Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP

Photograph of NWMP cap badge on map

 

 

 

 

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.

September 12

1921 – Constables #9171 Albert Cook, #9165 George Levy and #9168 Raymond Swinimer received commendations for their devotion to duty after an explosion at the Imperial Oil Plant, at Port Royal Nova Scotia.

1945 – Two constables earn the King’s Police and Fire Medal for Bravery.

The heavy betting by two men and a woman at the Covehead racetrack near Charlottetown P.E.I. attracted the attention of other track enthusiasts who reported the matter to the RCMP. Acting on a hunch that the trio may have been involved in a series of bank robberies in Ontario, Constables #12963 William H. Warner and #13610 Thomas J. Keefe decided to check on the trio, little did they realize that it would lead to a brush with death at the hands of two fugitives wanted in five Provinces.

The policemen quickly located an out of Province Ford Coupe and decided to observe it until the owners returned. Shortly before the end of the last race of the day the trio approached the car and was confronted by the two officers. They claimed to be Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jensen of Halifax and Walter Peter Kerr of Chatham, Ontario, and produced what appeared to a legitimate registration certificate. But the men seemed evasive in answering questions about the car and their identities, so they were advised that they would have to accompany the police to Charlottetown for additional questioning with the two unarmed policemen.

Cst. Warner got into the coupe with the Jensen’s, and proceeded towards the city while Cst. Keefe and Kerr followed in the police car. Two miles down the road Jensen pretended to lose control of the car and ran it into the ditch causing his pregnant wife to smash her head into the windshield. While Constable Warner attempted to assist the unconscious women, his partner pulled up behind them and rushed to the vehicle to see what was wrong. As Warner backed out of the car he found himself and his partner facing the two men with drawn revolvers and being ordered to lie face down on the ground. Instead of ceding to the gunmen’s demands Cst. Keefe began slowly advancing towards the captors and when both gunmen turned their revolvers towards him, Cst. Warner rushed forward diverting their aim at him. Jensen then pulled the trigger four times at Warner but the gun sounded with four hollow clicks! Cst. Warner then tackled Jensen and knocked the gun from his hand. As he struggled with Warner, Jensen screamed at Kerr to shoot the two police officers. Kerr hesitated and Cst. Keefe continued his advance and calmly reasoned with him, telling him that if he killed the policemen they could not escape because they were on an island. Warner believing the second gun wasn’t loaded urged his partner to rush the gunman because the gun wasn’t loaded. Kerr replied by firing a shot between the two constables. Seeing that Keefe’s reasoning with the gunman appeared to be working so he joined in convincing him to drop the gun and give up. After several tense minutes Kerr gave in and dropped the weapon. When the officers checked the two handguns they found them both loaded but the first had been loaded with the wrong kind of ammunition. The first gun was a centre fire revolver and had been loaded with rim fire ammunition. Had the right ammo been used the outcome would have been certain death for the two policemen.

Investigation revealed that the documents the officers had been provided were forgeries and the suspects were identified as Ulysses Lauzon age 23, who had escaped from the county jail in Kitchener Ontario and Walter Koresky age 22. The search of the two men and their cabin at Cavendish resulted in the recovery of over $8000 in cash and Victor bonds that they garnered in a series of bank robberies in Ontario and Quebec.

The pair admitted to investigators how they planned to murder the two policemen and dump their bodies to make their getaway.

On January 22, 1946 both constables were presented with the King’s Police and Fire Medal at a ceremony in Charlottetown. At the time this was the highest award given for bravery.

William H. Warner served in the RCMP from 1937 to 1961 retiring as a Corporal; Thomas J. Keefe served from 1940 to 1964 and retired as a Staff Sergeant.

1983 – Canada expels 2 Soviet diplomats for trying to obtain prohibited high technology equipment.

1986 – Medal of Bravery -# 30615 J. L. Régis Bonneau, M.B

While off duty a woman who saw two masked men armed with a sawed-off shotgun leave their getaway vehicle and enter a grocery store in Chicoutimi, Quebec approached Constable Régis Bonneau.

He then sent her to call the local police and though unarmed, went over to the suspects’ vehicle that was still running, turned off the ignition and removed the keys. He then hid behind another vehicle and waited for the robbers’ to return. Shortly thereafter the two suspects rushed out of the store and jumped into their vehicle but then got out and began looking for the keys.

Still alone and unarmed, Cst. Bonneau identified himself as a policeman and displayed his police badge shouting to the men to put up their hands up. Emerging from his hiding place Bonneau then attempted to take away the driver’s gun but he resisted and a struggle ensued. When the second robber realized that Bonneau wasn’t armed, he rushed to his partner’s assistance. During the struggle Cst. Bonneau succeeded in removing the mask of one of the suspects, who then ran off while he struggled with the second man. With the assistance of three other men he succeeded in overpowering and arresting him. When the Chicoutimi municipal police arrived Cst. Bonneau got into a patrol car and with the local police caught the first robber who escaped on foot.

On August 18, 1988, J. L. Régis Bonneau was presented the Medal of Bravery.

Photograph of the Canadian Medal of Bravery

Photograph of the Canadian Medal of Bravery.

1989 – After pursuing a vehicle in a high-speed chase near Mayo, Yukon, Constable #34203 Mike E. Loerke working alone found himself with a fully loaded rifle pointed at his head by one of the occupants of the vehicle. Loerke grabbed the barrel of the weapon and pulled from the grasp of his assailant. After arresting all of the occupants he found a second loaded rifle inside the vehicle. For his courage and presence of mind he was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation for Bravery.

1999 – Michael Gerald Stanford MB, Patrick Maurice LePage MB, Medals of Bravery

Constables #37504 Michael Stanford and #42385 Patrick LePage from the Kimberley, British Columbia detachment were dispatched to a fire at a residence in an apartment building. When they arrived on scene they were advised that a mentally disturbed man was still inside his basement apartment. Ignoring the risk to them the two policemen went into the burning building crawling on their hands and knees through the smoke and flames. Overcome by the acrid smoke, Constable Stanford made his way back to the front door only to find that it had closed behind the officers.

Cst. LePage continued to battle the smoke and flames and soon found the unconscious man laying on his smoldering bed in a back room. Barely able to breath, LePage pulled the man off of the bed and following his partners voice succeeded in dragging the unconscious victim through the smoke to the front door where Constable Stamford helped him get the man up the stairs and out of the building. Both Constable LePage and the victim were then taken to hospital and treated for burns and smoke-inhalation.

Both Patrick Maurice LePage and Michael Gerald Stanford were awarded the Medal of Bravery for their actions.

September 13

Photograph of Sam Steele (Source of photo – RCMP Historical Collection – “Depot” Division).

1882 – O.40 Supt Samuel Steele was given the tasking to construct a new headquarters outside the new capital renamed “Regina” from its former name “Pile of Bones”. The site is still in use today as the Training Academy for all new recruits to the Mounted Police. For most of its history it was known a “Depot Division”.

1909 – As a result of arresting several cattle thieves who had been rustling cattle throughout the district near Red Deer Alberta. Constables #4245 Robert Ensor, 1709 John Nicholson and #4259 Charles Martin were awarded $100 from the Fine Fund. A tidy sum when the men were earning a paltry $1.00 per day! – Check out A Salute To Dennis E. Massey here

Photograph of Supt. Dennis Massey while involved in the G8 Kananaskis (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo collection).

Photograph of RCMP Supt. Dennis Massey (Source of photo - RCMP Gravesite Database).

Photograph of RCMP Supt. Dennis Massey (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite Database).

1982 – After completing an 18 month international undercover drug operation that resulted multiple charges related to the seizure of 71 kilos cocaine in Venezuela and nine 9 kilos of cocaine in Buffalo, New York, #27513 / O.1540 Dennis Massey was awarded the Commissioners Commendation. Superintendent Massey was killed on duty in 2002 while serving in Calgary Alberta. See December 18, 2002.

1996 – While exercising his police dog #PDS/462 “Chip”, on his day off #34521 Constable Doug Lewis received a call advising him that a man had run the toll booth on the Coquihalla highway near Hope BC and after a criminal pursuit had fled on foot into the bush. Constable Lewis and Chip were not far from the scene and upon arrival were advised that the suspect was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt and was believed to be unarmed. Though Lewis did not have his duty equipment with him he decided to conduct the track unarmed with two backup officers providing him cover. During the 3.2km track of the suspect, the backup officers became separated from Lewis and Chip in the dense bush.

While running on 30’ lead Chip located Robert Petrus hiding behind a tree, and attacked and bit him on the arm; the suspect then pulled a knife and stabbed the dog in the throat. The dog then backed off to gain momentum for a second charge but in the process tangled the lead around his handler’s legs as Petrus rushed and attacked Constable Lewis stabbing him several times in the arms chest and face. Though fatally wounded Chip rallied and continued to attack his assailant until he bled to death. Petrus and Lewis continued to fight for the knife until the attacker ran off into the bush.

Though seriously wounded, Constable Lewis removed his shirt and wrapped it around his partner’s throat in an attempt to stem the bleeding but soon realized that Chip was gone. As he stared into his partner’s lifeless eyes Lewis realized that Chips last dying act saved his life but he now needed to get medical help for himself and reluctantly left his dog behind and staggered back to the highway where he flagged down a passing motorist.

Shortly thereafter an intense manhunt involving seven dog teams and a helicopter ensued resulting in Petrus being captured 7kms away by Corporal George Beattie, and his police dog. While the search proceeded Constable Lewis was rushed to hospital by helicopter where he underwent surgery and received over 50 stitches.

Robert Petrus was charged with attempt murder but was found mentally unfit to stand trial.

In recognition of Chip’s heroism in saving Constable Lewis life the Town of Hope commissioned local chain saw carver to carve a statue of Chip. Hundreds of members of the RCMP and other agencies attended a ceremony at the town park in Hope on a brutally cold day in December to unveil the statue of Chip and honour their fallen comrade.

In recognition of his heroism and commitment to duty Constable George Douglas Lewis was awarded his second Commissioners Commendation for Bravery.

September 14

1874 – On this day #392 Sub Constable Elliott Thornton decided to leave the detachment to hunt for fresh game. He ended up getting lost and his horse collapsed from exhaustion and malnutrition. He eventually found his way back to camp five days later. The hard life in the fledgling Mounted Police Force was not to his liking and he left the Force after only a year.

1906 – The very first automobile in Yorkton, Saskatchewan was owned by the local doctor, Dr. Thomas V. Simpson. The good doctor gave the local detachment commander a ride in his new car. As they sped through town at a whopping speed of 15 miles per hour, the terrified Staff Sergeant #3430 / O.149 Christen Junket pleaded “For God’s sake stop or we’ll be killed!”

September 16

1891 – The first Ukrainian settlers arrive in Edmonton Alberta.

1960 – RCMP Air Division pilot Staff Sergeant #15969 / O.633 Robert Lorne Fletcher responded to a mayday call of a United States Air Force Otter. The bush plane that was carrying eight people had developed engine trouble and was forced to make an emergency landing in rugged terrain near the mouth of Knegland Bay in the NWT. Flying a floatplane, Fletcher rushed to the scene and battling poor visibility and piloting an overloaded aircraft succeeded in rescuing the crash victims. In recognition of his meritorious service the US Air Force awarded him with ‘a scroll of appreciation.”

1974 – The first 32 women sworn into the RCMP as regular members began their training at Depot. All of the women were sworn in at exactly the same time in every Province in Canada except Prince Edward Island. The first female troop was Troop 17/1974 and 32 years later on December 16, 2006 one of its members Deputy Commissioner Beverly Ann Busson LLB, COM, OBC was appointed the RCMP’s interim Commissioner following the resignation of Commissioner Zaccardelli.

September 17

1954 – Honour Roll Number 109.

Photograph of the grave marker for Constable Douglas Earl Ferguson (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).

#15802 Constable Douglas Earl Ferguson age 26, died of carbon monoxide poisoning aboard a boat near Cape Alexander, N.W.T.

Constable Douglas Ferguson had joined the RCMP in 1949 and after serving for two years on the East Coast of Canada, applied for northern service. The day before his death he boarded the 40’Hudson Bay trading boat “Kingalik” along with four other men at Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island. He was traveling to Bathurst Inlet to work on a number of files.

Early the next morning Lorne Woodward discovered Constable Ferguson along with Peter Natit and Asger “Red” Pedersen unconscious in the cabin below deck. Suspecting carbon monoxide poisoning, he shut off the main engine and assisted by Jack Ehakataitok pulled the men out of the cabin. Peter Natit and “Red” Pedersen quickly regained consciousness and survived. Unfortunately Constable Ferguson could not be revived after 20 minutes of artificial respiration.

The Coroner’s investigation determined that Ferguson had died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a defective engine exhaust pipe that allowed the odourless gas to leak inside the vessel.

Constable Douglas Earl Ferguson’s remains were returned to his mother where he was buried in his hometown of Brockville Ontario.

1961 – Honour Roll Number 114.

Photograph of the grave marker for Constable Wayne Sinclair (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).

#20958 Constable Wayne Sinclair age 24 died of internal injuries received in a traffic accident near Regina, Saskatchewan

Constable Wayne Sinclair a member of the Regina Highway Patrol was patrolling on his police motorcycle on Highway #6, twenty miles south of Regina. Sinclair had only recently passed the police motorcycle course and was on his fourth patrol on the bike. Traveling in good weather at approximately 45 miles per hour he lost control of the motorcycle when he came to a slight curve in the road and his front tire left the pavement onto the gravel shoulder. Unfortunately he overreacted when he applied the front brakes too hard and somersaulted into the ditch and failing to let go of the handlebars. He received massive internal injuries when the motorcycle crushed his chest when it rolled over on him and he died en-route to the hospital.

Constable Sinclair had only two years service in the Force when he was killed. His remains were returned to his parents in St. Vital Manitoba where he was buried with full honours.

1976 – RCMP Air Division pilot #22499 S/Sgt Karl-Inge G. Gschwind was awarded the Commanding Officers’ Commendation for courage and exceptional capabilities as a result of completing two hazardous landings in CF-MPF during a rescue operation at Foxe Basin on Baffin Island.

1988 – The St John Meritorious Certificate was awarded to RCMP Constable #34752 Gary J. Clarke and Delta Municipal Police Constable Kerslake for saving the life of a automobile accident victim by performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR on the Deas Island Highway at, Delta, BC.

1995 – After 31 days, the armed standoff at Gustafsen Lake, BC ends. The $5.5 million operation was one of the largest such police operations in Canadian history involving the deployment of four hundred tactical assault team members, five helicopters, two surveillance planes and nine armoured personnel carriers (APC) and support from the Canadian Armed Forces.

The conflict was a result of some members of the Shuswap Nation believing that property on a privately owned ranch belonging to the James Cattle Company was unceded land and a sacred space. A few years earlier Faith Keeper Percy Rosette and some other Shuswap elders had a vision that the site was sacred and they approached the ranch owner Lyle James for permission to hold a Sun Dance n his property. He agreed to let them hold ceremonies at the site for four years so long as they did not erect any permanent structures on the property. Instead of honouring the agreement, Rosette and his partner Mary Pena set up a permanent residence on the property and refused to leave. In June 1995 a fence was erected to supposedly keep cattle from the ceremonial area so the group was served an eviction notice while they were preparing for another Sun Dance. In response to the eviction notice an occupier named Splitting the Sky called for an armed defensive stance and press releases were sent out by the occupiers in which they claimed their right to practice their religion on unceded indigenous land. Soon shots were fired and the RCMP was brought in to secure the area.

On August 18, 1995 a native Indian group calling themselves the Ts’peten Defenders believed that a police invasion was imminent and shot at some RCMP Emergency Response Team (ERT) members who were discovered on the property. Throughout the standoff the RCMP conducted negotiations with the leaders of the group and the standoff eventually ended peacefully on September 17 when the remaining occupiers left the site under the guidance of medicine man John Stevens.

Fourteen indigenous and four non-native people were arrested charged following the siege, of which fifteen were found guilty and sentenced to jail terms ranging from six months to eight years.

September 18

1874 – The men of the March West had their first view of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains over 100 miles away from the Sweet Grass Hills of Alberta.

1875 – Canada’s 15th Prime Minister John George Diefenbaker (1895-1979) was born on this day in Neustadt Ontario.

Photograph of Deputy Commissioner Rene Carriere (Source of photo – RCMP Historical Collections Unit – “Depot” Division.

1947 – #10700 / O.439 Rene Carriere received a Commendation for his outstanding work on an investigation involving the Wartime Prices & Trade Board Orders.

1980 – Honour Roll Number 166.

RCMP OFFICERS: Const. Tom Agar (left), killed, and Const. Wayne Hangman, wounded, were victims in shootout at Richmond RCMP stations.

RCMP OFFICERS: Const. Tom Agar (left), killed, and Const. Wayne Hangman, wounded, were victims in shootout at Richmond RCMP stations.

#33580 Constable Thomas James Agar age 26 was killed on duty inside the City Detachment at Richmond, BC.

As a result of injuring his back Constable Tom Agar was assigned to light duties and was working the front counter at the Richmond City Detachment. As he began his shift at 8:00 pm he had no idea that he would be killed ten minutes later. Less than an hour before a local criminal, Steve LeClair had gone on a rampage in a Vancouver bar and murdered three people. LeClair had been drinking in the pub at the Palace Hotel and had been thrown out by the manager. LeClair’s parting words was that he was going to come back with a gun and kill him and at 7:30 pm he did just that. LeClair entered the Vancouver Bar and opened fire killing the bartender, the manager and a 72-year-old woman who happened to stop in for a beer. LeClair then left the bar and hijacked a car and ordered the occupants to drive him to the Richmond RCMP Detachment because he wanted to kill a Cop.

When he arrived at the detachment at 8:10 pm, he let his hostages go and he walked calmly into the detachment office with his .45 caliber revolver stuffed in his waistband under his coat.

Constable Agar went to the front counter to deal with LeClair and asked how he could help. LeCair responded by asking him his name and when he replied “Constable Agar”, Steve LeClair pulled his revolver and said, “How fast can you draw” and shot Agar in the chest.

#35115 Constable Wayne Hanniman was in the nearby radio room heard the shot drew his revolver and rushed out to see LeClair turn to face him and he was shot the shin breaking his leg. Hanniman went down on his knees and fired two rounds one of which hit LeClair in the chest a few inches from his heart. At the same time #22667 Corporal Peter Lucas came onto the scene from another part of the office and pointing his revolver at the wounded gunman ordered him to drop his gun and surrender.

Constable Tom Agar, a native of Montreal, Quebec had only four years service. His wife Joyce was eight months pregnant with their second child when he was murdered. Joyce and their one year old daughter Samantha along with over 1000 people attended his funeral where he was buried with full honours at the Ocean View Cemetery in Burnaby BC.

Steve LeClair was convicted of the multiple murders and sentenced to life imprisonment. Constable Hanniman and Corporal Lucas were awarded Commissioners Commendations for their actions and Letters of Appreciation were presented to municipal employees Sheila Wilson for rendering aid to Constable Hanniman and to Irene Truba for her role in staying calm throughout the incident and dispatching members to key areas during the attack.

1990 – After responding to a complaint of assault at Igloolik, NWT, #33661 Corporal Eric R. Streeter & #35784 Constable John D. J Ennis were shot at shot at by the suspect when they approached the house. While the two policemen negotiated for over four hours with the suicidal suspect, Mrs. Denise Ennis handled the detachment radio and telephones. The suspect eventually surrendered and was safely taken into custody. For their role in successfully apprehending the gunman without incident both policemen were awarded Commissioners Commendations for Bravery and Mrs. Ennis was given a Letter of Appreciation.

2004 – #45370 Constable Craig Andrew Thur MB, Medal of Bravery.

Earlier in the evening police responded to a complaint of a noisy bush party, where nearly 200 youths had been partying at the snow dump near Porter Creek Pond in Whitehorse, Yukon. After the majority of partygoers left the scene, Constable Craig Thur remained to conduct a foot patrol of the area and heard someone calling for help. Constable Thur followed the sound to the edge of the pond where he found a hypothermic 15-year-old boy in the water, barely managing to hang on to the edge. While Thur was pulling the boy out he heard a muffled gurgling sound coming from further out in the pond. Realizing that another person was in trouble Constable Thur scanned the surface of the pond with his flashlight and spotted a second teenager struggling to stay afloat. Thur alerted #29237 Corporal Ken Putnam and had him care for the first boy while he proceeded to wade out into the pond.

Initially he thought the pond was shallow but he soon found himself swimming in deep water being weighted down by his uniform and equipment. Struggling to swim with his flashlight in one hand, while being hampered by submerged tree stumps and hanging branches he kept the 14-year-old boy illuminated until he slipped below the surface. Having witnessed the youth submerge, Constable Thur was able to quickly find the boy’s body and grabbing hold of the victim’s jacket pulled him to the surface. The boy had only been submerged for approximately 30 seconds and immediately began breathing. Thur then towed him back to shore where the boy was transported to hospital by ambulance to join the first who had been taken in a police car.

Had Constable Thur not bothered to remain at the scene and do a follow-up patrol of the party area, both boys would likely have perished.

For his actions Constable Craig Andrew Thur was awarded Commissioners Commendation and later the Medal of Bravery.

 

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