end of his shift. As he drove north on Highway #54 he encountered a flat bed tractor-trailer that had run out of gas at the bottom of a blind hill near Cainsville. Constable McKinnon was unable to stop his vehicle in time to avoid colliding with the truck and trailer because another oncoming car was passing the truck in the southbound lane. Unable to steer to the ditch because the shoulder of the road was lined with a crash guard made of three-foot posts and steel cables, he slammed into the back to the flat deck trailer and was propelled through the windshield of his car to his death.

Barry McKinnon was raised in Moncton, New Brunswick and was one of four children from the same family to join the RCMP. He joined the Force in 1974 and was married but had no children. He was buried at Wallace, Nova Scotia.

1982 – North Vancouver member #33603 Constable Dave Senay responded to a report of a distraught man at a bus terminal armed with a hand grenade. During the 45-minute conversation Senay listened to the man’s extensive knowledge of military weapons and tactics. He eventually succeeded in convincing the man to surrender and when he was searched he was found to be unarmed. For his patience and tack in dealing with a potentially dangerous situation Constable Senay was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation, by the Deputy Commissioner T.S. Venner, CO of British Columbia.

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