Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP

Photograph of the RCMP shamrock MP and Crown (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 #35982 Sgt. Larry Burden who 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

July 10

1970 – #22368 / O.1173 Corporal Michael O’Rielly skipper of the Police Vessel “Advance” was dispatched to investigate a complaint of a 16-foot dory drifting off of Bowen BC.

When he found the boat he discovered that there were three drunken men sleeping in it. He secured it to the police boat and too it under tow. Fifteen minutes later the youth in the dory youth woke up and demanded that they be cut loose, when the police refused he grabbed a .22 rifle and aimed it at Cpl. O’Rielly’s head and then moved it to the right as he fired a shot. The member ignoring threats of being shot hauled the dory to the police boat, boarded the dory and attempted to wrestle the gun free but only managed to seize the ammunition clip. He then returned to the police boat and continued the tow. The youth then attempted to cut the towline with a broken bottle and swamped the dory. The three drunks were taken on board the police boat and transported to Gibsons Detachment where the youth was lodged in cells. For his “courage, restraint and presence of mind” Cpl. O’ Rilley was awarded a Commanding Officers commendation.

July 11

1873 – After American whisky traders massacre group of Assiniboine’s in the Cypress Hills in what is now Alberta the outcry is heard in parliament. The Cypress Hills Massacre becomes the event that finally forces the Government to create a police to bring law and order to the Canadian West and leads to the creation of the North West Mounted Police.

1966 – The M.G. Griffiths Certificate of the Royal Life Saving Society was awarded to #22360 Constable Viktor Pankratz, for saving the life of 12-year-old Heather Minamide. He performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on her after she had drowned in a motel pool in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

July 12

1963 – Terrorists use dynamite to destroy Queen Victoria monument in Dominion Square in Montreal Quebec.

1979 – While patrolling in the detachment boat near Queen Charlotte City on the Queen Charlotte Islands in northern BC, Native Special Constable Russ was overcome by carbon monoxide that was leaking from the engine exhaust. #29229 Constable David G. Dickson pulled the unconscious Russ outside the cabin into fresh air and began performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his partner while the boat thrashed around in the rough seas. While attending to Russ he managed to get a distress call off to the Ministry Of Transport and had to contend with water leaking into the vessel through the leaking exhaust. The nearby vessel “Banjo Point” operated by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Babcock rushed to the scene and Arthur Babcock took Constable Russ to the hospital in his skiff while the Banjo Point towed the police boat to shore. For his actions in saving the life of native S/Cst Russ, Constable Dickson was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation.

1987 – Corporal #27886 J.F. MacKenzie was presented a Commanding Officers Commendation for his work with the Military Police on a six month investigation into thefts from the National Defense Supply Stores in Halifax NS.

1987 – Members of the “H” Division (Nova Scotia) Emergency response team were pressed into action when they were required to board and a effect a deep ocean arrest of the Motor Vessel “Amelie” which was involved in smuggling 174 Sikh refugees into Canada off of the coast of Charlesville, NS

Commanding Officers Commendations for bravery were issued to #21538 Arnold A. Bennett, #23631 Sergeant Donald R. James and #29371 A.D. Darrah for their role in the investigation.

1997 – Constable #41537 G.L. Sage and fire department personnel utilizing a helicopter, rescue eleven rafters from the Sulphur River near Grande Cache, Alberta.

July 13

1898 – #3201 Constable J.C. Scudamore drowned while swimming with friends in Old Man’s River. He called out to his friends as he slipped below the surface. His body was recovered following day in 3½ feet water. He was buried in the Fort MacLeod Union Cemetery plot 17. He joined the NWMP in 1897.

Memorial plaque mounted in the RCMP Chapel at "Depot" Division (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles).

Memorial plaque mounted in the RCMP Chapel at “Depot” Division (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

1963 – Honour Roll Numbers 121, 122,123, 124.

#17368 Sgt. Kenneth Morley Laughland age 31, #19626 Cpl. Robert William Asbil age 29 and constables #18570 Proctor Laurence Anthony Malcolm age 30 and #19206 William John David Annand age 27 were killed in an RCMP aircraft, that crashed when it attempted to land at Carmacks, Y.T.

Photograph of the aircraft crash scene (Source of photo Whitehorse Daily Star Newspaper).

Photograph of the aircraft crash scene (Source of photo Whitehorse Daily Star Newspaper).

What should have been a routine flight and landing for CF-MPO turned into a tragedy that cost the lives of four policemen and a civilian prisoner. Sgt. Morley Laughland was a pilot who had plenty of experience flying a float equipped DeHavilland Beaver. The Beaver was the RCMP’s workhorse and a very popular and dependable bush plane. Sgt. Laughland was flying Cst. William Annand and his 56-year-old prisoner back to Whitehorse from Mayo. Also on the flight were Cpl. Robert Asbil and Cst. Proctor Malcom who had traveled to Mayo to conduct an interview, to only find that their suspect had moved to Carmacks. The plan was to drop the two men in Carmacks and then proceed back to Whitehorse. At approximately 8:00 pm the pilot made his approach to the river and on his second circle over the landing area, the aircraft suddenly lost altitude while banking to the left and plummeted 200 feet and crashed nose first into a ditch. All five men were killed instantly. Subsequent investigations into the crash never arrived at a definitive conclusion but the generally accepted cause was believed to be from a sudden downdraft, a phenomena often experienced by local pilots in this area.

Photograph of RCMP Sergeant K Morley Laughland (Reg.#17368).

Photograph of RCMP Sergeant Kenneth Morley Laughland (Reg.#17368).

Kenneth Morley Laughland was a 12-year member of the Force and had been flying full time for five years and was married and had two children. His remains were buried at the Cedar Valley Memorial Garden in Nanaimo BC.

Cpl. Robert William Asbil was originally from Rawdon Quebec and was buried there at the Anglican Cemetery. He left behind his wife and 10-month old daughter he had been in the RCMP for seven years.

Cst. William John David Annand was single and had joined the RCMP in 1955. His brother escorted his remains back to their hometown of Summerston Ontario where he was buried at the Salem United Church Cemetery.

Cst. Proctor Laurence Anthony Malcolm was a native of Truro Nova Scotia and had joined the Force in 1954. His wife Mary had his remains returned to her hometown of Lethbridge Alberta, and he was buried at the Mountainview Cemetery.

1985 – Constable #37100 J. H. Roger Plamondon responded to a complaint of a deranged man on the Big Cove Reservation, near Richibucto, NB. When he arrived, the suspect confronted him armed with two knives. Plamondon successfully disarmed the violent man and promptly arrested him without injury to himself or the assailant. He was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation for bravery in part read “Your action and judgment brought credit not only to yourself but to the Force as well, for which, by not using the ultimate amount of force, shows we are in fact protectors of life and not takers of life”.

2004 – The great buffalo hunt of 2004!

#48711 Constable Clint Lange became the first Mountie since the March West to become involved in chasing sown and shooting an enraged bison. Several buffalo escaped from the slaughterhouse at Westwold, BC, and were running loose in town breaking down fences and creating traffic havoc on Highway 97. One enraged buffalo charged and damaged a truck. Several of the buffalo were shot but a number of them managed to escape and are still on the loose anywhere from Monte Lake to Falkland BC.

2010 – Honour Roll #228

Many of the Police officers that have died on duty in Yukon Territory have died because of drowning and such was the case of Constable #57529 Michael Bernard Potvin who drowned this day in the Stewart River at Mayo, Yukon.

Corporal #39849 Brent W. Chapman had recently transferred into Mayo as the new detachment commander. As he was familiarizing himself and establishing his priority list of things to address, he identified the detachment boat as one of those priorities. The vessel was old looking and dirty and he was advised that the engine was not functioning properly and the boat had a habit of taking on water. He decided to take the boat out on the Stewart River to do a test run and he invited 26-year old rookie constable Potvin along. Neither man wore a life jacket.

They went about one kilometer and ran out of gas so they returned to shore and refilled the fuel tanks. When they went back out on the river, the engine began acting up and stalling, several attempts to restart the engine failed. While they tried to start the auxiliary engine, the boat drifted in the 10 kph current, water poured into the motor well and then into the boat. Shortly thereafter the boat swamped and capsized putting both policemen into the frigid water. Cpl. Chapman stayed with the overturned boat but Constable Potvin decided to swim to shore wearing his bulletproof vest, uniform boots and gun belt. He didn’t make it

Witnesses at the scene later testified they thought he was going to make it to shore when suddenly his head and arms shot straight up and he disappeared. Another witness said Potvin yelled to others to help Chapman before he disappeared into the water.

Several investigations into the cause of this death were carried out and all ruled that it was an unfortunate accident that could have been prevented had he been wearing a life jacket.

At the Coroner’s Inquest, #44349 / O.3065 Sergeant Blake Ward, a RCMP marine investigator, testified that the over the year’s improper modifications had been made to the boat. He testified that he found evidence of changes to the stern that included holes in the motor well. In addition, there was a partial blockage in the fuel line filter that would have caused the outboard motor to repeatedly stall. Ward also noted that the combination of two engines was too heavy for the boat and caused it to float to low in the stern and the holes that had been made in the motor well, enabled water flow directly into the boat.

Constable Michael Bernard Potvin was from Osgood Ontario and had only been in the RCMP since May 4th 2009. Mayo was his first detachment. On July 30th 2010, his body was recovered 50 – kilometers down river. He funeral was conducted at the St. Patrick’s Basilica in Ottawa the same church where he and his wife Allison were married. Over 1000 people attend the funeral to support his parents and his widow and their unborn son Jack. On July 13th 2011 the community of Mayo dedicated a monument at Binet Park in Mayo to Michael Potvin’s memory.

Corporal Brent Chapman left the RCMP in 2016.

July 14

Photograph of NWMP Supt. Arthur Griesbach.

1883 – The “Edmonton Bulletin” reported on an interesting solution to drunken lawyers. In the article “Court sits on Wednesday, three lawyers lots of fun.” The newspaper explained that a Supreme Court Judge only visited Edmonton two or three times a year to hear serious cases and that the excitement seemed to be too much for some local lawyers who invariably became drunk by time court opened. The local NWMP Superintendent #O.32 Arthur Griesbach, who also happened to be a Justice of The Peace which was common in the early days of the West, solved the problem by ordering his men to arrest all of the members of the Edmonton Bar for vagrancy. He then sentenced them to appear in court the day of Supreme Court opening ensuring that all of the lawyers would be there on time and sober. His Wild West approach to the law would have made even Judge Roy Bean proud!

1958 – Honour Roll Number 113.

#18165 Cst. Carl Lennart Sundell age 24, was accidentally shot at Herschel Island, Y.T.

Constables Sundell, #19418 Mack Prokopchuk, #19894 Murray Petrie and a local schoolteacher, Andre Quevillon were repairing a drive shaft on RCMP schooner “Herschel”. The vessel was on shore in a cradle and Constable Sundell was working outside the boat while others worked inside. From time to time, Andre Quevillon would come out of engine hatch to shoot at seals in the harbour with .22 rifle equipped with a scope. Whenever he went back below he would lay the rifle on the cabin roof. As he was about to shoot at a seal and closed his left eye to look through the scope he fired the rifle just as Constable Sundell, climbed the ladder in front of his line of fire. The shot intended for the seal hit Sundell in the head and killed him instantly.

Photograph of Jerry Potts - NWMP Guide.

Photograph of Jerry Potts – NWMP Guide.

1896 – The Mounted Police’s most famous Scout “Jerry Potts” died of tuberculosis at Fort MacLeod, Alberta. The famous Métis scout and interpreter who helped NWMP secure the loyalty of native people throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan was initially hired as guide and translator but stayed on with the fledgling Force and played a vital role in Western history. A couple of example of his notable service included arranging the first meeting between Assistant Commissioner James Macleod and Blackfoot leaders in fall of 1874 and assisting Officers in convincing the Blackfoot to remain neutral during North West Rebellion of 1885.

1974 – Commanding Officers Commendations were earned by Corporal R.M. Coombs and Constable N.C.E Davidge after they rushed into a burning building in Whitehorse Yukon and forcibly removed the owner.

1976 – The House of Commons abolishes the death penalty by a free vote of 132-124.

1991 – #34452 Constable D.W. Scott had been dispatched to a domestic disturbance in Port Alberni, BC after an intoxicated man was locked out of the house by his irate wife; the man grabbed his rifle and fired over 20 shots. For over an hour the police attempted to negotiate his surrender and when he was momentarily distracted, Constable Scott rushed and tackled him pulling the rifle from his grasp. In recognition of his courage and quick thinking Scott was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation for bravery.

1991 – After responding to a disturbance complaint at the Canadian Forces Cadet Camp near Whitehorse, Yukon, #38016 Constable Charles J.A. Gauthier took charge in dealing with an armed suicidal Cadet. Acting in a calm and compassionate manner Constable Gauthier eventually convinced the youth to turn over his weapon and accompany him to the hospital. In recognition of his courage and compassion Gauthier was awarded the Commanding Officer’s Commendation.

July 15

1931 – Even though the sacred sun dance was declared illegal by the Canadian Government. Chief Buffalo Bow of the Fire Hills Reserve near Regina Saskatchewan spent two days performing the sacred dance in an attempt to bring an end to drought conditions plaguing the area. Afterwards it rained for two solid days.

1941 – RCMP Honour Roll # 102

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at "Depot" Division in Regina. The colour red highlights the name of

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at “Depot” Division in Regina. The colour red highlights the name of Special Constable Henry Clare Jarvis (Reg.#S/4218) (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

#S/4218 Henry Clare Jarvis drowned near Lock 25, Cornwall – Williamsburg Canal, at Iroquois, Ontario. Having served in the military during WWI Henry Jarvis was too old to reenlist during WWII. He was desirous to serve his country again, so at the age of 51 Henry Jarvis joined the RCMP as Special Constable on the 19th of July 1940 and was posted as a guardsman at the Cornwall Canal on the St. Lawrence River. During his shift on this day he accidently slipped and fell into a lock and drowned.

Little is known of #S/4218 Henry Clare Jarvis and oddly his death was not recorded in the RCMP annual report for the year ending March 31, 1942. He was buried in the Old St. James Anglican cemetery in Morrisburg, Ontario. He does not have an RCMP marker on his gravesite, but is listed on a marker with two other family members.

1955 – The RCMP uses radar for traffic enforcement for the first time in Canada.

Photograph of the first radio unit used in the RCMP at Burnaby Detachment. Unit was called "The Eye." (Source of photo - Barry Bradley's Photo Collection)

Photograph of the first radar unit used in the RCMP at Burnaby Detachment. Unit was called “The Eye.” (Source of photo – Barry Bradley’s Photo Collection)

Burnaby BC Constables #16520 Edmund Clark and #16069 William Stacey operated the radar in the police car while #17856 Constable William Hulgaard pulled cars over. One of the speeding tickets was appealed before County Court Judge Sullivan who allowed the appeal on the grounds that the police were not properly trained in the use of radar. His decision resulted in the creation of one-week radar courses for the police and the requirement that certificates be issued.

1973 – While on routine patrol near Valemont, BC detachment commander Corporal R.R. Bouck came upon a collision between two tandem trucks that were in the ditch and one of the vehicles was on fire.

He was advised by the injured driver of one of the trucks that two people were trapped inside the burning vehicle. Corporal Bouck managed to remove the unconscious driver through the broken windshield and instructed the other driver and a passerby to remove the unconscious man from the area in case the truck exploded. With flames burning inside the cab of the truck, he climbed inside the cab and freed the second unconscious victim who was wedged beneath the dash and then pulled him out through the broken windshield.

Had it not been for the courage of Corporal Bouck both men would have perished in the flames. To show their appreciation for his heroism the citizens of the Town of Valemont presented him with an inscribed mantle clock at a ceremony on January 26th 1974. Other than the clock from the community, he never received any formal recognition from the RCMP.

1979 – Constables #28987 Eric Brian Thorne, MB and #30551 Allen Robert Hopper, MB responded to an industrial accident complaint at Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, where three men had collapsed due to breathing carbon monoxide gases in the underground chamber of a sewer lift station. Upon their arrival at the scene they were advised that if the men were not removed quickly, all three victims would die. Fully cognizant of the hazards involved in attempting a rescue, the two officers willingly risked their lives and entered the underground gas filled compartment. In spite of the difficulties of breathing gaseous fumes, and hauling the dead weight of the victims they succeeded in hoisting the men to safety. For their heroic efforts in saving the lives of these three men both constables were awarded The Medal of Bravery on June 19, 1981.

2003 – The Commissioners Commendation for Outstanding service was awarded to Sergeant #27653 Jakob Bouwman and Defense Counsel Glen Purdy of Sparwood BC for their innovation, dedication and initiative in the creation and development of the Sparwood Youth Assistance Program for young offenders. In 2005 both men were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for this program.

July 16

1895 -During a severe thunderstorm at Battleford NWT, lightning struck the Quarter Master stores, and traveled into a canteen killing a dog lying at the feet of #1943 Frederick Currier. It then traveled into #2606 George McPhail’s room tearing a blanket and partially melting the barrel of his carbine rifle.

1924 -The Province of Saskatchewan repeals the prohibition of liquor, which had existed since 1916 and institutes government control of liquor sales.

1950 – Honour Roll Number 107.

Photograph of Constable Herschel Taylor wood (Reg.#14757) Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).

#14757 Cst. Herschel Taylor Wood died of injuries received in a police car accident near Glacier Park, Montana, U.S.A., while on duty.

On July 15th 1950, Constables Herschel Taylor Wood and #13591 William A. Shaw were returning to their detachment in Cardston Alberta from an investigation that had taken them to Montana. Constable Shaw had done most of the driving during the thirteen-hour trip and they had stopped in Glaicer Park to change drivers. Wood took over driving while Shaw went to sleep as they proceeded through the fog. For an undetermined reason their car went over an embankment eighteen miles south of Cardston and plunged into a narrow creek bed and crashed into a concrete abutment. Both officers were severely injured and Wood was transported to by ambulance to the Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary, 150 miles away, where he died the next day.

Constable Herschel Taylor Wood was a third generation member of the Force and the son of the Stuart Taylor Wood, the serving Commissioner of the RCMP at that time. He had a rich family heritage that entwined both RCMP and American history.

His brother John Taylor Wood, was also a member of the Force who retired in 1988 with rank of Superintendent. Their grandfather, Zachary Taylor Wood, served in the NWMP and the RNWMP from 1885 to 1915 and rose to the rank of Acting Commissioner of the RCMP.

Zachary Taylor Wood’s father was the famous Confederate Naval Commander, Captain John Taylor Wood who after the American Civil War, settled in and is buried at Halifax Nova Scotia. He was the nephew of the Confederate President, Jefferson Davies and the great-grandson of the twelfth President of the United States Zachary Taylor.

Constable Wood was interred with full military honors at the RCMP Cemetery in Regina. In a funeral ceremony befitting his ancestry his flag-draped coffin was borne from the RCMP Chapel on a gun carriage drawn by two teams of horses. Followed by a rider less horse with boots reversed in the stirrups, and a funeral cortege that included a thirty-six-piece RCMP band, a firing party, and a ninety member marching squad.

July 17

1976 – Queen Elizabeth II officially opens the Summer Olympic Games before an enthusiastic Montreal crowd of 73,000 even though the Stadium is unfinished, and 21 countries, mostly African, boycotted the games. The Games of the XXI Olympiad are Canada’s first Olympics and will cost over $1.5 billion dollars. A total of 6,085 competitors from 92 nations compete over 16 days and Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci makes history with two perfect 10 scores. Canada will win five silver and six bronze medals, becoming the first host country in the modern Olympics to not win a gold medal.

2007 – Mr. William J. S. Elliot became the 22nd Commissioner of the RCMP on July 16, 2007. He is the first civilian to become the permanent Commissioner in the history of the Force.