Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP


Photograph of a unique RCMP crest (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 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

December 3

1978 – Former terrorists Jacques Cossette – Trudell and his wife Micheline Lanctôt return to Quebec from exile in Cuba and France. He and members of his Liberation Cell of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) had kidnapped British Trade Minister James Cross from his Montreal home on October 5, 1970. When the location of Cossette-Trudel’s hideout was discovered by the police, they negotiated his release that included the publication of the FLQ’ political manifesto, a demand for the release of 27 convicted FLQ militants and the safe passage to Cuba for he and his wife and four other terrorists.

Cossette-Trudel and his wife stayed in Cuba for four years before seeking asylum in France. In 1977, then Quebec Premier Rene Levesque stated that he was seeking a pardon for the pair. On this day, exactly eight years after the release of James Cross and their flight from justice to Cuba, the two terrorists retuned to Canada. They plead guilty to charges of kidnapping and attempted extortion on December 13th 1978, and were sentenced to five years’ probation and two years in jail. After serving only eight months of their sentence they were released on parole!

 2003 – #44673 Constable James Shields awarded a St. John Ambulance Lifesaving Award for saving the life of a boy who had fallen through ice at Mineville, N.S.  A civilian had pulled the child out of the icy water and upon his arrival at the scene Cst. Shields performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

December 4

 1900 – Constable #370 Alexander MacKenzie who served from 1879 to 1900 and was invalided was granted pension by Order in Council of 33¢ per day.

1946 – Honour Roll Number 84.

Photograph of Constable Wilfred James Cobble (Reg.#12983).

 #12983 Constable Wilfred James Cobble died of injuries he received, when he was struck by a truck on the highway, at Lavoy, Alberta.

 At approximately 7:00 pm on December 3rd Constable Cobble #10729 Corporal Augustus A. Cantrill were driving back to Vegreville from Inisfree when they found a truck loaded with coal parked on the side of Highway 16 without any lights on. They located the driver and returned him to the scene and instructed him to either repair the vehicle or tow it away.  While Cantrill waited in the police car Constable Cobble went to the front of the truck to write down the licence number. While he was writing his notes Cantrill observed a truck coming towards them and flicked lights to warn the approaching vehicle. The truck drove past the car and then slammed into the coal truck. Constable Cobble was propelled to the shoulder of the road and was found unconscious suffering from a fractured skull. With the help of a civilian who stopped at the scene Cantrill loaded his partner into the back of the police car and rushed him to the hospital in Vegreville. While the medical staff attended to the policeman Cobbles wife Kathleen was rushed to the hospital. He died with her by is side at 4:00 am the following morning.

Wilfred James Cobble had a varied career in the RCMP. He had served on the musical ride and been a dog handler. He was buried at the Riverside Cemetery in Vegreville Alberta.

1973 – The Trudeau government passes a bill outlawing wiretapping and other forms of electronic surveillance except by police forces.

December 5

1966 – Former Staff Sergeant #11110 James Herbert Bilton is elected Speaker of the House in the 28th Manitoba Legislature. Born at Leeds, Yorkshire England, Bilton joined the RCMP in 1931 and retired 22 years later. He was elected as the Progressive Conservative MLA for the Swan River Riding in 1960 and was the editor/publisher of the Swan River Star and Times newspaper.

1970 – British Trade Commissioner James Cross returns to London after two days of debriefing following his release by FLQ terrorists.

1975 – #28450 Constable Anthony “Tony” Williams was making an evening foot patrol in Kamsack Saskatchewan when he saw a man inside the hardware store loading a rifle. The suspect had gained entry to the store via the building skylight so Constable Williams kicked in the plate glass door and at gunpoint ordered the man to drop the loaded rifle. Taken by surprise the thief complied and was arrested. For his bravery and initiative Williams was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation.

December 6

1926 – Honour Roll Number 48.

Photograph of Constable Rhodes

Photograph of ConstableFrederick Rhodes (Reg.#9951) (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).

#9951 Constable Frederick Rhodes age 23 died from injuries he received, when the police detachment at Fort Rae, N.W.T., burned to the ground.

At approximately 08:00 am Corporal #4290 Hubert Thorne heard a series of explosions come from the men’s quarters at the Fort Rae Detachment. Rushing outside he saw smoke billowing out the door and he ran to get a fire extinguisher. When he rushed over to the quarters he found Constable Rhodes lying face down in the snow badly burnt from the waist up. Standing beside him dressed in his burnt underwear was #9444 Constable Francis Armstrong. As the building burned to the ground Thorne and Armstrong carried Rhodes to the Corporals quarters and sent for the local priest to help dress his injuries. As they tended to his badly burned body, Corporal Thorne was able to piece together a statement as to what had happened. Constable Rhodes had gotten up and thinking that the fire in the stove had gone out, he grabbed a can of gasoline from the porch and poured some on the embers. The fire was still active and it burned up to the gas can and exploded in his hands and onto his body. Rhodes then attempted to fight the fire with a fire extinguisher and was found unconscious when Constable Armstrong fought his way through the flames to him.

Constable Rhodes burns were so severe that he died shortly thereafter and was buried locally. Fort Rae was located on the northernmost arm of Great Slave Lake and was one of the most isolated posts at the time. The report that Corporal Thorne prepared had to be carried over 400 miles on foot to Fort Smith where it could be telegraphed to Ottawa.

Frederick Rhodes had been in the RNWMP for three years and he was engaged to Miss Nellie Haigh of Yorkshire England.

1933 – The RCMP patrol Cruiser No.4 observed the schooner “Kromhout” eight miles off of Cape Breton Island. When they hailed the Kromhout she refused to stop and headed out into the North Atlantic. The patrol boat pursued her to 30 miles off shore and succeeded in boarding her and placing the ship under arrest. When she was searched she was found to loaded with 5000 gallons of illicit liquor. The seizure of the Kromhout was one of the largest in the Forces battle against rumrunners and played a significant role in disrupting the illegal rum trade off of Nova Scotia.

1975 – Fredericton New Brunswick Highway Patrol Constable #25366 Eric J. Suley was driving home after his shift when he smelled smoke. When he stopped to investigate he discovered that a building was on fire. After calling for the Fire Department he rushed into the smoke filled building and met a woman in the lobby and advised her to get out and then he ran up the stairs yelling “Fire” He was forced out of the building by the heavy smoke and learned that another woman with a child were still in the building on the second floor. Suley then ran back into the building and followed the sound of a child crying to the mother who was clutching the child frozen in panic. Constable Suley then took the woman by the arm and led her and the child out of the build to safety. When the fire department arrived shortly afterward they could not enter the building due to the intense heat and smoke. Constable Suley and the two women and the child had to be taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. For his bravery and presence of mind in saving three lives, Eric J. Suley was awarded a Testimonial Parchment for Heroism from the Royal Canadian Humane Society.

Photograph of RCMP Inspector Amrik Virk.

Photograph of RCMP Inspector Amrik Virk.

1991 – #39813 / O. 2019 Constable Amirik Singh Virk rushed into the Red Deer River near Red Deer Alberta and rescued a woman from drowning. For his efforts he was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for Bravery. In 2013 Inspector Virk retired from the RCMP and was elected as a member of the British Columbia Legislature and was appointed the Minister of Education in the Christy Clark government.

2006 – Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, COM became the first commissioner in the history of the RCMP to be forced out because of controversy. Resigning as the 20th Commissioner of the RCMP he submitted his resignation effective December 15, 2006 to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

December 7

1890 – A little over a year from when he was dismissed from the Force for “drunkenness and sentenced to three months hard labour. #1898 Constable James Cassidy accidentally drowned near Fort MacLeod.

1941 – The day of infamy.

The Japanese Imperial Navy attacks the naval base at Pearl Harbor Hawaii at dawn. This unprovoked attack brings the United States into WWII.

As a result the government of Canada reacts quickly and within hours the RCMP round up several suspected subversives. The next the day the Navy impounds 1200 boats in the Japanese Canadian fishing fleet. Eventually fear, paranoia and American pressure results in thousands of Japanese Canadian citizens being rounded up, their property is seized and they are interred in camps in the BC interior.

1969 – At 04:15 am #25361 Constable Thomas L. Johnson responded to house fire at Manitou Beach near Watrous, Saskatchewan and learned that there were two elderly people inside. After obtaining a breathing apparatus he tied a rope around his waist and climbed up on the roof of the garage and entered the burning house through a second story widow. Feeling around in the smoke and flames he found the body of 59-year old Mrs. Mina Dragu sprawled on a bed and dragged her over to the window where he passed her outside to other rescuers. When he attempted to continue the search he was forced to flee the house because of the intense heat and smoke. The remains of the first victims husband John was found several hours later after the fire was extinguished. His bravery in the attempted rescue was recognized when he was awarded a Commissioners Commendation and a cheque for $100.

December 8

Photograph of Chief Big Bear.

Photograph of Chief Big Bear.

1882 – Cree/Saulteaux leader Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear) 1825-1888 finally signs Treaty #6 six years after the rest of his tribe. He grudgingly signed because his people were starving because all of the buffalo had been hunted to near extinction. Because he had not singed the Treaty his 114 remaining followers were ineligible for government rations, and were living in cloth and stick tents.

1934 – The crew of the Patrol Vessel “Preventor” is awarded a Commendation to for their role in salvaging a crashed seaplane.

1943 – #13068 Sergeant Cecil L. Ray was wounded in action at San Appolinairi, Italy while serving as a Lieutenant with the Provost Corps. Ray joined the RCMP in 1937 and returned to the Force after serving in WWII from1939 to 1946. He retired to pension in 1963.

1973 – After a mentally disturbed youth with a shotgun locked himself in his house with his sister and threatened to kill her and his parents when they returned home. Members of the Stewiacke, Nova Scotia Detachment then surrounded the house and a tense standoff began. It was alleviated when Menzie Stewart, a friend of the gunman phoned him and gained sufficient trust to allow him to enter and take his sister out of the house. When the man found himself alone he called the detachment and requested that a policeman come inside to speak with him. #26504 Constable Gordon D. Goldsworthy volunteered and went inside but the gunman changed his mind and at gunpoint ordered the constable to get out. Remaining calm, Constable Goldsworthy spoke with the young man and eventually convinced him to drop the weapon and surrender. In recognition of their bravery Menzie Stewart and Constable Goldsworthy were awarded Commanding Officers Commendations.

1984 – Star of Courage, #36355 Constable Laurier Roland Cadieux. SC.

Photograph of Constable Laurier Cadieux

Photograph of Constable Laurier Cadieux

Around 11:00 pm, Constable Cadieux was off duty having a meal at the Keg Restaurant in Langley, British Columbia, when he heard two shotgun blasts. When he investigated he found a woman brandishing a revolver in the midst of an armed robbery. He quickly overpowered and disarmed her, and then heard another gunshot, turned and saw a man holding a sawed-off shotgun fleeing up a flight of stairs. He then discovered that the revolver he had seized from the female assailant was defective but chased after the other gunman anyway and confronted him. Identifying himself as a policeman, and bluffing him with the defective handgun Constable Cadieux convinced the culprit to drop his weapon. Initially the man complied, but when he realized he had been bluffed, he lunged at Cadieux and a struggle ensued. With the help of restaurant staff and patrons, the gunman was subdued. While this was occurring the woman was rescued by a third accomplice and they fled from the scene. Shortly thereafter the Police arrived and took the gunman into custody and the two others, along with a fourth accomplice, were later arrested and charged.

On June 26, 1987 Constable Laurier Roland Cadieux was awarded Canada’s second highest civilian award for bravery, the Star of Courage.

December 9

1878 – #O.35 Surgeon Robert Miller along with Constables, #293 William Robertson, #294 William Ramsay, #299 John Wymerskirk, #301 Harry Keenan, #302 Joseph Hanafin, #307 William Davis, #308 Harry Walker, and #355 William Latimer opened the first detachment at Prince Albert Saskatchewan.

1938 – In recognition of his excellent work on murder investigation in Saskatchewan, #12838 Constable William McKayseff received a commendation.

1969 – Constable Stephen William Hryciuk responded to a complaint that a deranged man was threatening a woman with a knife in downtown North Vancouver. When he arrived on scene and found the man walking down the street with his two small children. When Hryciuk approached the man, he began running and then suddenly grabbed his daughter and holding a knife to her throat told the policeman to leave him alone. As he attempted to reason with the man and move closer to him, Constable Franciscus A.E.M. Naaykens arrived on scene and momentarily distracted him. Taking advantage of the distraction Constable Hryciuk pounced on the assailant grabbing for the knife. A struggle ensued in which he received superficial knife wounds to his hand but with the assistance of Constable Naaykens they succeeded in subduing the man. Constable Hryciuk was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation.

1989 – Honour Roll numbers 214 and 215.

Photograph of Constable Nancy M. Puttkemery (Reg.#33112)

Photograph of Constable Nancy M. Puttkemery (Reg.#33112)

Photograph of

Photograph of Special Constable Vincent Norman Timms.


Pilot #S/3367 (**formerly #33112) Special Constable Nancy Marie Puttkemery age 34 and #S/1969 Special Constable Vincent Norman Timms were stationed in Edmonton Alberta at the time of their deaths. They were working in an aerial surveillance project and were returning to Edmonton in their Cessna 182 after the weather conditions began to deteriorate. Due to the limited visibility and heavy blowing snow, S/Cst. Puttkemery decided to return to Calgary and land there. As she made a left turn at low altitude, the left wing of her plane struck a wire on the Cantel Radio Tower near Crossfield, Alberta. The plane plummeted to the ground and was completely demolished and both officers were killed on impact.

**Nancy Puttkemery was born in Beloit Wisconsin and had originally joined the RCMP as a civilian member in 1975 and later that year converted to a regular member. In November 1986 she was transferred to Air Division and as a pilot converted to a Special Constable. (For specialty pay scale reasons pilot’s earned higher rates of pay than various ranks)

Vincent Norman Timms was a native of East Ham, England and joined the RCMP “Special O” surveillance section in 1978.