Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP

Photograph of a RCMP motorcycle harley davidson

 

 

 

 

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 larryburden8@gmail.com.

August 28

Photograph of Sergeant Major Larry Henry Lett (Reg.#3156)

Photograph of Sergeant Major Larry Henry Lett (Reg.#3156)

1903 – #3156 Constable Henry (Larry) Lett received a commendation and was promoted to Corporal after he arrested an American gunslinger; the “Idaho Kid” in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

An American fellow by the name of Brandenberger who called himself the “Idaho Kid” came to Weyburn got drunk and began shooting at town signs and anyone who bothered to lean out of a window. From the veranda of the local hotel the “Kid” ordered a man who was walking down the street to hold up his hat, and then he riddled it with bullet holes. When the locals told him to keep quite or they would call the police, the “Kid” dared anyone to try and stop him and boasted that no Sheriff in Montana had ever tried to take him on and that he was the kind of man that would never be taken alive. When a citizen told him that he was going to call in the Mountie from Halbrite, the Kid boasted that he would eat his liver cold and then bet anyone in the crowd $25 that he was too hard and wild to be arrested by a Mountie. Three men in the crowd stepped forward and accepted his bet!

Constable Lett a decorated veteran of the Boer War who had spent eight years in the Dragoon Guards received the telegram from the local Justice of the Peace and wasting no time, flagged down a freight train and made his way to Weyburn. When he arrived he discovered that everyone was too scared of the gunslinger and all refused to back him up. After browbeating the JP into standing within hailing distance of the gunslingers hotel room, the 5’9”, 170lb constable walked up to the gunslingers door and knocked. When the Kid opened the door and saw the policeman he went for his pistol, but Lett jumped him and yanked the gun from his grasp. He then promptly handcuffed him and placed him under arrest. Having no jail to lock him up in, the good constable bound him up in his own hotel room and caught the train back to Halbrite the next day.

Sergeant Major Larry Lett took his discharge from the North West Mounted Police in 1918 and served with the newly created Saskatchewan Provincial Police for eight years. When that Police Force was disbanded he was appointed the Sergeant of Arms in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly in 1927 and served until his death in 1934.

1941 – At the sound of the tone… The official national time is established at the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa at 1 pm on this day.

1961 – After failing to appear in court on a charge of theft after being released on bail, David Fleming went on a rampage in the small community of Portugal Cove, Newfoundland. Over several days several local residents called the police to report that a man was running wild in area with a gun but all attempts to catch him failed. Late in the evening of August 28, Constables #17932 Charles Herman Spofford, #18502 / O.886 Murray Robert Evans and #21476 James Hilton Hartling dressed in civilian clothing, left the Detachment in St. Johns hoping to capture Fleming who had been reported sleeping at a home at Beachy Cove.

Constable Hartling was instructed to stay outside the home and rush to the sound of breaking glass in case their suspect attempted to flee the scene through a broken window like he had done previously. Constables Spofford and Evans then knocked on the door of the house and identified themselves to the owner who agreed to let them search the house for Fleming. As the policemen were about to search another bedroom, the home owner suddenly stepped in front of them and flung open the bedroom door and then stepped aside. Fleming appeared pointing a gun at the constables and ordered them to raise their hands and turn around or he would shoot them. Both men complied and Fleming attempted to search Constable Spofford for his service revolver. When he couldn’t locate it he told him to turn around slowly. In the process Spofford managed to distract Fleming by taking off his gloves and then pounced on the gunman, grabbing the pistol and pushing Fleming across the room and into the wall. Constable Evans then smashed a window to alert Hartling and then managed to wrestle the gun from Fleming’s hand and toss it to Constable Hartling. After his arrest David Fleming was returned to court and received two years in jail for skipping bail and being possession of an offensive (stolen) weapon.

For their courage Constables Spofford and Evans were awarded the Commissioners Commendation for Bravery.

August 29th

1919 – After several years of not allowing cars in the province.

Prince Edward Island removes ban on automobiles.

1921 – While off duty in Regina #5317 / O.303 Sergeant Walter Henry Lougheed observed members of the Regina City Police and the Saskatchewan Provincial Police pursuing three bank robbers. When he attempted to assist the other policemen Lougheed was shot and wounded in the left knee by one of the robbers. The police were successful in capturing the trio. Charged with robbery and shooting with intent to kill were W. LaMarr, A. Woodman and J.J. Lollarine. Sergeant Lougheed received a Commissioner’s Commendation for his actions.

1964 – FLQ terrorists hold up a gun store in Montreal.

1974 – Detachment commanders often spend more time in administration than they do conducting frontline law enforcement. On this day #17711 Sergeant Warren Hoover displayed courage and discretion when he disarmed a potentially dangerous person at Nipawin, Saskatchewan. He was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation.

August 30

1970 – At approximately 12:15 a.m. the detachment at Redwater, Alberta received a report that a 10-ton tractor-trailer loaded with lumber had flipped on Highway 46 near Abee, Alberta, and that the driver was pinned inside the wreckage. Immediately constables #24772 James A. Clark and #26877 / O.1620 William B. Vye were dispatched to the scene and were joined there by Constable #24304 William G. Johnston from the neighboring Boyle Detachment.
When the trio arrived at the scene of the crash, they discovered that the entire area was soaked in diesel fuel from the truck’s leaking gas tanks and that the driver, Robert Barrie Taylor was pinned and could not be removed until the truck was raised. Once the tow truck was secured to a heavy farm tractor, and it managed to lift the wreckage 18 inches off the road, Constables Clark and Vye crawled inside the cab to assist the injured driver. Then Constable Johnston managed to squeeze inside the cab through a broken window and proceed to cut the victims boots off so his pinned legs could be freed. Once the rescue team was able to position some hydraulic jacks in place and raise the vehicle further, they were finally able to pull Mr. Taylor free of the wreckage. The rescue took over an hour to complete, all the while the rescuers ran the risk of having the vehicle catch fire from the spilled fuel.

Commissioners_commendation_web2

For their courage and coolness displayed in the rescue, all three men were awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation.

1974 – Harry Alexander Reid SC

Constables #28956 Harry Alexander Reid and #28336 Bernard Pilotte were following a tractor trailer on the Trans Canada highway near Gaytons, N.B. when the truck suddenly collided with an oil tanker that had crossed over the center line to avoid smashing into the rear of a car that had stopped suddenly on the road. The truck then burst into flames after it smashed through the guardrail and rolled into the ditch trapping the unconscious driver and his passenger between the seat and the dashboard. Despite the intense heat and smoke, Constable Reid climbed into the cab of the truck and freed one of the occupants and dragged him to safety. He then returned to the cab and assisted by Constable Pilotte and a civilian, Russell Stewart and the three men managed to free the second man just before the truck’s gas tanks exploded engulfing the vehicle in flames.

On February 16, 1976 Constable Harry Alexander Reid was awarded Canada’s second highest award for bravery, the “Star of Courage.”

1993 – While serving as the commander at the Plaski Civilian Police Station in the former Yugoslavia, #35101 Constable William Marshall Eubank found himself and his staff under heavy artillery shelling. In addition to the extreme danger he was in, he had several members of his staff on the verge of hysteria. Constable Eubank succeeded in calming the frightened station monitors and ensured their protection by successfully evacuating them to safety. For Constable Eubank’s professionalism in the face of great danger, the commander of the United Nations Protective Force “UNPROFOR” formally recognized him by honouring him with a “Mention in Dispatches” (MID). An MID is normally awarded to a soldier whose name appears in an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the high command. In the report the soldier’s gallantry or meritorious action in the face of the enemy is described. Those who are mentioned in dispatches do not receive a medal for their actions, but are instead receive a certificate and wear a special decoration that consists of a single bronze oak leaf, that is worn on the ribbon of campaign medal, or worn on the left breast of the dress uniform if there is no medal associated to duty.

1995 – As a result of their actions at the Gustafsen Lake standoff, near 100 Mile House, BC. Commanding Officer Commendations were awarded to #26483 Corporal Timothy Kain for establishing an explosive security plan at the high risk area, and to #32702 Constable Helen Mahon for organizing the logistical needs and #33989 / O.1927 Robert Morrison for establishing communications system.

August 31

1883– Calgary Alberta’s first newspaper The Calgary Herald, Mining and Ranche Advocate and General Advertiser published by Andrew Armour and Thomas Braden was publish this day. The newspaper still exists to this as the Calgary Herald.

1898 – Constable Ernest Edward Pearson age 26 died of typhoid fever at Bennett Lake Detachment at the end of the Chilkoot Pass in Yukon. Pearson a native of Whitewood Saskatchewan enlisted in the NWMP in 1897 and was sent north to deal with the onrush of gold seekers coming to the Yukon. He contracted typhoid due to the deplorable living conditions he and 12 other members had to live in. He was buried at the Bennett Cemetery. Over 100 years later a contingent of dozen RCMP members and veterans attend a rededication ceremony at the graveyard and Constable Pearson’s original tombstone was replaced with a new one created by Whitehorse craftsman Frank Jurak.

1955 – A placard-waving mob of Ukrainian nationalists were waiting for delegation of visiting Soviet-farming experts to arrive at the airport in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When the mob of protestors mistook four plain-clothes RCMP members for the Soviets they attacked them and began punching and kicking the officers. Police from the Mounties, the Winnipeg City Police and the Railway police mobilized quell the potential riot. The visiting Soviets were rushed downtown and placed under protective guard in a hotel.

1981 – Honour Roll Number 168.

Photograph of Constable James Thomas (Reg.#

Photograph of Constable James  Franklin Thomas (Reg.#29685)

#29685 Constable James Franklin Thomas age 30 was killed in a police motor vehicle accident, near Christina Lake, British Columbia.

While patrolling on Highway# 3, near Christina Lake, British Columbia, Constable Thomas entered a blind curve in the road. Unfortunately he encountered a tractor-trailer that was being driven was driving too fast for the road conditions. 22 year old Robert Arnold Jensen had exceed his trucks critical speed for the curve and drifted across the centerline and collided headon with Constable Thomas’s police car, resulting in a four car crash. Jim Thomas was badly injured and died enroute to the hospital in Grand Forks. Robert Jensen was charged with criminal negligence causing death, but it was little consolation to Constable Thomas’s wife Karen who was pregnant with their second child.

James Franklin Thomas joined the on April 11, 1972. He was buried in his family plot in the Wilford Cemetery near Lindsay Ontario. Six weeks after his death, Karen gave birth to their son James Franklin Thomas Jr.

1983 – Honour Roll Number 175.

Photograph of Constable Richard Bourgeon (Reg.#

Photograph of Constable Richard Bourgeon (Reg.#28498_

#28498 Constable Richard Allan Bourgoin age 33 died during a foot pursuit of a suspect on the Piapot Reserve, near Southey Saskatchewan.

At approximately 11:00 am Constable Rick Bourgoin and Special Constable Willard Wuttunee responded to a complaint that a 17-year-old native man named Laurie Cappo was causing a disturbance on the Piapot Reserve. When they arrived on the reserve, the pair could not locate Cappo, but ended up arresting two other individuals on other matters.

During the arrest the policemen learned the location of Campo and drove over to where he was. Upon their arrival, Campo ran from the building and fled into the nearby bush. Constable Bourgoin then chased after Cappo leaving S/Cst.Wuttnee to secure their two prisoners. When S/Cst.Wuttnee finished securing the prisoners he rushed into the bush to assist his partner and found him lying unconscious on his back 20 yards into the bush. He then ran back to his police car and returned to place Constable Bourgoins lifeless body in the back of the car and then rushed him towards the hospital in Regina. While en route Wuttnee advised the radio dispatch of the situation and they in turn sent and ambulance to assist. The two vehicles met 13 miles north of the city and Rick was transferred to the ambulance and rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

An extensive ground search was conducted on the reserve and Laurie Cappo was apprehended later the same day. In the course of the investigation, Cappo insisted that there had been no physical contact between him and Constable Bourgoin and that the officer had not got within 50 feet of him during the foot chase. Once the investigation was completed the results of the autopsy confirmed Cappos claims. While chasing Cappo in the intense summer heat, Constable Bourgoin had suffered a massive heart attack.

Though the constable was in good physical shape and had never missed a day of work in his 13-year career. He suffered from moderate hypertension and more significantly, was genetically predisposed to heart disease. Investigators discovered that his father had died from a heart attack at the age of 39.

Richard Allan Bourgoin joined the RCMP on October 26, 1970. He was married and he and his wife Donna had three young children. He was buried at the RCMP cemetery in Regina.

1989 – #36343 Constable Joseph Guy Denis Amyot, a police dog handler stationed at the Ottawa Airport was enjoying a day off when he heard on the news that a building in Ottawa had experienced a devastating gas explosion and was in danger of collapsing. When he heard that there were still some people still trapped inside, Constable Amyot rushed to the scene with his police dog “Jocko” and volunteered their services to search for the trapped victims. Even though the building was structurally unstable and there was a real possibility of a second explosion the dog man accompanied by Captain Gerard Patry of the Ottawa Fire Department, entered the building and began searching for victims. Despite the very real danger, they succeeded in locating and rescuing a missing boy, who was found buried in the rubble.

For their courageous search, Constable Amyot and his German Shepard “Jocko” along with Captain Gerard Patry were awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery.

1996 – Shortly after 6:00 pm #39527 Constable Gilles Joseph Blinn and Auxiliary Constable David Banks received a report of a man climbing on the superstructure of the Burton bridge near Oromocto, New Brunswick. The Burton Bridge towers over 300 feet above the mighty Saint John River and has been the scene of many suicides in the past.

Constable Blinn and his partner were only a short distance away when the call came in and they arrived at the scene within seconds. There the policemen found a mentally distraught man pacing back and forth on top of the bridge rail hugging a teddy bear while he proceeded to strip and throw his clothing into the river.

Expecting the man to jump before he could reach him, Constable Blinn removed his excess clothing and equipment in case he had to dive into the river to retrieve the victim. Then, he climbed up the superstructure without a safety harness and enroute found a letter stuffed underneath a grate that the distraught man had written. The letter revealed that the suicidal man was depressed because his girl friend had left him and taken his infant daughter away.

Though he had never received any training in crisis counseling, Constable Blinn, perched precariously atop the bridge, used the insight gained from the letter to counsel the distraught man for over 3 ½ hours.

Constable Blinn’s ordeal was made even more difficult when a crowd of onlookers gathered below and began yelling at the disturbed man and taunted him to jump. The members on the ground quickly silenced the obstructive onlookers and Blinn continued to calmly reassure the man and convince him not to jump. Eventually Constable Blinn succeeded in talking the man down and escorted back down to the bridge deck.

In recognition of his courage and professionalism Constable Gilles Blinn was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for Bravery.

September 1

1905 – On this day the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan join the Dominion of Canada becoming 8th and 9th provinces.

1944 – #1070 / O.367 Constable Cortlandt MacDonell was captured by the German Forces while serving in Italy with the RCMP Provost Corps during WW2. He spent the rest of the war as P.O.W. After the war he returned to active duty in the RCMP and retired in 1966 as a Chief Superintendent.

1974 – A youth broke into a hardware store in Birtle, Manitoba and stole a rifle and then went outside and shot at a passing car, wounding a passenger in the vehicle After the police were called the gunman ran back into the store and when Constables #26446 Thomas E. Walker and #31044 R.W. Watson, arrived he shot at the policemen when they asked him to give up his weapon.

When backup officers #22762 Corporal Bruce A. Kineshanko and #26829 / O.1848 Gerald Richard Grattan arrived on scene the youth came out of the store holding one rifle to his chin threatening suicide and pointing a second rifle at the police. For a short while the young man threatened to shoot himself if people didn’t stay back, but suddenly asked for a cigarette. Corporal Kineshanko used the opportunity to move within 15 feet of the gunman and tossed a cigarette towards him. When the youth bent over to pick up the cigarette, Kineshanko rushed him and kicked one rifle out of the way and with the assistance of Constable Grattan subdued him. Corporal Kineshanko was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation and Memorandums of Appreciation were issued to the other three constables.

Photograph of (left to right) – Commissioners Robert Simmonds, Norm Inkster and Guiliano Zaccardelli.

1977 – It seems that September 1st is a good day for appointing new Commissioners of the RCMP as three have been appointed on this day:

#14885 / O.600 Robert Henry Simmonds, OC becomes the permanent sixteenth Commissioner of the Force and serves until August 31, 1987.

Norman David Inkster becomes the seventeenth permanent Commissioner of the Force and serves until he retires on June 24, 1994.

Guiliano (Zack) Zaccardelli becomes the nineteenth permanent Commissioner in 2000 replacing Phillip Murray who retires the same day.

September 2

1752 – This marks the last day the Julian calendar was used in Britain and the Colonies. The Gregorian calendar was designed to correct the fact that under the Julian calendar there was a problem with having an extra leap year. The new calendar went into effect the following day, with the date being adjusted to September 14, dropping 11 days from this year for the adjustment. Most other countries made the adjustment over 200 years earlier in 1582!

Photograph taken by Harold Feiertag – “Buffalo Solders” at Medicine Hat (Source of photo – Harold Feiertag).

1874 – On this day during the march west the first buffalo were encountered and shot. Commissioner French noted in his diary “a very fine beast about 10 years old; he made, when dressed, 953 lbs. ration meat” again on Wednesday, September 23rd 1874 he noted —“Saw immense quantities of buffalo, estimated at 70 or 80 thousand by Macleod and I”.

1912 – Members of the Royal North West Mounted Police participate in the first Calgary Stampede parade.

Photograph taken from the Rose Marie movies starting Nelson Eddy leading a group of RCMP members (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

1925 – The new Friml-Hammerstein-Harbach Operetta “Rose Marie” opens on Broadway in New York to rave reviews. The cast features a group of baritone Mounties and smash hit song, “Indian Love Call”. In 1936 the production is made into a Hollywood movie starring Nelson Eddy as Sergeant Bruce and Jeanette Macdonald as Marie de Flor. Other big names in the movie include James Stewart as John Flower and David Niven as Teddy. A remake of the movie, this time filmed in Jasper Alberta was made in 1954.

1942 – #11371 Corporal Laurence P. Ryder was attacked from behind by Arnold Blaney and received a heavy blow to the head and then struck his head on a car bumper, as he was falling. The subsequent attack led to his death several months later from a stroke caused by a cerebral hemorrhage. (See January 20, 1943, Honour Roll Number 105)

1976 – Fifty years to the day from when it opened, the Detachment at Moose Factory, Ontario was closed.

1985 – #35327 / O.1820 Constable Dwight William Robinson earned both the Commissioner’s Commendation for bravery and the Medal of Bravery while working at Stettler, Alberta. When without regard to his own safety he rushed into a burning building and saved the life of Miss Rita Anderson.

After arriving at a two-story building that had a fire burning at the rear of the structure, Constable Robinson used his police car loud hailer to alert the occupant of the house and learned from her that her apartment was at the end of a long corridor that could only be accessed by an enclosed staircase. He then told her to wait for him by the door of her apartment and he would come get her. Then braving the toxic fumes that were coming from burning plastics in the toy store on the ground floor, Cst. Robinson rushed up the stairs, found Miss Anderson and escorted her to safety.

September 3

1894 -The new public holiday “Labour Day” is officially celebrated in Canada for the first time.

Photograph of one end of the RCMP Commissioner’s Tip Staff (Source of Photo – RCMP Quarterly).

1970 – The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police presented the RCMP’s first Commissioner’s Tipstaff to Commissioner W.L. Higgitt.

The tradition of the tipstaff dates back to 16th century England. Then a “tipped staff” was the symbol of authority for a variety of law enforcement officials and evolved into a badge of the King’s authority for law enforcement. Eventually the staves evolved into hollow tubes, with a tip that could be unscrewed and serve as a receptacle for transporting arrest warrants and other legal documents. Today the Commissioner’s Tipstaff is a symbol of the solemn responsibility and authority for law enforcement borne by the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and it has been passed from every outgoing Commissioner to the new Commissioner at the change of command ceremony.

1978 – Around 8:00 pm the Detachment at The Pas, Manitoba, received a call from a woman regarding two men and a four year old girl who were adrift on a makeshift raft on Lake Winnipegosis. The lake was nearly 100 kms (60 miles) south-east of The Pas, and it was becoming too dark to conduct an effective search.

Thinking quickly, Detachment constables #31696 Kenneth G. Gallant and #34400 / O.1831 J. W. Richard Roy contacted Mr. Chris Duncan a local pilot and were soon enroute to the scene by float plane. After landing in the dark on rough water, the trio were pointed in the direction that witnesses had last scene the missing group. After taxing over a mile from shore with the two constables calling out into the darkness while standing on the aircraft’s floats, they found the trio clinging to a partially submerged air mattress.

As Constable Gallant was pulling one of the men onto the airplane float, he saw the other man and the child lose their grasp on the air mattress and then the child slipped below the surface. Passing the first man to Constable Roy, Gallant and the pilot dove into the water and fortunately Constable Gallant was able to locate the child and returned her to the airplane. Mr. Duncan managed to get hold of the other man but had difficulty swimming the man back to the airplane because the wind was blowing the craft away from them. Constable Gallant then dove back into the lake and assisted the pilot in swimming the man back to the plane.

In recognition of their courage under hazardous conditions in saving the lives of three individuals, Constable Gallant and pilot Chris Duncan were awarded the Commanding Officer’s Commendation and Constable Roy received a letter of commendation form Officer Commanding Thompson Sub Division.

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