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

April 2

1885 – Shortly before dawn Cree War Chief named “Wandering Spirit” (“Kapapamahchakwew, Papamahchakwayo,) also known as Esprit Errant; along with seven other Cree warriors’ attacked the settlement at Frog Lake Saskatchewan. Having been exposed to the ideas of Louis Riel, and resentful of the local Indian Agent, Thomas Trueman Quinn’s policy of “no work, no rations”, he and his raiding party trashed the Hudson Bay Post and police barracks.

Photograph of Indian Agent Thomas Truman Quinn.

When Quinn refused to be moved to the Cree encampment “Wandering Spirit” shot him in the head and ordered the death of all of the whites. Eight more people, sawmill operator John Gowanlock, farming instructor John Delaney, Catholic priests Rev. Leon Fafard and Felix Marchand, clerk William Gilchrist, trader George Dill, carpenter Charles Gouin, and John Wolliscroft, Father Fafard’s lay assistant were then killed. The only three survivors; William Bleasdell Cameron, Theresa Gowanlock and Theresa Delaney were taken prisoner.

Wandering Spirit along with Bad Arrow (Manchoose), Iron Body (Nahpase), Little Bear (Apischaskoos), Miserable Man (Kitahwahken), Walking the Sky (Pahpahmekeesick) was eventually captured and hanged on November 27, 1885 at Battleford, Saskatchewan, in what became the largest mass execution in Canadian history.

1942 – Columbia Pictures releases the movie “North of the Rockies” (also known as “Royal Canadians”) starring Bill Elliott as Sergeant Bill Cameron and Tex Ritter as American lawman Tex Martin.

Photograph of the Columbia Pictures poster for “North Of The Rockies.

Both men are after a gang of men who are smuggling furs across the border. When the villain Morgan sets up Tex to be found with furs, the Mountie arrests him for smuggling. But he lets him go hoping Tex will lead him to his gang. Eventually the two lawmen join forces and capture the real bad guys.

Making an appearance in the movie as Constable McDowell is a young Lloyd Bridges who is in his second Mountie Movie. (the first being “the Royal Mounted Patrol” in 1941)

1967 – Retired Mountie murdered by neighbor.

Johannes E. Nyman a friend and neighbor of a retired Mountie #7905 Howard Rayner came over to his house and asked him to phone a doctor because Nyman’s landlady was ill and then went back home. The elderly retired constable who had served in the Force from 1919 – 1922 made the phone call and shortly thereafter the distraught neighbour returned and said that if doctor didn’t come soon he would shoot Rayner.

Photograph of the grave marker for Retired Constable Howard Johnson Rayner. 

A few minutes later he arrived back at Rayner’s armed with a rifle and shot through the door killing Rayner. The neigbours heard the shot and phoned the Kimberly Detachment and shortly thereafter policemen arrived at the scene and found themselves being shot at by Nyman. The police returned fire and Nyman and after he was wounded by #17810 Eldon Rodger, #23870 Constable Donald Butler rushed the wounded gunman and tackled him. Eight months later Nyman was sentenced to six years for manslaughter.

1974 – Honour Roll Numbers 148 and 149.

Photographs of Constables Joseph Michel Benoit Letourneau and Joseph Henri Clement Tremblay.

Constable #28371 Constable Joseph Michel Benoit Letourneau age 23 and #29978 Constable Joseph Henri Clément Tremblay age 21 were killed in a police motor vehicle accident at St. Etienne des Gras, Quebec.

Constable Letourneau was driving an unmarked police car in a snowstorm on Highway 55 a few miles south of Shawinigan, Quebec. With him was his partner from the Trois Rivieres Detachment, Constable Clément Tremblay. As Letourneau attempted to pass a moving school bus his car became hindered by the heavy slush in the center of the road and as he tried to get back into the right lane they were hit head-on by an approaching tow truck. The collision spun their car around into path of the school bus and both men were crushed between the two larger vehicles. Fortunately no one was injured in other vehicles, but both members killed.

Constable Letourneau was survived by his wife Marie and was buried at Saint Georges Ouest in Beauce, Quebec.

Constable Tremblay was buried at the St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in Chicoutimi, Quebec.

1986 – Commanding Officers Commendations were presented to #17550 / O.1018 Inspector S.G. McNaughton, Sergeants #23631 Donald Roy James, #24958 R.M.B. Crowhurst, #28326 Corporal P.W. Pitts and #32130 Constable C.A. Paley in recognition of there work on a major drug investigation that resulted in the seizure of 13 tons of Hashish.

Photograph of Retired RCMP Commissioner William Leonard Higgitt (Reg.#12979/O.0435).

1990 – Former Commissioner William Leonard Higgitt passed away at his home in Ottawa. He first joined the RCMP on July 1, 1937 as a reserve constable #R/200 and became a regular member #12979 in September of the same year. Commissioned as Sub-Inspector #O.0435 in 1952 he rose quickly through the ranks becoming the Commissioner on October 1, 1969 and held the position until he retired in 1973.

1990 – Commendation issued to #40559 Lorne H. Adamitz for the arrest of an impaired and suicidal man north of Valleyview, Alberta. (looking for more details)

April 3

1898 – A landslide on the Chilkoot Pass kills 72 people who are attempting to climb the pass on their way to the Yukon Gold Rush. #003 Inspector Robert Belcher leads his men down the slide to assist with the recovery and identification of the victims.

1956 – #15347 Constable Henry “Bud” Johnstone and #17200 Corporal Al Beach responded to a bank alarm at the Cariboo Trail Shopping Centre in Coquitlam, BC. As Johnstone entered the bank during the robbery he was shot at several times by members of the Banks Brothers Gang. Corporal Beach who was in position outside returned fire and killed gang member Herbert Howerton. #18031 Constable Bert Schroeder arrived on the scene as back-up and arrested gang members; William Banks, Howard Folster and William Gordon.

The remaining gang member Gary Owen fled in the get away car, but was soon intercepted by Burnaby detachment constables #16446 John Fielders and #16596 Hanson who pursued and eventually apprehended him. All four members of the gang were sentenced to 25 years in prison.

For his bravery Constable Henry Johnstone was promoted to Corporal the next day and he later received the George Medal for bravery. Corporal Al Beach received a commendation. Both men served full careers and Johnstone retired a Superintendent and Beach a Staff Sergeant.

1974 – #9447 / O.345 Retired Superintendent James Alexander Churchman is invested as a member of the Order of Canada.

2002 – While snowmobiling on the Haines Glacier summit following a set of snowmobile tracks #29237 Corporal Ken Putnam and #44396 Constable Kirk Gale stopped to choose a path of descent off of the glacier. Corporal Putnam stepped to one side of the snowmobile to take photograph when the snow and ice beneath his feet gave way and he fell 30 meters down into a crevasse. After a twelve-hour rescue he was brought back to the surface having only suffered minor injuries. The story of this harrowing brush with death was published in an article in the April 2003 Readers Digest magazine. Corporal Ken Putnam retired in 2005 after serving for 35 years.

April 4

1940 – Commendation issued to #11754 Aime Monte for his part in an Excise Act investigation, ‘C’ Division (Quebec).

1986 – Honour Roll Numbers 181 and 182.


#21066 Corporal Budd Maurice Johanson age 50 and #A/3512 Auxillary Constable Frederick Allan Abel 23 were killed in a head on collision near Lethbridge Alberta.

The two men were traveling in a marked police car on Highway Number 3, a divided highway, six miles east of Lethbridge without knowing that there was a vehicle coming towards them in on the wrong side of the highway. Back at the Detachment office #33155 Constable R.D. Muskovich received a complaint of a truck driving with no lights and traveling on the wrong side of road going in the wrong direction but before Muskovich could get to the radio to warn Corporal Johanson they had already been killed in the head on collision along with the intoxicated driver of the truck was and his sleeping passenger were killed.

Budd Johanson had been in the RCMP since 1959 and had been married for 22 years and had three teenage children. He was buried at St. Michaels Cemetery in Edmonton. Frederick Abel was single and after a funeral in Lethbridge his remains were cremated.

1988 – #27640 J.T.N. Fradet was traveling snowmobile from Rankin Inlet to Cape Fullerton with a guide Lucien Taparti and his son Luke Coady. Near Depot Island Lucien Taparti shot and wounded a polar bear, which severely mauled him. Despite the cold and blizzard conditions, Fradet transported the injured guide to Saqvaqjuac and then on to Chesterfield Inlet where he was medi-vaced to a hospital where he recovered from his injuries.

April 5

1931 – Syndicate Pictures releases the movie “Riders of The North” starring Bob Custer as RCMP hero Sgt. Stone. The plot Co-starring Blanche Mehaffey, and Eddie Dunn features the heroic Mountie on a case where he tries to figure out who killed one of his men.

When the case reveals that the real murderers are attempting to frame an innocent man for their crime, Sgt. Stone intervenes and saves the day. A native of Kentucky, Raymond Glenn who chose the stage name Bob Custer was an actual cowboy who began performing in rodeo shows and moved onto the movies in the 1920’s. The introduction of “talkies” quickly put an end to his silent movie career because he couldn’t remember his lines. Over the course of his eleven year acting career he performed in 55 movies.

Phototograph of the RCMP Vessel Adversus (Source of photo - Page 87 - The History of the RCMP Marine Services by Kenneth John Haycock).

Phototograph of the RCMP Vessel Adversus (Source of photo – Page 87 – The History of the RCMP Marine Services by Kenneth John Haycock).

1933 – The RCMP Cruiser “Adversus” under the command of Chief Petty Officer #12136 E. L. Croft departed from Halifax NS on a voyage to Vancouver BC via the Panama Canal. The 117-foot cruiser completed the trip in only 38 days, arriving ten days ahead of schedule having traveled 6,766 miles. The Adversus was transferred to the Navy. She was lost at sea during WW2, when she was grounded during a gale off of McNutts Island near Liverpool NS on December 20th 1941. The sixteen-member crew was able to safely evacuate the sinking ship without any loss of life.

1939 – Acting Lance Corporal #10915 Samuel J. Leach accompanied by eight Native Indians participated in the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales “Royal Easter Show” in Australia.

The fame of the Calgary Stampede had reached the organizers of the Australian event and motivated them to make a formal request to the Department of Indian Affairs and the RCMP to send a group to tour Australia. The natives were selected for their Rodeo riding ability and were from different tribes. Joe Crowfoot from the Blackfoot; Joe Bear Robe, Frank Manyfingers and Joe Yong Pine from the Blood. Edward Onespott and Jim Starlight of the Sarcee; Johnnie Lefthand and Douglas Kootenay of the Stony. The multi-day event attracted nearly one million people.

1958 – The world’s largest non-nuclear explosion to date occurs when Ripple Rock a significant shipping hazard in Seymour Narrows near Campbell River, BC is blown up.

April 6

1935 – Commendation issued to #12041 Constable Henry Maxted for locating a missing person in a blizzard. Maxted served from 1933 to1970 retiring as an Assistant Commissioner.

1942 – WWII, 11th reinforcement draft to the Provost Corps included #10170 Cortlandt MacDonell, #13283 Ernest Shortt, #13467 Lorne Fennell and #13542 Albert Sewell.

1967 – Former Commissioner of the RCMP George Brinton McClellan is appointed ombudsman of Alberta, becoming the first ombudsman in Canada.

Photograph of RCMP Beechcraft mounted at "Depot" Division (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles).

Photograph of RCMP Beechcraft mounted at “Depot” Division (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

1971 – The first new plane purchased by the RCMP after WW2; a Beechcraft D18- “CF-MPH” was officially turned over to the RCMP museum and was placed on a pedestal outside of the museum at Depot. This historic aircraft was in service for 24 years and flown by 45 different Force pilots. Flown all over Canada and the United States the plane logged over 11,286 hours and flew in excess of 2,000,000 miles.

1977 – Honour Roll Number 152.

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at "Depot" Division with the name of

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at “Depot” Division with the name of Constable Dennis Shwaykowski highlighted in red (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

#25308 Constable Dennis Modest Nicklos Shwaykowski age 31 was killed when he was thrown off a moving truck, while attempting to apprehend the driver.

The Red Deer Alberta detachment received a call reporting there had been a “looney” at a local pub with a shotgun and that he was now driving around the mall in his pickup truck.

The suspect, Stan Hicks and his girl friend had broken up earlier and the jealous Hicks had spotted her that evening at the pub and had gone home for some weapons. Constables Shwaykowski and #27461 Dave Guy were working in the area in plain clothes and responded to the call. As they proceeded to the pub they spotted Hicks in his truck and Constable Shwaykowski ordered Hicks to get out of his vehicle. When Hicks ignored the policemen’s orders to get out of the vehicle and began to drive away Constable Shwaykowski made the mistake of jumping on the running board of the moving truck and attempted to arrest Hicks by grabbing his shirt. As the men struggled Hicks accelerated to a speed of about 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour and drove toward a landscaped area of rocks and shrubbery. When the truck struck the curb, Constable Shwaykowski lost his balance and was thrown from the running board, and struck his head on some boulders and was killed instantly. Stanley Hicks pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death and was sentenced to three years in prison. Dennis Shwaykowski was buried at the Birchwood Cemetery in Swan River Manitoba.

April 7

1877 – The saying that the Mounties “always get their man” is usually considered to be the creation of Hollywood. But, surprisingly, the phrase can be traced to 1877, many years before the film industry. In 1877, the Fort Benton (Montana) Record reported the following story from Fort Macleod:

“Thanks to the vigilance of Major Irvine and the energy of Captain Winder, of the N.W. Mounted Police, another attempt to smuggle whiskey has been frustrated by the arrest of three men, who were tried, found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of five hundred dollars each or be imprisoned for the minor period of six months. They preferred the former. Horses were sacrificed for the arrest, but the M.P.’s are worse than bloodhounds when they scent the track of a smuggler, and they fetch their men every time.”

1964 – Commendation awarded to #16590/ O.584 Jack Denison Routledge D.F.C. for his bravery in apprehending man who had threatened to kill a member of the Force. He served from 1950 to 1979 and 2003 after having retired as a Chief Superintendent he authored a book about his life entitled “Lancaster’s & Lanyards“.


In which he described his adventures the Royal Canadian Air Force in WW2 where he joined Bomber Command as a rear gunner at the age of 16 and flew in over thirty bombing raids and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross as well as his adventures in the British Columbia Police Force and the RCMP.

1980 – Commanding Officers Commendations were issued to #30078 Christopher Fernandes and #34583 R.L. Eldridge for apprehending a mentally unstable man with handgun. Constable Fernandes served for several years as a member of the “E” Division (British Columbia) Underwater Recovery Team and became the first police diver in Canada to contract Aseptic Bone Necrosis and had to get a hip replacement. This did not end his career the black belt in karate received a new hip in 199? And returned to active duty.

April 8

1931 – Constable #10732 Joseph Sixsmith is sent to Big River, Saskatchewan to open a new Detachment. Located north of Prince Albert, Big River was the departure point to the far north, and the graded dirt road leading to it ended fifteen miles south of town thereby leaving the traveler a choice of a number of winding trails leading out of the into the bush. The new detachment office was also the constable’s house, a medium size bungalow with no electricity or water and a wood stove for both heat and cooking. The office phone was listed in the directory as number nine, that being the total number of phones in Big River at the time. In addition to policing the village by himself Constable Sixsmith was also responsible for policing a large rural area covering the Big River Indian Reserve, Shell River, Debden, Stump Lake, Park Valley, and as far north as Dore Lake. Paroling these areas in the 1930’s often meant getting the police car hung up on a stump or stranded in a mud hole. Sixsmith served from 1929 to 1957 and retired as a Staff Sergeant.

Photograph of the face and reverse of the King's Police Medal For Gallantry (Source of photo - The Sclaret Force Collectors website).

Photograph of the face and reverse of the King’s Police Medal For Gallantry (Source of photo – The Sclaret Force Collectors website).

1942 – The Kings Police Medal for gallantry was awarded to #11979 Lionel Fred Muirhead Strong, for his bravery on this day in rescuing a nine year old boy from a crumbling cake of ice in the Hillsborough Bay harbour, in PEI.

After a report that a young boy was adrift on an ice flow was received, several members of the RCMP and the Charlottetown City Police rushed to the scene, but no boat was available. When the ice flow the child was on broke in two and he fell into the frigid water, Constable Strong stripped off his hat and tunic and wearing his high brown boots and breeches dove into the frigid water and swam two hundred yards to the child’s aid. When he reached the boy he was clinging to a broken piece of ice with only his head above the surface. Grabbing hold of the child he towed him back to shore. Prior to the implementation of a Canadian bravery awards system in 1972, the King’s Police and Fire medal which was instituted in 1909 was the highest civilian award for bravery for police officers in the British Empire.

Constable Strong joined the RCMP in 1933 retired as a Sergeant in 1958.

1942 – Many fund raising activities took place across Canada by a variety of organizations during WWII, and the police were no different. Through the efforts of Windsor Ontario policeman James Wilkinson and the Police Association of Ontario $25,000 was collected to purchase a Spitfire MK fighter plane for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Pilot Officer Gordon Hoben (in cockpit), Sir Philip Came, commissioner of the Scotland Yard, and Air Marschall Harold Edwards admire stencilling on donated Spitfire BL 900 during its acceptance ceremony in North Weald in England (Source of photo - Airforce magazine - Summer 2002 edition - page 53)

Pilot Officer Gordon Hoben (in cockpit), Sir Philip Came, commissioner of the Scotland Yard, and Air Marschall Harold Edwards admire stencilling on donated Spitfire BL 900 during its acceptance ceremony in North Weald in England (Source of photo – Airforce magazine – Summer 2002 edition – page 53)

On this day in 1942 the first plane named “Canadian Policeman” BL900 was formally presented to the RCAF in North Weald England and assigned to the 403 Squadron. Present at the dedication ceremony were RCMP Provost Corps members #11507 Major George Ball, #12609 Captain James Stewart, #11747 Lieutenant Charles Wilson, #11965 Lieutenant Maurice Byers and #12604 Lieutenant Henry Law.

The pilot chosen to fly her into combat was #12568 Pilot Officer Constable Gordon Francis C. “Ben” Hoben, who had served as a Wellington bomber pilot in Italy and Germany. Unfortunately the spitfire was destroyed on May 4th 1942 during a taxiing accident. The nameplate was transferred to another plane but sadly Hoben was killed and the “Canadian Policeman” was destroyed when on July 11th 1942 Hoben decided to show off in front of his former Bomber Squadron (102) buddies and do some hot-dogging over top of the Topcliffe Aerodrome. After flying between two hangars below the rooftops, Hoben rolled his Spitfire and lost control of the aircraft and crashed.


Over the decades a number stories about the “Canadian Policeman” appeared in a variety of publications (including the RCMP) that told the tale that the Spitfire was badly shot up in combat and that Pilot Officer Hoben heroically managed to land his plane near but died soon after. The propaganda that was created to portray Hoben as a hero was deemed necessary so as to deceive the enemy and the Canadian public because the Air Force still needed recruits. The five-year veteran of the RCMP was buried in England. Hoban joined the RCMP June 22, 1935 and served in “D”, “F” and “O” Divisions.

1950 – The RCMP Schooner “St. Roch” leaves Esquimault Harbour and journeys to Halifax trough the Panama Canal. Commanded by Inspector #11814 / O.372 Kenneth William Newman Hall arrives in Halifax on May 29, 1950 becoming the first vessel ever to circumnavigate North America.

1978 – Commanding Officers Commendations were awarded to Constables #31682 Dana B. Gibbons and #34152 M.K. Stewart along with civilians Mr. N.G. McPherson and Darren Page for saving the life of a man by rescuing him from burning house at Churchill, Manitoba.