Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP


Photograph of RCMP Officer leading the Musical Ride (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).





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

The following are Larry’s latest “This Day In The RCMP” listings.

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 Number113.

#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

#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 radio 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

Photograph of Constable Herschel Taylor Wood (Reg. #14757) (Source of photo – RCMP Veterans 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.

July 18

1951 Alexander Zakopiac and Albert Proux were two notorious criminals who robbed the East branch of Imperial Bank of Canada in East Kildonan, Manitoba and fled on foot into the bush with the $6920 they got in the robbery. The pair was later found in Vivian MB and in the ensuing gun battle that occurred, #15298 Constable John Friend was wounded. Albert Proux was killed in the exchange and Zakopiac was arrested by constables #17047 George Annand and #15848 / O.699 George Currie. Alexander Zakopiac was sentenced to 30 years in prison but succeeded in escaping in 1955 after he had been transferred to the Selkirk Mental Home. He was eventually recaptured in 1979.

1977 Parliament passes new laws to control purchase and use of firearms, and to increase police wiretapping powers.

1997 With only twenty minutes to before his shift ended at 0400 hours #41277 Constable Barry Thomas notice a yellow glow in the sky near the airport in Swan River Manitoba. He rushed to the scene and found The Belcher residence on fire and the attached garage engulfed in flames. His arrival coincided with one of the owners of the house arrival from inside the burning build and she quickly explained that she could not call for help because the fire had knocked out the phone line. Constable Thomas observed that Mr. Betcher was in shock and assisted him out of building but when he looked he saw Mrs. Betcher rush back into the burning building.

Even though the family car parked in the garage was in danger of exploding and the growing smoke and flame inside the house Constable Thomas rushed back into the house and went from room to room looking for her and anyone else that may have been in the building. Unbeknown to him the woman had left the house through the back door without his knowledge. He complete searching every room and returned to the street whereupon he found Mrs. Betcher and proceeded to care for them until other emergency services arrive. For his selflessness and bravery Constable Thomas was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation.