Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP

Photograph of an RCMP Officer's Shamrock - provided by Veteran Donald Klancher.




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

April 16

1966 – The Meritorious Certificate from Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem was awarded to #22363 Constable Richard McCarthy for saving the life of a woman at Nanaimo, B.C. by performing mouth to mouth resuscitation for two hours.

1977 – While investigating a complaint involving the possession of a stolen vehicle, #24541 Constable Thomas William Semmens found himself on the wrong end of a rifle.

Semmens had driven into the suspects’ driveway on the Fishing Lake Indian Reserve near Waddena, Saskatchewan. Upon his arrival he discovered that an intoxicated youth had been threatening to shoot several people when the suspect came out of his house and aimed a loaded rifle at him. Pulling his revolver from his holster and taking cover behind his police car, the constable ordered the man to drop his weapon. The gunman responded by ratcheting the rifles bolt and threatening to kill him. Remaining calm, Constable Semmens ordered the man to drop his weapon or he would shoot. The suspect finally complied and was taken into custody. In recognition of his calmness and perseverance Constable Semmens was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation.

April 17

1885 – After the massacre at Frog Lake on April 2nd Chief Mistahimaskwa “Big Bear” voice of peace and reason fell on deaf ears and the 200 warriors led by War Chief “Wandering Spirit” decided to continue the violence and rid the land of the white man. On April 14th 250 Indians arrived on the ridge above the fort and then they rounded up the cattle and shot several and proceed to feast on them. Later in the day a note was sent to the Hudson Bay Chief Factor W.J. McLean requesting that he meet with a delegation of chiefs. He went out to meet them and was informed that Big Bear wanted to meet with him the next day. While meeting with the Council of Chiefs the meeting was disrupted by a report that the “Red Coats” were attacking. It was in fact the scouting patrol sent out to find the main encampment. After chasing the three-man patrol back to Fort Pitt and killing Cst. Cowan, the war party demanded the surrender of the fort.

Fort Pitt had been built as a Hudson’s Bay trading post on flat land with wooded hills all around it and was nearly impossible to defend. The officer in charge of the fort was Inspector Francis Dickens the ill-fated third son of novelist Charles Dickens. Over the objections of Wandering Spirit W.J. McLean who was also the Justice of the Peace for the North West Territories, negotiated a deal with Chief Big Bear wherein the policemen would leave the fort unmolested and the 44 civilian inhabitants would be taken prisoner by the Cree.

1884 – Photograph of NWMP Inspector Francis Dickens – taken at Fort Pitt (Source of photo – RCMP Historical Collections Unit – “Depot” Division). 

Completely surrounded and outnumbered 5-1, Inspector Dickens capitulated and led his men on a six-day journey by barge down the North Saskatchewan River to Battleford. After the police left the fort, the Cree warriors cleaned out the stores and burned the fort. The civilians were treated well by the Cree and the lives of the police were spared by the intervention of Big Bear. Inspector Dickens life and career was one clouded by a reputation of heavy drinking, laziness and poor judgment. He was medically discharged in 1886 due to increasing deafness and as fate would have it he died in Moline, Illinois on June, 11, 1886 of a heart attack the night before he was to start a speaking tour in the United States.

The twenty men Inspector Dickens led back to Battleford were #1083 S/Sgt J Widmer Rolph #41 Sgt John Alfred Martin #565 Cpl Ralph Bateman Sleigh, Constables #615 William Anderson #858 Henry Thomas Ayre #515 James W Carroll #661 Herbert A Edmonds #538 Robert Hobbs #695 Robert Ince. #707 Ferriol Leduc #822 George Lionais #925 Clarence McLean Loasby #737 John A Macdonald #739 Laurence O’Keefe #748 Charles T Phillips #751 Joseph Quigley #865 Brenton Haliburton Robertson #381 Frederick Cochrane Roby #604 George W Rowley #762 Richard Rutledge #866 Walter William Smith #781 John W Tector #942 Falkland Fritz-Mauritz Warren.

1993 – Mountie is “mention in dispatches

Photograph of Constable Raymond Watson (Reg.#33249).

While he was serving with the United Nations as a Police Monitor for the United Nations Protection Force Civilian Police at the Sarajevo Airport in Bosnia-Hercegovina, #33249 Constable Raymond Watson safely evacuated the crew of an aircraft that was under sniper fire.

The official report stated “On April 17, 1993, an immobile aircraft was hit by sniper fire, spilling fuel from its tanks. Realizing the dangers posed by the escaping fuel and the surrounding sniper fire, Constable Watson, along with foreign monitors, alerted the aircraft Commander and safely evacuated the crew and passengers. His selfless actions averted a potential disaster.

April 18

1885 – During the Northwest Rebellion #O.44 Supt Aylesworth Bowen Perry who later became the Commissioner, led twenty men with a nine pound field gun to Edmonton to join General Strange’s Force. They reached Calgary in three days having traveled 105 miles, (170 kilometers) then endured seven days of very bad weather en route to Red Deer. There they constructed a raft and used 400 yards (365 meters) of picket ropes to cross the river. As they were crossing the river the raft, loaded with the field gun, broke free. Superintendent Perry and #910 Constable Herbert Diamond swam to shore to secure the ropes thereby saving the field gun. After the raft was finally secured they had to cut a through the bush as they continued on to Edmonton. The trip was accomplished in only 13 days that included almost 4 days to cross the river at Red Deer.

1935 – Columbia Pictures releases the 58-minute movie “Fighting Shadows”.

The movie starring Tim McCoy as Constable Tim O’Hara is sent to Indian River to investigate a fur-trading racket wherein the local trappers are being intimidated into practically giving away their furs, instead of selling them to the Hudson Bay Company. Our hero finds himself in trouble accused of shooting a prisoner in the back and is jailed by a fellow Mountie until a former enemy; Brad Harrison (Ward Bond) arrives and clears his name.

Photograph of the Angler POW Camp in Ontario.

1941 – The largest prisoner of war escape in Canadian history occurred. The Angler POW Camp near Neys Provincial Park on the north shore of Lake Superior in Ontario held numerous German POW’s. After secretly digging a 45 m (150 ft.) long tunnel, 80 prisoners attempted to make their escape. Only 28 men mangaged to make it outside the camp’s walls before the escape was interrupted. The military quicly found five of the men  sleeping in a railroad car and were shot. Four others escapees managed to hide in a boxcar of a freight train, but were arrested by RCMP members who were riding on board the same train. All of the remaining esacaped prisoners were eventually recaptured, btu the two who managed to make it the furtherst away from the camp was Horst Liebeck and Karl Heinz-Grund, who had boarded a westbound freight train and made it as far as  Medicine Hat, Alberta, before being captured and returned to the Angler camp.

1969 – #21290 Constable Helgi Sigurdur “Tommy” Tomasson age 30 was killed in a traffic accident near Sheho, Saskatchewan. He was on routine patrol from his Yorkton Detachment when his police car rammed into the back of a tractor.

 Born in Winnipeg Manitoba, he joined the RCMP in 1960 and spent all of his service in “F” Division. He was survived by his wife Paulette Sophia Kramer and his two year old daughter Kimberly Dawn.

On September 21, 1969 a memorial plaque in his memory was dedicated at the RCMP Chapel at Depot. He is not on the RCMP Honour Roll

1981 – When fire broke out at a residence in Whitehorse Yukon, Corporals Laurie Tubbs and #27071 Gordon Crowe along with Mrs. Karen Crowe risked their lives assisting several elderly people form the burning building. All thee were later awarded Commanding Officers Commendations.

1982 – The Constitution Act comes into effect as Canada’s new Constitution. The Act was proclaimed the previous day by Queen Elizabeth II in a ceremony on Parliament Hill. The Act ends British authority in Canada and replaces British North America Act with Canada remaining a constitutional monarchy and member of the Commonwealth.. It incorporates a new Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

April 19

1931 – Honour Roll Number 50 and 200.

Photograph of Constable Donald Ross McDonnell (Reg.#10399).

#10399 Cst. Donald Ross Macdonell age 22 and S/822 Special Cst. Norman Massan drowned near the mouth of Fourteen River, Hudson Bay while on patrol.

 The two men had been on a dog sled patrol that had taken them from their detachment in Port Nelson, Manitoba to Fort Seven, Ontario. On the return trip, the men made camp on a small island near the mouth the Fourteen River. The weather had been warming rapidly and that night a sudden thaw caused the Fourteen River to swell and the low island soon had water rushing over the pack ice. When the two policemen woke to the rising water they only had time to wade to shore without any of their supplies or dogs. Neither man made it to shore alive.

 When some of their dogs returned to the detachment several days later, a search party headed by Sgt.# 6737 John Joseph Molloy starting looking for the men. On April 27th, the body of Special Constable Massan was found beneath the ice half way between his camp and shore. The next day Cst. McDonnell’s body was found frozen in the fresh ice five yards from shore.

Cst. Donald Ross Macdonell had a long pedigree of members of the Mounted Police dating back to the North West Mounted Police. He was buried in the Union Cemetery in Edmonton Alberta.

Special Constable Norman Massan finally had his name added to the Honour Roll in 2002. The whereabouts of his gravesite are unknown.

1975 – While posted at Flin Flon, Manitoba #21507 Franklin G. Chappel responded to a complaint involving a youth who had chased his parents from their home with rifle. Chappel went to the house and while the youth pointed the rifle at him he spoke to the gunman for several minutes and eventually convinced him to put the weapon down and surrender. Constable Chapple was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation. He served from 1960 to 1992 when he retired a Staff Sergeant.

April 20

1905 – The Royal Humane Society Silver Medal of Bravery was awarded to #3982 Constable Peter Glacken for saving the life of a fellow member. He and #4049 Constable James Edwards were in the process of rescuing several people who became trapped when the Wascana Creek in Regina Saskatchewan flooded its banks. Constable Edwards had fallen in the swollen creek and would have drowned if not for the efforts of Constable Glashen.

1935 – Ambassador Pictures releases “The Red Blood of Courage“.

Image extract from the movie “The Red Blood of Courage.”

The 55 minute movie starring Kermit Maynard as a Mountie Jim Sullivan who goes undercover as a fugitive from justice to capture an outlaw and his partner who killed his friend. During the search he rescues a beautiful woman (Ann Sheridan) whose uncle is being held for ransom on his ranch where the villain is masquerading as the owner of the property.  Check out this short movie here.

1945 – The Kings Police Medal for Gallantry was awarded to #10288 Corporal Joseph William Pooke for his attempts to save a child from fire in Athabasca, Alberta. Pooke entered the burning building and despite the flames, carried the child out to safety. Unfortunately the child died shortly thereafter from severe burns.

1966 – Honour Roll Number 132.

Photograph of Constable John Francis Tidman (Reg.#24014) (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite Database).

#24014 Constable Philip John Francis Tidman age 22 was killed in a police car accident, near Wakaw, Saskatchewan.Constable Tidman had only worked in the field for four months when he and Special Constable Richard Dubkowski were tasked with transporting a prisoner from Wakaw to Saskatoon. As he drove down Highway #2 he encountered a Ford truck traveling towards them hugging the centerline. Just before the vehicles met the truck swerved into the opposite lane and collided with Tidman’s car. The car spun out of control and came to rest in the ditch, Constable Tidman was killed instantly.

Special Constable Dubkowski and the prisoner were riding in the back seat survived with only minor injuries. The driver of the truck was never charged.At the families request Constable Philip Tidman’s remains were cremated and the ashes were sent home to his parents in Ottawa Ontario.

April 21

1920 – #7600 Constable James Smith was cited for meritorious service during a fire at the Fairmont RCMP Barracks in Vancouver, B.C.

1981– Janet Potts the great-great granddaughter of the NWMP most famous Scout, Gerry Potts is sworn in as a member of the RCMP. Following in the footsteps of her father Henry Potts, who became a member of the Force in 1978; Special Constable Janet Potts was posted to Pincher Creek Alberta.

1983 – Commendations were issued to #23001 Sergeant James W. Somers and #29442 Constable R.E. Steele after they responded to a complaint involving an armed man in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. The man pointing a rifle at them confronted the pair in their police car. Constable Steele was able to draw his revolver and exit the car, and then both members negotiated the suspect’s surrender.

1985 – The actions #37855 Constable Kenneth Alderson and Mr. Ray Mason of Libau Manitoba on this day resulted in the awarding of a Meritorious Certificate and an Award of Merit from Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. Kateryna Danko nearly died when her car overturned and pinned her underneath. Ray Mason used his tow truck to lift the car so Constable Alderson could crawl inside and pull her out of the vehicle. Once they were free of the vehicle Alderson succeeded in reviving Danko using cardio pulmonary resuscitation.

April 22

1926 – The far reaches of the north have seen some extraordinary men; included in this select group was one notable adventurer policemen #4919 / O.221 Inspector Alfred Herbert Joy left his home in Bedfordshire England and joined the Royal North West Mounted Police in 1909 and served until 1932 when he died while still serving as a member of the RCMP. A noted Arctic explorer, Joy rose through the ranks quickly (Cpl. 1912, Sgt. 1916, S/Sgt. 1921 and Commissioned in 1927).

In 1920, Sergeant Joy accompanied by #O.173 Inspector J. W. Phillips conducted a lengthy patrol of the Belcher Islands (southeast Hudson Bay) on a murder investigation.

1920 – Photograph of RCMP Sergeant Alfred Herbert Joy *(Reg.#4919) with several eskimo men.

On this date in 1926, Inspector Joy with #10119 Corporal Robert Garnett and Inuit guide, Nookapeeanguak journeyed by dog sled from Craig Harbour to Grethasoer Bay and Exel Heiberg Island via Jones Sound and the west coast of Ellesmere Island, returning on May 26 1926 after traveling a distance of 975 miles (1,570 kilometers).

In 1927, he opened the first detachment at Bache Peninsula.

In 1929, with #10303 Sergeant Reginald Taggart and an Inuit guide patrolled the Sverdrup Islands from Dundas Harbour to Bache Peninsula, a distance of 1,700 miles (2,735 kilometers) in 81 days. On this trip he and the others had the harrowing experience of being attacked by a polar bear that had been tracking them and clawed its way into their igloo in the middle of the night.

Tragically Joy died of a stroke at the age of only 43 while in Ottawa on the day he was to be married to Miss Carmel Murphy. Speculation has been raised that he committed suicide because he knew that getting married would mean that he would never return to the arctic. No proof of the allegation has ever been provided and is unlikely. A man of Joy’s character and bravery would hardly be afraid to call off a wedding. Carmel Murphy buried Alfred Joy in her family plot in Ottawa and she never married.

1940 – Commendation awarded to #12838 William McKayseff for his work on a Break, Enter and Theft case in Manitoba.

1941 – Commendation issued to #11211 Edward Sinnema for the rescue of man trapped on the ice in St Lawrence River at the St Regis Reservation.

1942 – #13485 Don Carrothers, #12030 Paul Clearwater, #12413 Don Bliss, #13309 John Nightingale, #10831 Richard Holmes and #133128 George Crawford became part of the 6th reinforcement draft to Canadian Provost Corps in WWII.

1961 – Honour Roll Number 101.

Photograph of Constable Ronald A. Ekstrom (Reg.#20366).

#20366 Constable Ronald Arthur Ekstrom age 22 was killed in an on duty traffic accident near Lytton, BC.

Constable Ron Ekstom had only been in the Mounted Police for three years when he had taken a friend on a “ride-along”. Around 9:00 pm they were driving south on highway #12 when they noted a car parked on the side of the road. While Cst. Ekstrom was checking the vehicle over he noted another car coming towards him at a high rate of speed. When the driver failed to stop, Cst. Ekstrom chased after him in his police car.

As they raced towards Lytton at speeds in excess of 85 miles per hour, he radioed ahead and requested a roadblock be set up. As he sped down the highway he encountered a vehicle pulling out of the local drive in theatre. When he tried to go around it he lost control of his car and skidded down the highway and went over the embankment and smashed into a tree some 200-yard down the slope. Cst Eckstrom was killed instantly but his passenger survived.

The suspect vehicle that he was pursing crashed shortly afterwards and the driver, Charles Alexander Harrington of Vancouver fled the scene on foot. He was later arrested at his home and convicted of criminal negligence. Constable Eckstrom’s body was returned to his family in Lethbridge Alberta where he was buried at the Mount Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

1977 – The Meritorious Certificate from Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem was awarded to #33144 Constable Karen J. Hilland for performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on child who had fallen into well near Nisku, Alberta. Her efforts were successful in saving the life of Holly Ferguson.

1979 – On Sunday night, April 22, 1979, 25-year old #33612 Constable John Buis and his partner #29925 Cst. Jack Robinson were in plainclothes patrolling the area around Kingsway and Gilley in Burnaby British Columbia. At 8:30 p.m they encountered a white Lincoln Continental with Texas licence plates speeding east down Kingsway. When they pulled the car they discovered that there were seven people aboard.

19-year-old Patricia Bennett, and Gustave Gyulay age 25 accompanied the driver, 28-year old David Barnes, in the front seat.

Before the officers could approach the vehicle, Barnes got out of the car and walked back to them with the vehicle registration, but not his licence, which he claimed had been stolen in Washington State.

Photograph of S/S/M John Buis.

Cst. Buis’ attention was then drawn to Gustave Gyulay, who appeared to be very nervous. Buis asked Gyulay to step out of the vehicle whereupon Gyulay stated that he had been just released from prison and was on mandatory supervision.

#27726 Cst. Merv Korolek then joined the proceedings as a backup unit and was asking for identification from the remaining members in the car, while Cst. Buis went back to the patrol vehicle to check the identification of Barnes and Gyulay. While the officers were gathering identification nobody saw Gyulay reach into the front seat of the Lincoln and remove a sawed-off shotgun and hide in the back of his pants, underneath his jacket.

While Cst. Korolek searched the rest of the vehicle, he found ammunition and a riflescope inside the car. Barnes was then ordered to open the trunk of the car, where a sawed-off rifle in a plastic bag was discovered.

After Buis queried the vehicle and the suspects, he was advised that the vehicle was stolen. When John Buis attempted to advise Cst. Robinson what he had discovered, Gyulay, who was standing on the sidewalk, drew the shotgun from behind his back and shot him.

Buis was hit with shotgun pellets in his inner thigh, and both Robinson and Barnes were also hit with pellets. When Buis fell to the ground Robinson grabbed his revolver and fired, a shot at Gyulay, and Korolek fired multiple shots as well.

A second shot from the shotgun, missed the officers so Gyulay threw the shotgun on the street, and two rounds fired by Cst. Robinson hit him in the right knee and left ankle. Although he had been wounded Gyulay was able to rush to the body of Cst. Buis who was laying on the roadway, grab the constables gun and place it to the back of Buis’ head and threaten to kill him if the officers didn’t drop their guns.

In recollection John Buis stated: “I remember him taking my gun from me, but I was pretty out of it at that moment.” “When he pulled the hammer back on my gun, I was wide awake.”

It’s not something you can describe because everything in your life does flash before you,” he said. “I thought about my wife, my parents, my brothers, the important things in my life.”

By then, several other Burnaby RCMP members had arrived on the scene and succeeded in talking Gyulay out of doing anything more rash. Then he threatened to commit suicide, but, after a short negotiation, Gyulay was convinced to give himself up. Constable Buis was then rushed to hospital and Gustave Gyulay taken into custody.

Thank God I’m tall because I was shot in the thigh,” said Buis. “If I were any shorter, the shots would’ve killed me.

All three constables were awarded a Commanding Officers letter of Appreciation for their actions. Gustav Steve Gyulay died in 2008.