Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP


1897 - Photograph of Sergeant Walter Wrixton de Rossiter (Source of photo - RCMP Historical Collections Unit - "Depot" Division).



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 25

1874 – #247 Sub Constables Frank Baxter and #228 Thomas D. Wilson were granted leave for Christmas and were traveling by horseback back to Fort MacLeod from Fort Kipp. Both men had celebrated the season in style and had consumed their share of beverages were on their way back to their post when they were caught in a sudden blizzard and the temperature dropped. The severely frost bitten men struggled on and in hopes of finding shelter but did not make it. A search party found them and transported them to the hospital at Fort MacLeod but they died on New Years day and were buried at Fort MacLeod.

1906 – #4205 Constable Charles Hayter was charged in Orderly Room because shot the barrack room clock at Battleford Detachment. He was fined $10 and ordered to pay for new clock. When asked for explanation of his actions, is alleged to have said “just killing time, Sir.”
Hayter served from 1904 to 1912 retiring as a Sergeant.

1934 – #10711 Constable Alexander Unia lost all his effects in detachment fire at Forty Mile, Yukon.

1935 – #12745 Constable Paul Dessureau won the 30th Annual Calgary Road Race completing of 6.147 mile run in a time of 35 minutes, 57 seconds.

1997 – #42007 Constable Gerald Fortis of the Sumas Highway Patrol was on duty in Chilliwack, BC and had arranged to travel home to begin his break so he could watch his three young children open their presents. En-route in his patrol car, he encountered a patch of black ice and skidded off the highway and smashed into a cement barrier. His seat belt and the airbag were not enough to protect him because of the angle of the impact. He died from multiple injuries. His Funeral in Chilliwack was one of the largest the town had ever seen.
He survived by his wife and 3 children. Sadly he is not on the Honour Roll!

December 26

1901 – Honour Roll #24 & #25


While on patrol from northern British Columbia three constables were paddling their canoe down the Stikine River in Alaska. The canoe was loaded with all of their personal gear and their sled dog. While attempting to paddle the river the boat was swamped and everyone went into the river

Constables #2972 Norman Malcolm Campbell and #3463 Spencer Gilbert Heathcote drowned while #3617 constable Michael J. Fitzgerald escape the raging river to live on.

Norman Campbell was from Brandon Manitoba and had joining the Force seven years earlier. His body was never recovered.

30-year old Spencer Heathcote joined the Mounted Police on January 1, 1900. Originally from England he was raised in Toronto. His body was found five months later and he was interred in the village of Wrangle, Alaska.

Ironically, Cst. Mike Fitzgerald (Honour Roll 40) the only one to survive continued to serve in the Mounted police for another 12 years until he was killed while working a dragline on a steamer on the White River when he was hit in the head with a sweep handle and knocked overboard. The crew succeed in retrieving his body from the river but he never regained consciousness and died from a fractured skull. The 37-year old son of Nova Scotia was buried in the cemetery in Dawson City, Yukon.

1980 – Winter rain storms on coastal British Columbia can cause rivers to rage and overflow. After several days of rain the Cheakamus River at Squamish spilled over its banks threatening the Geue family home. #32558 Constable Martin A. Thompson attempted to drive through the flood waters to rescue the family, but was unable to reach them so he called for a military Search and Rescue helicopter to assist. When the helicopter arrived Constable Thompson went aboard the helicopter and flying in dangerous winds located the partially submerged house and assisted the crew in rescuing six people from the home. In recognition of his quick thinking and courage he was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for bravery.

December 27

1901 – The first annual winter patrol between Dawson and Fort McPherson was undertaken. #2628 Sgt Harry Mapley and a guide on dog sled carried the mail over the Mackenzie Mountains and arrived at Fort McPherson on February 2, 1905, They traveled a distance of 475 miles and enduring bone chilling temperatures of over 50 degrees below zero. The patrols became an annual event and continued for many years.

1969 – Constables # 24696 J. K. Paterson and R. Lawrence responded to a complaint in North Vancouver BC where an intoxicated man had threatened his wife with a gun. Unknown to the policemen the man had also blown a hole in the wall with a shotgun. After positioning junior Constable Paterson to the side of the house Constable Lawrence approached the front with his revolver drawn. When he knocked the man opened the door to the house and carrying the shotgun in one hand pointed a loaded revolver with his other hand at the chest of Constable Lawrence. Constable # 28762 G. F. Paterson then raised his handgun and ordered the man to drop his weapons. After he hesitated, Patterson then pulled back the hammer on his revolver and repeated his order. Realizing the young policeman was prepared to shoot him the gunman dropped his weapons and surrendered. In recognition of his coolness and presence of mind Constable Paterson was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation.

1980 – The detachment at Old Crow, Yukon caught fire as a result of a faulty hot water heater. #26320 Corporal Don G. Pittendreigh and Constable #34655 Mike S. Statnyk did their best to fight the blaze with fire extinguishers. With the help of local residents they managed to confine the blaze to the furnace room thereby saving the rest of the detachment.

1985 – Honour Roll 183


#37421 Constable Joseph Eddy Mario Tessier was shot and killed near Gatineau, Quebec.

While driving to work in Ottawa from his home in Angers, Quebec dressed in civilian clothing; constable Tessier stopped at a minor motor vehicle and picked up the driver Andre L’Heureux to drive him to a garage. While entoute, L’Heureux pulled out sawed-off .22 and shot Tessier nine times. After the murder he dragged the body out of the car and continued on to Gatineau and robbed store. He was later arrested, and pleaded guilty and was sentence to sentenced to life in prison.

Mario Tessier was born in Joliette Quebec and joined the Force on December 21st and posted to British Colombia (‘E” Division) until he transferred to the nations capitol.

1993 – Constables #32487 / O.1712 Pierre-Yves Bourduas, #32996 Tom Spink and #38116 J.G. Richard earned commendations after they entered a burning house in Kings County New Brunswick to subdue a mentally disturbed person who had barricaded himself in the burning building.

December 28

1943 – Honour Roll Numbers 76, 77, 78, 79.


Constables #13064 Terence Graham Newcomen Watts HR76, #12856 Edison Alexander Cameron HR77, #13157 David Charles Gardner Moon HR78 and #12965 Gordon Bondurant HR 79 were killed in action near Ortona, Italy, while serving with No 1 Provost Company in Italy.

1966 – Commendations were issued to #15036 Corporal Wilf Reinbold and #24344 Constable Robert Swann for arrest of Fritz Riederer who stilled armed with his weapon had just shot his wife, in St Albert, Alberta.

1970 – Police capture the suspect FLQ terrorists, kidnappers and murderers of Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. Paul Rose, his brother Jacques Rose, and Francis were captured at 04:30 am in tunnel under the farmhouse near Montreal they had been hiding out in.

1988 – Commanding Officers Commendations were earned by Constables #31076 W.J. Bussey, #36167 E.P. VanOuwerkerk and #38712 J.G.D. Leydier for disarming a mentally disturbed man at Stettler, Alberta.

December 29

1967 – The Canadian Parliament drops the death penalty for murder, for a five-year trial period. The death penalty remained in for the murder of police and prison guards.

Photograph of RCMP Commissioner

Photograph of RCMP Commissioner Maurice Jean Nadon.

1973 – Maurice Jean Nadon becomes the fifteenth permanent Commissioner of the RCMP after having served as acting commander of the RCMP. He serves until his retirement on August 31, 1977. Under his leadership the Force changed dramatically in ways never before witnessed such as allowing women and married men to enlist.

1976 – While the twin engine Beechcraft airplane he was a passenger in attempted to land in heavy snow on a frozen lake at the Stave lake Airport to it veered off course while and slammed into several trees. Trapped upside down in the burning wreckage Constable G. D. Johnson managed to free himself from his seatbelt and with the help of another passenger they kicked open the door and rescued all of the other passengers. They moved the nine passengers a safe distance from the burning wreckage, and waited in the freezing cold until they were rescued 12 hours later. For his courage and leadership Constable Johnson was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation.

1982 – Corporal #31895 Douglas James Lockhart and Constable #36309 Robert Andre Vinet responded to a motor vehicle accident near Jacquet River New Brunswick and saved the life of the driver who nearly died of hypothermia. Both policemen were awarded Meritorious Certificates from the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.

December 30

Photograph of Winston Churchill and President Frank D.Roosevelt and RCMP member (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

1941 – Winston Spencer Churchill arrives in Ottawa after his talks with President Roosevelt over strategy to win the war with Germany. In his Chateau Laurier studio, Yousef Karsh snaps this famous photo of a scowling Churchill by his cigar from his mouth when he didn’t expect it. In a speech to Parliament that evening, he quips, ‘Hitler thought that England would have her neck wrung like a chicken… Some chicken… some neck.’

1986 – While patrolling in the early morning hours near Thorsby, Alberta, #37469 Constable Ralph Cervi and Auxiliary Constable Ward Hum observed an injured man driving his snowmobile towards them. As he got closer they saw that he was bleeding profusely from his neck. The man had driven his sled into a barbed wire fence and slashed his throat. Seeing the passing police car, the injured man pulled himself off the fence and drove himself to towards the policemen in hopes of being spotted. The men immediately administered First Aid to injured man and then rushed him to the hospital in Leduc. In recognition of their efforts in saving a life, both men were awarded Certificates of Merit from the St. John Ambulance.

1997 – Former Chilliwack, BC Detachment members #29038 Sergeant David Logan and #32570 John Dykstra were found liable for civil damages because they ignored a drunk mans repeated refusal’s to go to hospital. Even though the men tried to convince him to seek medical treatment he refused, later when he finally sought treatment he was found to have depressed skull fracture. Though the policemen did their duty, the court ruled that they should have forced him against his will to seek medical treatment?

December 31

1928 – Honour Roll Number 49.

Photograph of RCMP Sergeant Richard Nicholson

#5611 – Sergeant Richard Henry Nicholson was killed while conducting a search for an illicit still, near Molson, Manitoba.
A month and a half earlier Sgt. Nicholson and Manitoba Provincial Police constable John Watson had searched the home of William Eppinger who lived 4.5 miles north of Molson Manitoba. There they had located and seized an illicit still operation. The search and seizure was uneventful and Mr. Eppinger gave no resistance.

A month later Cst. Watson received a tip that Eppinger was back in business. He contacted Sgt. Nicholson and the pair agreed to meet for breakfast on December 31st and then tend to the illicit still.

Armed with an unloaded 45. Cal. Colt revolver and a Writ of Assistance (a personal search warrant) Sgt. Nicholson and Constable Watson headed to the Eppinger home in the minus 20-degree cold. En-route they noticed dark smoke in a heavily bushed area near the home and the pair separated to investigate. Sgt. Nicholson was the first to see Eppinger and noticed that he had a high power rifle leaned against a tree. Realizing his handgun was unloaded the frantically attempted to dig the bullets out of his pockets. Having been startled by the arrival of the two police officers, Eppinger rushed for his rifle with Sgt. Nicholson racing for it as well. Nicholson was the first to grab the weapon and proceed to hit Eppinger with the butt of the rifle on the head and shoulder. As the two men fought for control of the weapon the rifle discharged and critically wounded Nicholson in the leg. Cst. Waston then rushed to tend to his wounded partner and began applying a tourniquet to the wounded leg as Eppinger fled on foot.

Nicholson was transported back to the Eppinger farm and then Watson had to travel to a neighboring farm to find a telephone to call a doctor from.

Dr. I. S. Dubnov arrived at 12:30 p.m. and found his patient in critical condition, suffering from shock from caused by a foot long gapping wound in the front of the right thigh, about and a smaller wound at the back of his right knee. Despite the doctor’s best attempts to save his patient Sgt. Nicholson passed away at 4:30p.m.

Members of the Manitoba Provincial police captured William Eppinger the next day and he was brought to trial in Winnipeg for first-degree murder. After hearing all of the evidence the Jury was satisfied that there was not enough evidence to support the charge and found him guilty of the lesser crime of Manslaughter. Eppinger was sentenced on March 14th 1929 to serve five years in prison.
Sergeant Nicholson received a full regimental funeral service at the “Depot” Division Chapel and was laid to rest at the “Depot” Division cemetery on January 4, 1929.

Unbelievably the Mounted police sent Nicholson wife Maggie a bill for his uniform and kit. Nearly 50 years later Maggie passed away and is buried beside her husband in Regina.  – You can read details about Richard Nicholson leading us to his death here.

Photograph of the grave maker for Sergeant Richard Nicholson (Reg.# ) at the "Depot" Division cemetery at "Depot" Division in Regina. (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles).

Photograph of the grave maker for Sergeant Richard Nicholson (Reg.#5611) at the “Depot” Division cemetery at “Depot” Division in Regina. (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

1931 – After reports were received from local Louchoux Indians that they had been threatened by a recluse trapper who lived 80 miles south of Aklavik, NWT Detachment commander #9669 Constable Edgar Millen sent Constable #10211 Alfred Wheldon “Buns” King and Special Constable Joseph Bernard on December 26 to investigate. When they arrived at the cabin of Albert Johnson they found smoke coming out of his chimney but he refused to answer the door. The two men then traveled by dog sled 80 miles to Aklavik and reported their findings to the Western Arctic Sub Division commander Inspector #5700 / 0.209 Alexander Neville Eames. He issued them a search warrant and then the pair along with Constable Robert McDowell and Special Constable Lazarus Aittichiulis returned to Johnson’s cabin to execute the warrant. When they arrived on this day Albert Johnson still refused to open answer his door and when Constable King approached the door he was seriously wounded when Albert Johnson shot him with a rifle through the door. The other three policemen returned fire and managed to get their wounded comrade out of harms way and then raced the wounded man as fast as could to the All Saints Mission Hospital back in Aklavik. Fortunately Constable King survived but the events that followed led to the death of Constable Millen and became one of Canada’s greatest manhunts known to the world as the “The Mad Trapper of Rat River” and even spawned a Hollywood Movie starring Lee Marvin. (See January 30, 1932).

1975 – After being called to a family dispute in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, #26497 Constable James H. Hill entered the house with the wife of the suspect. Upon entering he heard the action of a rifle and immediately warned his co-workers and rushed the woman out of the house. Taking cover behind a telephone pole he was confronted by the gunman who had come outside and was aiming the rifle at him. Ordering the man to drop his weapon the constable tried to reason with him. Initially the man refused but when warned again to drop the rifle or he would be shot and killed the man complied and was safely arrested. In recognition of his courage and actions in peacefully effecting the arrest Constable Hill was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation.

1991 – RCMP pilot #29771 Staff Sergeant Brian Dick flying one of the RCMP Turbo Beaver’s with skis, was practicing touch and go landings on the frozen Paul Lake near Kamloops, BC. As he touched down the ice broke apart from the weight of the airplane. The plane was so severely damaged that it could not get airborne. Fortunately for the pilot he survived and reinforced the old saying that any landing you walk away from is a good landing!