Larry Burden’s 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 21

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.

Ironically 2 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 22

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 Number 133

Photograph of

Photograph of Constable Gordon Donald Pearson (Reg.#23018).

#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 23

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.

1983 – A Commissioners Commendation for Outstanding Service was presented to Special Constable E. Destefano for her undercover work in which she penetrated a Hong Kong based international heroine smuggling organization while working in South East Asia and Europe.

November 24

1885 – The NWMP wasted no time in dealing with illegal whisky traders who were taking advantage of the Indian population. On this day #618 Constable Hart Alexander disarmed and arrested John Munro for supplying liquor to Indians. When he was returning his prisoner to Fort MacLeod, Munro attempted to flee on his horse. Constable Alexander promptly shot him in the leg with Munro’s own revolver, which had been seized earlier by the police.

1958 – While unarmed #17964 Constable William Pringle happened upon members of the Saint John NB City Police who were involved in a gunfight and foot chase. Earlier Police Inspector Littlejohn had responded to a domestic assault complaint and was shot and wounded by Mr. W.L. Osborne. Constable Pringle joined in the foot chase and during the pursuit borrowed a .270 cal. Rifle, and when the opportunity present itself, shot Osborne in the shoulder. The Saint John City police awarded Constable Pringle a commendation and Osborne was convicted and sent to prison.

1970 – While attending a family dispute complaint in Bella Coola, BC, #25485 Constable Philip Donald McKaig observed a youth run into a bedroom, he then heard the action of a shotgun. McKaig rushed into the room and wrested the shotgun from the boy who was intending to shoot him. The lad broke free from his grasp and ran out of the house but caught later and arrested. Constable McKaig received a Commanding Officers Commendation for his actions.

1971 The Attorney General of Alberta, the Honourable C. Mervin Leitch presented #15262 Staff Sergeant George W. Offley with the Province of Alberta Merit Award along with a cheque for $1500. The award was in recognition of his initiative in undertaking a complete review of the Provincial Stock Inspection Act. On his own time with the assistance of an employee of the Livestock Branch the Act was revised and updated. This was the first time a member of the RCMP in Alberta awarded the Provincial Merit Award.

1979 – After stealing a car, Norman Campbell decided to try and rob a service station in 100 Mile House, BC. Campbell produced a rifle and ordered Mr. Harry Harmon to turn over all of his cash, but Harmon refused and a struggle ensued. In the struggle Harmon was struck on the head with the rifle and Campbell fled the scene. Shortly thereafter Constables #22819 Thomas Earl and #31218 Thomas Kervin came across the suspect vehicle and gave chase. When Campbell abandoned his vehicle and attempted to steal a second he was confronted by the police officers whereupon Campbell raised his rifle and threatened to shoot them. Before he could shoot them he was shot and killed by Cst. Kervin.

1988 – The RCMP capture the “Monster of the Miramichi”; Allan Legere Notorious killer, who evaded police during a seven-month killing spree.

The convicted murderer escaped on May 3rd 1989 after he duped federal prison guards who had taken him to a hospital in Moncton NB. The guards let him go to the bathroom unattended where he picked the lock on his handcuffs with a homemade key he had hidden in a cigar. Then he used a piece of antenna that was hidden under his clothing as weapon to threaten the guards. He then fled the hospital, stole a vehicle and made his getaway.

While at large Legere terrorized the community of Newcastle (now part of Miramichi City) and murdered three women and a Catholic priest. His capture resulted from him commandeering a taxi in Saint John and forcing the driver to drive him to Moncton. On the way the vehicle slid into the ditch. A passerby, off duty constable #40643 Michelle Mercer stopped to provide the pair assistance and was taken prisoner as well and her car was used to continue the journey. When they stopped for gas in Sussex, Allan Legere went inside the gas station to pay for the fuel and Cst. Mercer used her spare set of keys to start the car and she and the cab driver sped away. Upon arrival at the local RCMP detachment she reported the details to dispatch. Meanwhile Legere hijacked a transport truck and head toward Rogersville on route 126 and was apprehended by Corporals #25443 Terry Barter and #33769 Gary R. Lutwick at a roadblock when

the driver of the truck jumped out.

In August of 1990 Alan Leger became the first person in Canada to be convicted of a crime utilizing DNA evidence and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

1996 – Constables #41857 Martin Trudeau and #44422 Nick Lee attended to a routine complaint of theft from a car, in Kamloops, BC. When they arrived on scene they found two youths in the car. One of the boys surrendered but the second fired two shots at Cst. Lee with a stolen revolver. The officers remained calm and did not return fire and then called in a police dog to track the gunman. The suspect was tracked and arrested, and when he was searched they found a second stolen revolver in his possession.

November 25

1941 – Honour Roll Number 70.


Photograph of the grave marker for Constable Charles Floyd Patterson (Reg. #11003) (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite Database).

#11003 / Constable Charles Floyd Patterson age 34 died, while serving with the R.C.M.P. Provost Company, overseas.

Constable Patterson had volunteered for duty with the Number One Provost Corps, which was comprised of RCMP members who were transferred to the Canadian Army during World War Two. He was transferred to the Provost Corps on June 12th 1940 in the third draft of reinforcements and shortly thereafter assigned to Worthing, Sussex England.

#M.40761 Lance Corporal Patterson’s life was cut short by a tragic accident when he died of asphyxiation while taking a bath in his billet.

The cause of the tragedy was due to the fact that he was unfamiliar with gas heater in his tent and he failed to light one of the gas jets and he succumbed to a buildup of gas fumes. The rest of his comrades had turned in for the night after a strenuous day of training and he was not discovered until the following morning.

He was buried in the Canadian section of Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey England with full military honours.

1946 – The Kings Police and Fire Medal recipient Cpl. Hugh Cecil Russell.

Two well diggers were digging a new well on a farm near the small town of Gunn Alberta. When they reached the 45-foot level, 22-year-old Edgar Belrose collapsed after being overcome by gas fumes. His partner 21 year old Kenneth Callioux ran to the farm house for help, and he and the farmer then rushed back to the scene and Callioux descended into the well to retrieve his partner but was overcome himself and collapsed. The farmer then rushed back to the house and called police. #11973/ O.454 Corporal Hugh Cecil Russell along with #13035 Constable John Edward Mead responded to the scene after obtaining two 60-foot lengths of rope.

When they arrived, they found steam billowing out of the 24-inch hole into the sub- zero prairie air and further complicating the matter. They observed that the boring machine that was used to drill the well covered the hole. Cpl. Russell quickly sized up the situation and instructed Cst. Mead to supervise the surface operation and he then wrapped a water soaked scarf over his mouth and nose and was lowered into the well.

Russell made four attempts into the well before he was able to tie a rope to Callioux’s arm, and have him raised to the surface. The rescuers then attempted artificial respiration but it was soon obvious that the man was dead. Cpl. Russell then made a fifth decent into the well but he was overcome by the fumes and rendered unconscious. He was pulled back to the surface and revived. Cst. Mead then offered to descend into the well but Cpl. Russell refused to let him go because of Mead’s physical stature and the small diameter of the shaft would have endangered his life. Russell then returned to the well a sixth time and succeeded in attaching a rope to Belrose’s body but the rope slipped off. After a seventh trip into the gas filled well Russell, succeeded in retrieving the second body.

In recognition of his gallantry in risking his life in the slim hope that the victims might be saved, and entering a well filled with poisonous gas fumes that could cave-in, Corporal Russell was awarded the rarely-conferred Kings Police and Fire Medal in November 1947.

Hugh Cecil Russell joined the RCMP in 1933 and retired as a Superintendent in 1968.

1962 – Marine section members #22138 Corporal John Ernest Samuel Bragg and #24323 Constable Leo Alexander Batherson were awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for bravery after they rescued two men from a sinking vessel in Malaspina Straits, BC during hazardous storm conditions.

November 26

1971 – Honour Roll Number 146.

Photograph of

Photograph of of Constable Michael Mason (Reg.#22830) grave marker (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).

#22830 Constable Michael Robert Mason age 28, drowned while on duty when the private aircraft, in which he was a passenger, crashed into the Courtenay River at Courtenay, B.C.

Four police officers from the Victoria area were flying to Campbell River in a rented Cessna 172 airplane to interview a suspect in a series of thefts. Two officers including the pilot were from the Victoria City Police and #16657 / O.916 Llewellyn Dempsey and #22830 Constable Michael Mason were from the RCMP.

When they departed the weather was overcast with light showers but as they proceeded north the weather deteriorated and ten miles south of Campbell River the pilot began looking for a place to land. As he tried to land on a dirt runway near Courtenay he clipped the top of some trees with one of the wings and the plane spun out of control and crashed into the Courtenay River. All four occupants of the plane were knocked unconscious and when Sgt. Dempsey awoke in the submerged plane he managed to push himself and the pilot James MacDonald to the surface. When workers from a nearby sawmill came to their aid everyone was accounted for except Cst. Mason. When he was located he was found still strapped in his seat at the back of the plane. By the time they removed him from the wreckage it was too late to revive him.

Michael Robert Mason joined the RCMP on September 9, 1962 and was survived by his wife Carole and their two children. He was buried at the Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria BC.

1972 – #26284 James A.R. Bryne received a Commissioners Commendation after an encounter with a man with a rifle on the Blood Reserve in Alberta. Bryne and Native Constable Camille Russell were working on the reserve when a man shot at Cst. Russell’s police car. When the gunman was located Byrne ordered him to drop the rifle, but instead he raised it and attempted to shoot, but it malfunctioned. Constable Byrne then overpowered the assailant and arrested him.