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

December 22

Photograph of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

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.

Photograph of

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 latter 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.

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.

1989 – While working at the small community of Wrigley, Yukon 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 a number of other criminal offences. For his bravery and professionalism Constable Cook was awarded the RCMP’s highest award, the Commissioners Commendation.

2003 – Commendation to #47571 Cst. Brent Elwood who stood in creek for one hour assisting an elderly man who and fallen in while hiking along Lynn Creek, North Vancouver thereby ensuring his safety until Fire Dept Rescue Team able to remove him. The man was suffering hypothermia and was at risk of being swept away.

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 stated at Fort Battleford - Saskatchewan (Source of photo - RCMP Veterans' Association - Vancouver Division photo - collection)

1906 – RNWMP members stated 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!

December 26

1901 – Honour Roll Numbers 24 and 25.

1898 - Photograph of the cabins and tent camp of the NWMP t Stikine River. Members in the photograph are Supt. Primrose and Comp. H.J. Woodside (Source of photo - RCMP Historical Collections Unit - "Depot" Division).

1898 – Photograph of the cabins and tent camp of the NWMP t Stikine River. Members in the photograph are Supt. Primrose and Comp. H.J. Woodside (Source of photo – RCMP Historical Collections Unit – “Depot” Division).

While on patrol from northern British Columbia three constables were paddling their canoe down the Stikine River in Alaska. The canoe was loaded with all of their personal gear and their sled dog. While attempting to paddle the river the boat was swamped and everyone went into the river

Constables #2972 Norman Malcolm Campbell and #3463 Spencer Gilbert Heathcote drowned while #3617 constable Michael J. Fitzgerald escape the raging river to live on.

Norman Campbell was from Brandon Manitoba and had joining the Force seven years earlier. His body was never recovered.

30-year old Spencer Heathcote joined the Mounted Police on January 1, 1900. Originally from England he was raised in Toronto. His body was found five months later and he was interred in the village of Wrangle, Alaska.

Ironically, Cst. Mike Fitzgerald (Honour Roll 40) the only one to survive continued to serve in the Mounted police for another 12 years until he was killed while working a dragline on a steamer on the White River when he was hit in the head with a sweep handle and knocked overboard. The crew succeed in retrieving his body from the river but he never regained consciousness and died from a fractured skull. The 37-year old son of Nova Scotia was buried in the cemetery in Dawson City, Yukon.

1980 – Winter rain storms on coastal British Columbia can cause rivers to rage and overflow. After several days of rain the Cheakamus River at Squamish spilled over its banks threatening the Geue family home. #32558 Constable Martin A. Thompson attempted to drive through the flood waters to rescue the family, but was unable to reach them so he called for a military Search and Rescue helicopter to assist. When the helicopter arrived Constable Thompson went aboard the helicopter and flying in dangerous winds located the partially submerged house and assisted the crew in rescuing six people from the home. In recognition of his quick thinking and courage he was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for bravery.

Photograph of a RCMP Commissioner's Commendation For Bravery.

Photograph of a RCMP Commissioner’s Commendation For Bravery.