Larry Burden – This Day In The RCMP

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

November 23rd

1898– On this day Constable #2833 Basil Ogilvy Nettleship deserted from the NWMP.

1955 – While working in Entwistle, Alberta #12487 George Tomlinson saw a Canadian National Railroad passenger train traveling westbound. As the train passed his point he saw that a wheel journal box was on fire. Tomlinson immediately recognized the inherent danger that the passengers were in and notified the next railway station in “Wildwood” and advised them to stop the train. When they got the train stopped the damage to the car was so extensive they had to remove it. For his quick thinking that resulted in saving many lives, the President of the CNR, Mr. D. Gordon, presented Tomlinson with a gold wristwatch that was engraved “For Meritorious Service”

1962– While participating in an air search for a lost hunter from 100 Mile House, BC, #18094 Constable Donald Harlock was nearly killed when the private aircraft he was in, stalled on takeoff and crashed. The pilot was killed and Constable Harlock remained unconscious for five days after receiving multiple fractures, lacerations and a serious concussion. After staying hospital for over a month, he eventually returned to duty and retired as a Corporal in 1980.

November 22nd

1915– #4054 Sergeant Robert Mundy was awarded $100 from the Fine Fund and promoted to Staff Sergeant for his meritorious service in the investigation and conviction of George Ball for the murder of William Long, in Whitemud, Saskatchewan.

1966– Honour Roll Number133.

#23018 Constable Gordon Donald Pearson age 23 was killed by Charles Wilfred Hill, when investigating a disturbance, at Winterburn, Alberta.

Shortly after 2:15 AM, Constable Pearson attended to complaint of three men fighting at the Holly Esso Café near Winterburn, Alberta. When he arrived, the primary suspect, Charles Wilfred Hill, had already left the scene. Pearson interviewed some of the patrons and two of the men involved in the fight and was about to leave when Hill walked into the café armed with a .303 rifle. Constable Pearson calmly turned to speak with the gunman, but before he could say anything or do anything Hill shot him twice, hitting him in the wrist and the stomach.

Hill then moved about the restaurant and shot and wounded one of the men who was involved in the dispute, and then shot another innocent bystander before leaving. A café customer, Shirley Parrish knew that Cst. Pearson’s stomach wound was the most serious of the three wounded men, and with the help of other patrons loaded Pearson into her car and she rushed him to the hospital in Edmonton. Sadly, he died a few hours later.

Hill was arrested the same morning and was later convicted of Pearson’s murder and sentenced to hang, but he appealed and received a second trial where he pleaded guilty to non-capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

Constable Pearson joined the RCMP on April 3, 1963 and was survived by Amy, his wife of only three months. He was buried with full honours at the cemetery at Neerlandia, Alberta.

1969– Six members received commendations for capturing an armed youth in a stolen truck at Biggar, Saskatchewan.

After the police seized some liquor from a local youth and took him home to his parents, the boy ran away in a fit of rage. He then stole his uncle’s pick-up truck and his .22 rifle.

In an attempt to capture the boy, constables #24893 Robert J.E. LeGrouix and #26522 Roy J.W. Karwaski (Also see May 4, 1980, Honour Roll #164) pursued the boy but he ran a roadblock and eventually became stuck when he attempted a U-turn.

After leaving the stolen truck the gunman walked towards Constable LeGerouix and refused to drop his rifle. As constables #25914 V. Bryan Scowby, and #26375 William H. Ellwood arrived on the scene the boy commandeered a passing vehicle and ordered the occupants out at gunpoint and sped off towards the town of Biggar. There he ran another roadblock manned by Sergeant #18302 Kasimer Klama, and Constable J.P. Brown.

As the vehicle ran through the roadblock Constable Brown fired several shots at the fugitives’ tires and then chased after him in his own personal vehicle reaching seeds of 90 miles per hour.

The pursuit continued on with Browns personal car and several police vehicles until the suspect was finally stopped when Constable Ellwood shot out his tires.  Sgt. Klama and Constable Ellwood then approached the driver and eventually convinced him to surrender after he repeatedly threatened to kill himself.

Sergeant Klama and Constable Ellwood were awarded Commissioners Commendations for Bravery along with cheques for $100 from the Fine Fund for their actions. The other policemen were awarded Commanding Officers Commendations.

1980– The Bronze Life Saving Medal was awarded by the Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem to #31134 Constable Terrance A. Cameron, who on this day was snowmobiling on, Island Lake, in Manitoba with Band Constable M. Beardy. When Constable Beardy’s snowmobile broke through the ice, Constable Cameron risked his life to pull his partner out of the water and back to safety. Before the Bronze Medal can be awarded it must first be approved by Her Majesty the Queen.

November 21st

1950– The worst military train accident in Canadian history.

#15596 Constable Abram Willims thought that his term as the relief constable for the one-man Blue River detachment was going to be uneventful. Unfortunately, the military troop train from Camp Shilo, Manitoba collided head on at Canoe River, BC south of Valemount, with the regularly scheduled Canadian National Railways eastbound transcontinental passenger train. The military train, carrying 23 officers and 315 men of the Second Regiment; Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (2 RCHA) was en-route to Fort Lewis Washington, where the men would be conducting winter warfare training before being deployed to the Korea War.

Constable Willims was the first member to arrive at the scene where he discovered that seventeen soldiers and four train crew personnel had been killed and many others had been injured.

Eventually the investigation concluded that the cause of the accident was a dispatching error by 22-year-old Alfred John “Jack” Atherton, the telegraph operator at Red Pass Junction. He was eventually charged with manslaughter and fired. Member of Parliament John Diefenbaker who went on to become Canada’s 13th Prime Minister defended the man at his own expense including the $1500 he had to pay so he could become a member of the Bar in the Province of British Columbia.

During the trial, the prosecutor, former WWI Colonel Eric Pepler, and British Columbia’s deputy attorney general erred when he stated “…in this case we are not concerned about the deaths of a few privates going to Korea.”Mr. Diefenbaker took advantage of the prosecutor’s unfortunate remark and with as much indignation as he could muster, cried, “You’re not concerned about the killing of few privates! Oh Colonel!”The jury comprised of at least one veteran, quickly acquitted the accused.

Ironically2 RCHA suffered more casualties in the train crash than it did during its first year of fighting in Korea. And to add insult to injury, none of the soldiers who were killed in this tragedy were posthumous awarded the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal because they never reached Korea!

Abram Willms served in the RCMP from 1948 to 1975 when he retired as a Sergeant.

1976– Medal of Bravery Recipient

On this day #28982 Constable Richard Allan Burns rescued a deranged man in Yarmouth Nova Scotia who had intentionally set fire to his apartment and locked himself inside. When Constable Burns and a local policeman arrived at the scene they found the man sitting in his living room with a container of flammable liquid by his side. As the Constables approached the house, the man began spreading gasoline throughout the house and then set it on fire. Cst. Burns ran to the back of the building where he broke down the door and at great risk to himself, pursued the distraught man through the fire and caught him after he broke through the bathroom door. He then dragged the man to the back door where others helped him pull the man from the burning building.

Richard Allan Burns, M.B. served in the RCMP from 1971 until he retired in 2003.

1977– Constable #33618 R.A. MacDonald attended to a complaint of assault at Balcarres, Saskatchewan. When he entered a house, a man wielding a knife confronted him. Shortly thereafter #22920 Robert Anderson arrived at the scene and the two officers successfully convinced the man to surrender. Both members received a Commanding Officers commendation for their calm handling of the situation.

1982– Civilian member Bradley James Bozek earned a Commanding Officers Commendation when he prevented the escape of armed and dangerous criminal who had overpowered and injured his guard. The escapee had several outstanding criminal charges pending including five counts of attempted murder and three armed robberies.

November 20th

1841– Happy Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day

Sir Henri Charles Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s seventh Prime Minister was born on this day in St. Lin, Quebec.He was the countries first francophone prime minister and is considered by many to be one of the country’s greatest statesmen. Throughout his career he sought to improve relations between the English and French-speaking Canadian. He was knighted in 1897. He died of a stroke on 17 February 1919, while he was still in office as Leader of the Opposition. His body rests in Ottawa’s Notre Dame Cemetery in a stone sarcophagus, adorned by sculptures of nine mourning female figures, each representing a province in the Canada.

1969– FLQ terrorists set off bomb at Montreal’s Loyola College.

1978– The St John Ambulance Meritorious Certificate was awarded to #31343 David E. Grundy for using cardio pulmonary resuscitation to save life of heart attack victim, in Yellowknife, NWT.

1995– Former Prime MinisterBrian Mulroney files a $50-million lawsuit against the federal Department of Justice and the RCMP. The lawsuit claims that his reputation was hurt by a letter sent to Swiss banking authorities by the police who were investigating allegations of him receiving a kickback in the sale of 34 Airbus jets to Air Canada in 1988.