Larry Burden: This Day In The RCMP

Photograph of the Northwest Mounted Police badge (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

December 18

1961 – Honour Roll # 115


Photograph of the grave marker for Constable Joseph Thor Thompson (Reg.#18200) (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).

#18200 Constable Joseph Thor Thompson age 27, died at Selkirk, Manitoba as result of injuries he received when his police car was crushed by the wheels of an aircraft landing near at Lethbridge Alberta. See September 26, 1957.

1979 – After responding to a motor vehicle collision near Milestone Saskatchewan #33551 Constable Michael J. Boyce rescued two men from burning car that had collided with a tractor-trailer. As he was attempting the rescue the gas tank exploded forcing him to back away from the car. He then rushed back to the vehicle and succeeded in the rescue of the occupants. On My 5th 1981 Assistant Commissioner R.J. Mills, CO of “F” Division presented him with the Commanding Officers Commendation for Bravery.

1992 – Assistant Commissioner W.L. Holmes was the recipient of a very special honour when Native Elder H. Healy of the Blackfoot Nation bestowed Holmes with a ceremonial eagle feather headdress and gave him the native name of “Chief of all Chiefs” in recognition of his commitment and contribution to Aboriginal Community relations.

Photograph of RCMP Supt. Dennis Massey (Source of photo - RCMP Gravesite Database).

Photograph of RCMP Supt. Dennis Massey (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite Database).

2002 – 53-year-old #27513 / O.1540 Superintendent Dennis Massey was driving from a Calgary City police station to the RCMP office at Springbank Alberta. While he was traveling west on 16th Avenue, Northwest he encountered an eastbound truck and flat deck trailer loaded with a large propane tank. As the truck approached the propane tank broke free from the trailer and careened across the center line and crushed Massey’s police car. Superintendent Massey had to be cut from the wreckage and succumbed to his injuries in hospital later.

Superintendent Dennis Massey had 33 year’s service with the force and was survived by his wife, mother, a brother and a sister. He is not on the Honour Roll.

December 19

1964 – Honour Roll # 128

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at Depot Division in Regina. The name of

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at Depot Division in Regina. The name of Constable Reginald Wayne Williams (Reg.#23499) circled in red. (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

#23499 Constable 3rd class Reginald Wayne Williams drowned, while on patrol, when his police car skidded off of a wharf and plunged into the water. While on routine patrol on the icy streets of Sooke British Columbia Cst. Williams drove onto Government dock and skidded off the end, dropping 18 feet into the frigid water. Although his vehicle was pulled out from 12 feet of water within 15 minutes he had died from drowning. 21-year-old Cst. Williams had joined the RCMP only eight months earlier. He was buried in his hometown of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba at the Hillside Cemetery.

1968 – Four teenagers were cruising the icy roads of rural Prince Edward Island when their car left the highway and overturned in five feet of water in Fullerton’s Marsh. Constables #22436 D.R. MacLeod and #24551 D.D. MacDonald responded to the scene and rushed into the water, managing to remove three of the occupants to safety. The driver, Clifford Smith, couldn’t be removed because his legs were trapped and he was suffering from shock. So the two policemen took turns entering the car and holding the victim’s head up in an air space. After an hour in the icy water the vehicle was raised using a crane and the driver was removed. Constable MacLeod had to be treated in hospital for hypothermia. Both constables were awarded Life Saving Certificates by the Honorable J. George MacKay, the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island.

December 20

1878 – #18 & 23 Sergeant Edward Carr had to get his rifle and shoot two bears that forced their way into the barracks square at Fort Saskatchewan. Carr had two different regimental numbers because he was issued number “18” when he joined the NWMP in 1873 and was issued the new number “23” when the Force organized its records and renumbering took place in 1878.

1933 – #11201 Constable Thomas Paul received commendation for difficult patrol with two dog teams from Fort Chippewyan to Embarrass Portage, Alberta.

1946 - Photograph of three German Prisoners of War being escorted by two unknown RCMP members/

1946 – Photograph of three German Prisoners of War being escorted by two unknown RCMP members/

1946 – Four German prisoners of war were hanged at the Lethbridge Provincial Jail for the murder of fellow prisoner Cpl. Karl Lehmann at the Medicine Hat POW camp in Sept. 1944. Note: If you would like to read the in-depth article on this case, send me an email, and I will forward it to you. Larry

2003 – Constable #38731 Cameron Jan Joseph responded to a complaint of a home invasion in Terrace BC where an elderly man was assaulted. While en-route he received a radio description of the suspects involved and then observed a man fitting the description attempting to hide behind a dumpster. As Constable Joseph exited his police car to investigate, the man suddenly rushed him and attacked him with a 6-inch hunting knife slashing him below the chin. Bleeding profusely Constable Joseph fought back and knocking his attacker off balance with the car door he attempted to restrain and disarm him. When constables Barnhill and Lofroth arrived on scene they found Joseph struggling valiantly with his enraged attacker. The man was then quickly subdued and the two policemen applied much needed first aid to their partner and rushed him to the hospital. There he received over 20 stitches to close the 13-cm gash that nearly cut his jugular vein.

On July 15, 2004 in recognition of his bravery and tenacity in the arrest of the extremely violent subject Constable Cameron Jan Joseph was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for bravery.

December 21

1910 – #2218/ O.156 Inspector Francis J. Fitzgerald, and constables #2127 Sam Carter, #4582 George F. Kinney and #4346 Richard O. Taylor leave Fort McPherson on the infamous “Lost Patrol” in which all four men perish.

See February 14, 1911

1984 – Corporal #24818 Larry P. Bauer and Constable #33630 Byron F. Hodgkin were awarded the St John Meritorious Certificates for using CPR to save the life of a prisoner who tried to hang himself in Kamloops Detachment cells.

2001 – Honour Roll Number 197.

Photograph of

Photograph of Constable Dennis Douglas Strongquill (Reg. #40120).

52-year-old #40120 Constable Dennis Douglas Strongquill was murdered in Russell Manitoba, by three-armed robbery suspects.

It was a cold quite night in the Russell Manitoba area where Constables Dennis Strongquill and #40759 Brian Auger were patrolling. Both constables were from the newly formed all native detachment at Waywayseecappo Reserve located 210 miles northwest of the City of Winnipeg and twenty miles from the town of Russell.

Like most cold clear winter nights on the prairies there wasn’t much happening and the constables decided to headed out onto the highway to look for highway offences but found very little traffic. Around 12:30 am the pair observed a pickup truck with three occupants turn onto Highway 45 without stopping at the stop sign and failed to dim their headlights as they sped past the police car.

As constable Auger turned his vehicle around neither constable knew that the occupants of the truck were armed and dangerous criminals from Edmonton Alberta, and that two of them were wanted on a nationwide warrant. The trio had been on a ten-day crime spree of break and enters of vacant homes, they had stolen several vehicles that they had changed over to avoid detection and had committed a bank robbery in Thorhild Alberta. In the multiple break and enters they had acquired numerous guns along with a large quantity of ammunition and they had no intention of being arrested on their route to Nova Scotia.

After a mile of pursuing the Chevrolet Silverado, it suddenly pulled over to the side of the road and while Cst. Stronquill was exiting the police car, one of the fugitives, Robert Sand got out of the passenger side of truck and started towards the police car armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and fired four rounds of pellets at the front of the car.

Dennis Strongquill jumped back into the car and Brian Auger slammed the car into reverse and raced backwards and spun the car around and drove off in the opposite direction. As they sped away they radioed the communication center in Winnipeg and advised them what had happened and that they were making their way to the RCMP Detachment in Russell.

In normal circumstances the shooters would have sped away and would try and put as much distance from the police as they could. But these were not normal criminals. Instead they turned their vehicle and pursued the police car and when they got closer they continued to shoot at them and succeeded in shooting out the back window of the police car. When Cst. Strongquill attempted to shoot back with his 9mm pistol the magazine fell out of the bottom of the handgun.

The RCMP had recently upgraded their weapons from a 38-cal. revolver to a 9mm pistol. Unfortunately, the weapon that was chosen only came in a right-handed model. Dennis Stronquills death may have been averted if he, a left-handed shooter been provided with a more appropriate handgun. The reason the magazine fell out of the gun is because the magazine release was activated when it was pulled out of his left-handed holster. Since then, all left-handed members of the Force have had their pistols modified to move the magazine release to the opposite side.

As the pursuit raced along at speed of 140 kilometers per hour (87 MPH) Cst. Stronquill attempted to recover his magazine from the floor and when they reached the town of Russell and the Detachment, Cst. Auger couldn’t make the turn in to the entrance of the detachment because his car slid sideways on the snow and ice covered road. He then attempted to drive the car through the snow-covered ditch and onto the parking lot, but they were hampered by tress on the lawn and came to a stop. Then Danny Sand the driver of the Silverado, rammed the police car from behind and then continued to slam the passenger side of the car until it came to a full stop, trapping Cst. Stronquill inside the car.

While they were being slammed Cst. Auger managed to get the driver’s door open and subsequently was thrown from the vehicle. Dennis Strongquill struggled to climb over the patrol computer to crawl out the open driver’s door but he never made it.

As soon as the suspect vehicle came to a stop, Robert Sand rushed around the Silverado while the third criminal, 20-year-old Laurie Bell, girlfriend of Danny Sand, yelled repeatedly, “Kill him, Kill him”. Robert Sand then fired four rounds from his sawed off shot gun through the passenger side window into Cst. Strongquill killing him. While Roberts Sand was blasting away at his victim, Cst. Auger fired 13 rounds into the cab of the Silverado striking the driver twice in the neck. Robert jumped back into the passenger seat and the trio sped away.

Immediately the police in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan went into high alert and roadblocks were setup around the area and general broadcasts were sent out to the public over radio and television. After breaking into another farm house the trio stole another truck and proceeded on to Wolseley Saskatchewan, 60-miles east of Regina and obtained a hotel room. The hotel clerk having seen the news broadcast got suspicious and called the RCMP.

Within minutes, Mounties from several area detachments surrounded the scene and began evacuating homes and business near the hotel. Not long after the thirteen-member Emergency Response Team (ERT) from Regina headed by #37494 Sergeant Robert Bazin were on the scene. Around 1:00 Robert Sand looked out the window and saw several police cars and then kicked out the back window of their room and the trio climbed out. Robert ordered his still bleeding brother to climb up on the roof so he could have a better look at their situation. When Sand was observed aiming his rifle and ERT members a volley of shots was fired at him and the order was given the snipers to shoot. Sniper #36465 Constable Al M. Lukasewich had Danny Sand in his sites and shot him in the head killing him instantly. Shortly afterward Laurie Bell and Robert Sand dropped their weapons and surrendered.

Dennis Douglas Strongquill had twenty years’ service in the RCMP. He left behind six children. After a 48-hour vigil held by the native community, he was buried in Powerview Saskatchewan with over 350 police officers in attendance.

Robert Sand was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Laurie Bell received a ten-year sentence for manslaughter.

In 2002 the town of Barrows, Manitoba dedicated the Dennis Strongquill Memorial Park in his memory and in 2016 the Province of Manitoba name a lake 45 kilometers north of Flin Flon, Stronquill after Dennis.

December 22

Photograph of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

1967– “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” Federal Justice minister and future Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau introduced a controversial Omnibus bill in the House of Commons. The bill calls for massive changes to the Criminal Code of Canada. In a media scrum Trudeau makes his famous statement and follows it up with “what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.” In addition to decriminalizing or legalizing issues such as abortion, homosexuality and divorce law. The bill also calls for the legalization of lotteries, new gun ownership restrictions and the right for the police to perform Breathalyzer tests on suspected drunk drivers.

1973 – Author Pierre Berton is quoted in Canadian Magazine as saying; ‘A Canadian is somebody who knows how to make love in a canoe.’ Many Canadians thought that his Father Frank was a member of the Mounted Police. He was not but he was a very interesting man in his own right.

2003 – Commendation to #47571 Constable Brent Elwood who stood in creek for one hour assisting an elderly man who and fallen in to the water while hiking along Lynn Creek, North Vancouver. The man was suffering hypothermia and was at risk of being swept away. His actions ensured the man’s safety until the Fire Department Rescue Team could remove him.

December 23

Photograph of (left to right) Veteran Dan Lemieux, Lt. Governor Iona Campagnolo and Veteran Jack Duggan (Source of photo - Dan Lemieux).

Photograph of (left to right) Veteran Dan Lemieux, Lt. Governor Iona Campagnolo and Veteran Jack Duggan (Source of photo – Dan Lemieux).

1971 – Retired Staff Sergeant #14049 John William “Jack” Duggan happened to be in the Hornby Street Branch of the Royal Bank in Vancouver when he saw two armed men enter the building. After the robbers, had grabbed their loot and were preparing to make their exit, the men looked back at the bank manager who had produced a revolver. Duggan then used the diversion to rush the pair and tackled one man who was armed with a handgun and after sending him flying across the room grabbed the rifle from the second gunman and aimed it at the first who dropped his revolver and surrendered. As Duggan rushed into the fray he heard a pop and later learned that the manager had fired his gun at them but fortunately missed. After apprehending the robbers, he ordered them into the managers’ office and held them at gunpoint until the City Police arrived. For his actions in apprehending the robbers Jack Duggan was awarded a Certificate of Merit from the Vancouver Board of Police Commissioners. Duggan had a varied career during his 29 years with the RCMP serving in several locals and assignments. During his service with the Force he even played football with the Ottawa Roughriders of the Canadian Football League in the 1940’s.

1971 – The Royal Canadian Humane Association Bronze Medal is awarded to #21343 William Nichol for the rescue of a seven-month-old child from burning motel unit, in Perth, N.B.

1989 – While working at the small community of Wrigley, Northwest Territory a satellite of Fort Simpson Detachment, #34924 Constable James E.R. Cook was confronted by an intoxicated man who threatened to kill him with an axe. Constable Cook succeeded in overpowering the man and arrested him. The man was subsequently charged with attempted murder along with several other criminal offences. For his bravery and professionalism Constable Cook was awarded the RCMP’s highest award, the Commissioners Commendation.

December 24

1875 - Illustration of Fort MacLeod - North West Mounted Police

1875 – Illustration of Fort MacLeod – North West Mounted Police

1874 – On this day #56 (Original Series) later #41 (New Series) Staff Constable John Alfred Martin) a member of the “March west” was one of the men moved into the newly constructed Fort MacLeod. He and the other men built the fort out of cottonwood logs on a small island in Old Man’s River. The thing about Martin was that he hid a secret from the Force and his son. Married men could not join the Force (unless they were officers) so he signed up using his mother’s maiden name and denied being married. His real name was John Alfred MacIntosh and his own son didn’t know the truth. The boy went his grave thinking that his father was his uncle! Martin/ MacIntosh served in the NWMP from 1873 to 1898.

1963 – After receiving a report that an Eskimo at Alfred Point on Baffin Island, NWT had been accidentally shot in the leg, Corporal Robert S. Pilot prepared himself for the 60-mile trip by dog sled. Then the weather closed in and he had to spend two impatient days waiting out the storm. Finally the weather cleared and Pilot made the twelve-hour trip to investigate and provide first aid to the wounded man. He found his patient in a weakened state suffering in great pain from the bullet wound to his left buttock. Corporal Pilot then opened, cleansed, and drained a cupful of puss from the wound. After applying clean dressings and administering antibiotics he continued to care for his patient, watching over him and changing the dressings twice a day. Fearing that gangrene would set in, he sent a messenger by dog sled to Pond Inlet to relay a message by radio to Frobisher Bay requesting an airlift for his patient.

While they waited for an aircraft, Corporal Pilot organized several men from the camp to construct a landing strip on the pack ice. They marked out the runway with homemade flares made from gasoline soaked rags in tin cans and lit them in the dark so the plane could land safely. When the aircraft arrived on December 30th they loaded him and his patient and then flew to the hospital.

A month later Corporal Pilot was called on again to assist a pregnant Eskimo woman who hemorrhaging. After traveling eight miles on a borrowed snowmobile he discovered that the patient who was six months pregnant had lost nearly forty ounces of blood and he could not stop the bleeding. Following instructions from a US Air Force doctor in Thule Greenland over a short wave radio, Corporal Pilot helped deliver a dead premature deformed fetus and then care for his patient until she could be airlifted to the hospital. Alfred Pilot never received any formal recognition for saving either life; it was just a routine part of the job.

1974 – At 6:30 am Alan Thurbon phoned the detachment in Fort Nelson BC, and stated that he had just shot a man at his motel room. #18432 Sergeant Vincent J. Hollingsworth and Constable #29733 R. Alan C. Jones rushed to the scene and when they knocked on the door of Room 11 they heard three shots fired from room 12 at an unoccupied vehicle in the parking lot. Sergeant Hollingsworth then provided cover for Constable Jones as he rushed to move their police car out of the line of fire and radio for backup. When Hollingsworth entered room 11, he found one man dead and two women, one of whom had a bullet wound to her leg. Then Constable Jones and #26327 Joseph Schalk rushed into the room with a stretcher and carried the wounded woman out to safety and returned for the uninjured wife of the assailant. After the women had been removed the members at the scene they fired a tear gas grenade into the gunman’s room and shortly thereafter he surrendered. A search of the room resulted in the seizure of a 7mm Husqvarna rifle and 18 empty shell casings. Alan Thurbon was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Sergeant Hollingsworth and Constable Jones were awarded the Commissioners Commendations for courage and presence of mind and Constable Schalk received a Commanding Officers Commendation for bravery.

1977 – Constable D.L. West earned a Commanding Officers Commendation for bravery for his arrest of a gunman who went on a shooting spree in the community of Moose Lake Manitoba.

Photograph of

Photograph of Sergeant George Cutting as a member of the RCMP Provost Corp during World War II (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).


1998 – On this day retired World War II Provost Corps veterans #10980 Sergeant George Cutting (served 1931 to 1958), #12888 Staff Sergeant Jack Phillips (served 1937 to 1963) and #13901 Sergeant “Pick” Ivan Pickerill (served 1938 to 1967) along with 25 other Canadian war veterans who served at the Battle of Ortona, Italy sat down for a reconciliation Christmas dinner with German war veterans.

55 years earlier the Canadians ate their Christmas dinner in shifts in the bombed out Santa Maria di Constantinopoli church on Christmas Eve 1943. The battle of Ortona was one of the hardest fought and bloodiest battles of the war to liberate Europe.

December 25

1874 – #247 Sub Constables Frank Baxter and #228 Thomas D. Wilson were granted leave for Christmas and were traveling by horseback back to Fort MacLeod from Fort Kipp. Both men had celebrated the season in style and had consumed their share of beverages were on their way back to their post when they were caught in a sudden blizzard and the temperature dropped. The severely frost bitten men struggled on and in hopes of finding shelter but did not make it. A search party found them and transported them to the hospital at Fort MacLeod but they died on New Years day and were buried at Fort MacLeod.

1906 – RNWMP members stationed at Fort Battleford – Saskatchewan (Source of photo – RCMP Veterans’ Association – Vancouver Division Photo Collection).

1906 – #4205 Constable Charles Hayter was charged in Orderly Room because shot the barrack room clock at Battleford Detachment. He was fined $10 and ordered to pay for new clock. When asked for explanation of his actions, is alleged to have said “just killing time, Sir.”

Hayter served from 1904 to 1912 retiring as a Sergeant.

1934 – #10711 Constable Alexander Unia lost all his effects in detachment fire at Forty Mile, Yukon.

1935 – #12745 Constable Paul Dessureau won the 30th Annual Calgary Road Race completing of 6.147 mile run in a time of 35 minutes, 57 seconds.

1997 – #42007 Constable Gerald Fortis of the Sumas Highway Patrol was on duty in Chilliwack, BC and had arranged to travel home to begin his break so he could watch his three young children open their presents. En-route in his patrol car, he encountered a patch of black ice and skidded off the highway and smashed into a cement barrier. His seat belt and the airbag were not enough to protect him because of the angle of the impact. He died from multiple injuries. His Funeral in Chilliwack was one of the largest the town had ever seen.

He survived by his wife and 3 children. Sadly he is not on the Honour Roll!