Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP

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

February 17th

1915– #6327 Cst Robert Dunn found himself in Orderly Room at Kindersley, Saskatchewan, charged with falsifying an expense receipt of 75 cents. For his crime #4381/O.174 Inspector William Craysfort “Bill” Proby sentenced him to 3 months hard labour and then dismissed him from the Force. 

Ironically Inspector Proby was himself dismissed from the Mounted Police in 1922 and his officer number was reassigned to another officer.
1932– Albert Johnson, ‘the Mad Trapper of Rat River,’ was killed by RCMP in shoot-out after 48-day 240 km manhunt in 40 below weather. Johnson had been charged with killing one Mountie, #9969 Constable Edgar (Newt) Millen (HR51) and wounding #10211 Constable Alfred Weldon ‘Buns’ King. The manhunt was the first ever to be broadcast live on Canadian radio. Albert Johnson was believed to be 31 years of age but was never actually identified. No family member ever came forward to claim the body even though he had over $2000 cash and a quantity of placer gold in his possession. (See January 30, 1932)

1988 – Member of Parliament, The Honourable John Crosbie presented Pilot / Special Constable #43056 / O.1885 Colin N. MacLeod a Commendation from the Canadian Port and Harbour Association and the Certificate of Merit from Department of Transport for his rescue and evacuation of a seriously injured crew member from Motor Vessel “Humber Arm” during blizzard. In addition, Pilot MacLeod was presented the Commanding Officers Commendation for “actions above and beyond the call of duty”.

February 16th

1918– Honour Roll Number 41

#5548 Constable Alexander Lamont age 30, died at Herschel Island, Y.T., from typhoid fever, contracted while nursing the Arctic explorer and anthropologistVilhjalmur Stefansson.

In addition to the isolation and boredom, members in far-flung locations such as Herschel Island were often called upon to provide medical care as best, they could. Scottish born Cst Alexander Lamont joined the Force in 1910 and was posted to Herschel Island, the remote whaling station on the windswept island in the Beaufort Sea. By 1916 he had had enough of life in the Arctic and in August he applied for and received a transfer out of the far north, but two years later he was still waiting to be moved. In January 1918, the highly contagious disease typhoid fever was rampant throughout the western Arctic and many aboriginal people had died from the dreaded disease. 

When the famous Canadian born Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson contracted the disease and was brought to the Mounted Police Detachment for medical care, Cst. Lamont volunteered to care for him. For nearly a month the constable stayed by the explorer’s side doing his best to nurse him back to health and then on February 5, 1918 Lamont contracted typhoid as well. Afterwards both men shared the same sick room while Cst. J. Brockie and a prisoner tended to their needs. Eleven days later Lamont died and was buried in the local Anglican Mission Cemetery. 

After Lamont died, Vilhjalmur Stefansson was moved to Fort Yukon, Alaska where he recovered from the disease and never returned to the Arctic. He lived for another 44 years dying at the ripe old age of 93. Sadly, the young Mountie who gave his life in an effort to nurse him back to health has gone unrecognized by nearly all historians and Stefansson’s biographers, and if this event in the life of this extraordinary man is mentioned at all, it is only as a footnote that he had a serious illness.

1982– Constables #32004 T.J. Hanley and #31404 D.G. Phillips responded to a break and enter into the Hudson’s Bay Company store at Fort Simpson NWT and caught the suspect inside. Instead of surrendering to the police, the man smashed open the firearms display case and armed himself with a 12-gauge shotgun and three high powered rifles and then began shooting at the police. When the shooting began both constables made an attempt to escape from the store, but Constable Phillips found himself trapped in the foyer. Staying as close as possible to his partner Constable Hanley took cover outside while the suspect blasted away. Throughout the ordeal Constable Phillips had the opportunity to shoot the gunman but waited patiently until he could tackle him. After firing over 70 rounds at the two policemen the deranged gunman was overpowered and taken into custody. For their courage, restraint and discretion both constables were awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation.

February 15th

1936– The Whitehorse Detachment barracks was consumed by fire, destroying the building and all its contents. The detachment quarters were all that remained of the original “H” Division buildings that were built in the late 1890’s.

1943– Columbia Pictures releases “Riders of the Northwest Mounted” starring Russell Hayden as “Lucky Kerrigan”.

1946– As a result of information received from Igor Gouzenko, a former clerk at the USSR Embassy in Ottawa, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King tells Parliament about Soviet spy ring activities in Canada. The RCMP investigates and charges are laid against 21 people, and 11 are convicted. The first time Gouzenko tried to report the matter to the RCMP he wasn’t believed and was shown to the door. 

1950– Motion pictures were admitted as evidence for the first time in a Canadian Court. Chief Justice Farris of the British Columbia Supreme Court admitted films as evidence citing that motion pictures as evidence are equivalent to still photos which are used in court to explain the evidence given by witnesses.

1965– After a two-year debate and many proposed designs Canada’s new Maple Leaf flag is unfurled in ceremonies on Parliament Hill.

1978– Honour Roll Number 160.#31641 Constable William Iraneus Seward age 22 was killed in a police car accident at Toronto, Ontario
Members in plain clothes sections are often called upon to follow suspects or rush to scenes to back up other members. Traveling in unmarked cars they either do not have or want the increased visibility a marked police car provides while trying to get through traffic quickly. While working in the Toronto Airport Drug Section Cst. Seward was involved in a head-on collision and was killed instantly when he tried to pass another vehicle while driving eastbound on Steele’s Avenue thereby ending his two and half year career in the RCMP. He was buried in the Resurrection Cemetery at Sydney Forks near his home town of New Waterford, N.S.

February 14th

 1911– Honour Roll Numbers 34, 35, 36, and 37.

Members of the Lost Patrol #2127 S/Cst. Samuel Carter age 42, #2218 Insp. Francis Joseph Fitzgerald age 41, #4582 Cst. George Frances Kinney age 37and #4346 Cst. Richard O’Hara Taylor age 29 died from starvation, exposure and exhaustion, during the ill-fated MacPherson – Dawson patrol.

This ill-fated patrol was doomed from the beginning, because Inspector Francis Fitzgerald had decided that he was going to set a new speed record on the 325-mile dog sled trip and therefore lightened the load by reduced the rations needed to feed the four-member patrol and their 15 dogs. This annual patrol between Fort MacPherson NWT and Dawson City Yukon was a vital link to the outside world for what was known as the most isolated points in Canada, for it was the only time the mail, packages and other documents were delivered to these remote northern locals.

Previously the patrol had run south to north from Dawson City, but Fitzgerald who was the officer in charge of the MacKenzie River Sub-District wanted to travel to Dawson, so he could use their telegraph service.

Francis Fitzgerald qualifications as a northern traveler were impeccable, as he was one of the most experienced and celebrated adventurers in the Force, having served nearly his entire career in the north except when he was granted leave to serve in the Boer War. Fitzgerald chose three men to accompany him on the patrol, two of whom were serving members of the Force; Constables George Kinney and Richard Taylor. The fourth member of the patrol was former Constable Sam Carter who had served in the Force for ten years and was rehired as a guide and made a Special Constable because of his extensive experience in the north and because he had made the journey five years before. Inspector Fitzgerald also hired a Native guide named Esau to guide the party as far as Mountain Cree and then Sam Carter would guide the patrol the rest of the way. The decision to use Sam Carter as the guide would ultimately prove to be a mistake that would cost all of the men their lives.

The men left Fort MacPherson on December 10thwith three sleds pulled by teams of five dogs each and were making good time despite the bitter cold and heavy snow when they were spotted by a group of natives on New Year’s day. Everything was going well for the group who expected to reach Dawson City within 20 days, but then they missed the crucial turn at Forrest Creek. This mistake cost them five days of travel while they searched up and down the Wind River trying to find the correct tributary. On January 17th, the Inspector recorded in his diary that Sam Carter was completely lost and that they were running low on food. The next day the group decided to turn around and head back to Fort MacPherson over 264 miles away. Battling tremendous winds and temperatures ranging between -45 to -65 degrees below zero Fahrenheit they tried to retrace their path over trails that had been covered over with snowdrifts. By February first the men had killed and eaten eight of their dogs. The Native guide Esau had guided the patrol to the Mountain Creek as agreed and was paid for his services and Esau then rejoined his own party and carried on with them to Dawson arriving on February 20thsurprised to learn that the patrol had not arrived ahead of him.

On February 28, 1911 #3193 Cpl. W.J.D. Dempster;led a search party consisting of #4937 Cst. J. F. Fyfe, former Constable F. Turner, and Native guide Charles Stewart to find the overdue men and on March 12th they found one of the patrols overnight camps. Over the next several days the search party found several more camp sites and determined that the patrol had headed back towards Fort MacPherson. On March 21st,they found the bodies of Constables Kinney and Taylor lying side by side. Kinney had frozen to death and Taylor had shot himself with his rifle. 

The following day the search party found the bodies of the other two men ten miles further down the Peel River. They determined that the men had attempted to struggle on to get help for their two comrades and perished themselves only 25 miles from Fort MacPherson. Sam Carter had died first and was found with his arms were crossed over his chest and a handkerchief placed over his face. Inspector Fitzgerald’s frozen body was lying nearby wrapped in a couple of blankets. 

The bodies of all four men were discolored and emaciated from starvation and exposure and the feet of two of the men were swollen to twice their normal size. 

One has to wonder if the 38 pounds of tobacco that was included in their meager supplies had been food instead, whether this could have changed their fate?

The four bodies were transported back to Fort MacPherson where they were buried side-by-side outside of the Anglican Church. The subsequent investigation into the tragedy concluded that their deaths were the result of traveling with insufficient provisions and the failure to use an experienced guide. In 1938 the grave site was cleaned up and the graves were cemented over to make a single tomb with a monument erected to their memory.

The story of the Lost Patrol was covered in detail in 1978 when writer Dick North published his book “The Lost Patrol – The Mounties Yukon Tragedy”.

A more recent book on this subject was published in 2013 titled “Death Wins In The Arctic” by Kerry Karram. Her Grandfather #9959 Andrew D Cruickshank was a member of the Force in the 1920’s and now her son # 59493 Andrew Karram is a member as well.

1959– The Florida newspaper the “St Petersburg Times” published an exciting review of former Constable #3691 Frank Crocker about his criminal catching career as a “Mountie”.  He neglected to mention that he only served from 1900 to 1903 when on February 27thhe deserted from Coutts Detachment.

February 13th

1942– Honour Roll Number 104.#10155 Cst. Albert Joseph Chartrand age 37 died of a heart attack aboard the R.C.M.P. Schooner St. Roch which was frozen in at Pasley Bay, N.W.T.

Many men have worked in the Arctic but there were very few as accomplished in dealing with the rigors of northern life as Constable “Frenchie” Chartrand was. The outdoor adventurer from Ottawa Ontario had joined the RCMP in 1926 when he was 21 and he spent 15 of his 16 years in the Force serving in the western Arctic in Aklavik, Herchel Island, Coppermine and Cambridge Bay. He quickly gained a reputation as an expert dog musher and breeder and set speed records delivering the mail across the western Arctic, once traveling over 1100 miles by dog sled in only 32 days! Every year the young policeman traveled over 5000 miles by dog sled and patrol boat and was known and loved by nearly every Inuit family in the western Arctic. His skills as a musher, fisherman and seal hunter led to his being assigned to the RCMP Schooner St. Roch commanded by #10407/ O.346 Sergeant Henry Asbjørn Larsen. In 1940 the St. Roch was ordered to traverse the Northwest Passage traveling from Vancouver BC to Halifax Nova Scotia, a feat that had never been done before. On June 21, 1940, the St. Roch set sail with Larsen as captain, and crew members; #10607 Cst. Frederick Sleigh Farrar first mate, #8406 Cpl. Myles Frederick Jack Foster chief engineer, Cst. #12704 George William Peters second engineer, #13013 Cst.E.C. DeanHadley wireless operator, #7756 Cst. William John Parry cook, and Frenchie Chartrand and #12740 Cst. Pat G. Hunt as seamen. The story of the St. Roch history making voyage went on to become that of legend, but the trip was interspersed with periods of rough weather, being frozen in ice for months, attending to police patrols conducting a census of the Inuit people and dog sled patrols lasting up to 62 days and covering over 1100 miles in bone chilling weather.

While the ship sat frozen in the ice of Pasley Bay the crew went about their daily routines. Cst. Chartrand had always been the picture of health but the morning he died he sat on the edge of his bunk and complained to Pat Hunt that he had indigestion. After Cst. Hunt went topside for a few minutes he returned to find Frenchie lying dead on the floor, having suffered a massive heart attack.

Being the only Roman Catholic in the crew, his comrades decided that he had to have proper burial so Sgt. Larsen and Cst. Hunt traveled over 400 miles to the community of Pelly Bay and asked the Catholic Priest, Father Gustav Henry to come to Pasley Bay to conduct a funeral service for their friend. The priest agreed to travel there to conduct the service but advised them that he could not go until May because there were not enough food supplies available for him to make the arduous journey and he and his dogs would starve. Reluctantly the two policemen agreed that the funeral would have to wait and headed back to their ship, arriving three weeks overdue and having nearly starved to death. True to his word Father Henry arrived in May and with an altar set up on the ship’s deck he conducted the service with the crew singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Nearer my God to Thee”. Afterwards he went up the hill to the cairn the men had built and blessed the grave. 

On October 11, 1942, the St. Roch arrived in Halifax having traveled 9,745 nautical miles nearly two years after leaving Vancouver. In recognition of their historic voyage every member of the crew was awarded the Polar Medal. Constable Frenchie Chartrand still lies buried beneath the rock cairn on a lonely wind-swept bluff at Pasley Bay.

1970– The RCMP Air Division takes delivery on its first de Havilland Twin Otter. 

The first of six (CF-MPB, MPC, MPF, MPH, MPL and MPN) 20 passenger short takeoff and landing aircraft (STOL) are powered by two Pratt and Whitney PT6A-27 turbo prop engines and cruise at an average speed of 175 mph. The Twin Otter becomes the work horse of northern flight operations and are based out of Yellowknife, Regina, Frobisher Bay, Inuvik, Whitehorse and Edmonton. 

By the end of 1974 the fleet has flown over 23,320 hours and ten pilots; Inspector N. Brisbin, Staff Sergeants B.M. Thomson, E.H. Wright, R.D. Sunders, G.M. Hayden, N.C. Muffitt, D.J. Klancher, L.D. Hickey and Sergeants L.A. MacCoulloch and N.R. Cross had been awarded 1000 hour certificates from the de Havilland Aircraft Company. 

1986– While driving to Fort Langley, BC #36579 Cst. R.R. Young noticed headlights glowing in a water filled ditch. When he stopped he discovered a submerged car and observed a woman struggling in the cold water with child.  Cst. Young jumped into the water and pulled them out of the vehicle and then proceeded to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the unconscious child and revived her. For his actions in saving the pair he was awarded the Meritorious Certificate from the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.

February 12th

1885 –Parliament grants amnesty to Louis Riel, W. B O”Donoghue, and Ambroise-Dydime Lepine for their roles in the March 1870 execution of adventurer Thomas Scott at the Red River Settlement.

1955 –A United States Air Force B-47 Stratojet with 4 crew members aboard exploded and crashed in northern Saskatchewan. The bomber (tail number 17013) was flying as the number two aircraft in a formation of eleven B-47’s en route from Thule Air Base, in Greenland to March Air Force Basein California. 

As soon as the crash was reported the Royal Canadian Air Force initiated a search and rescue mission code-named “Big Sandy Lake” and shortly thereafter a RCAF Dakota dropped a para-rescue team who located two survivors and the body of a third crew member killed in the crash. The first aircraft capable of landing near the crash site was a RCMP de Havilland single Otter “CF-MPP”, from Churchill Manitoba, piloted by #16312 S/Sgt Arnold Noel Beaumont and co-pilot #15969 / O.633Robert Lorne Fletcher. The two survivors were loaded into the Otter and they were flown out to The Pas, Manitoba.The fourth B-47 crewman was located and rescued by helicopter 72 hours after the crash, having parachuted into a cluster of trees some distance from the crash site.  S/Sgt Arnold Beaumont was subsequently awarded a Certificate of Meritorious Achievement by the USAF for his part in the rescue.

1978 –While making a routine patrol in Prince George, B.C. #29536 Cst. C. James Delnea saw flames and smoke billowing out of a window on the top floor of the MacDonald Hotel. 
Delnea radioed his partner #25168 Cst. Orville Smith who rushed to the scene and the two policemen rushed into the hotel and began waking the patrons and advising them to get out of the hotel. As the pair continued to bang on doors the smoke increased in its intensity forcing them to crawl on their hands and knees as they worked their way outside for some fresh air. After catching their breath, the soot covered men rushed back into the burning building and continued to bang on doors alerting the sleeping patrons. 

On the second attempt, they heard a woman screaming for help and a man shouting at her to get down on the floor. As they proceeded to make their way to her room the firemen arrived wearing breathing apparatus and directed them to the fire exit. Once outside Cst. Delnea assisted the firemen in getting a ladder up to the couple’s room and they were rescued. In recognition of their heroism both constables were awarded Meritorious Certificates from the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. 

February 11th

1926 –TV/Movie actor, comedian Leslie William Nielsen is born at Regina Saskatchewan. Nielsen was raised in Fort Norman in the Yukon, where his father #08098Ingvard Nielsen was the Detachment Commander. One of his two brothers, Eric, was the deputy Prime Minister of Canada in Joe Clark’s government in 1979. He died November 28, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A member of the RCMP was present for his funeral.

1966 –Honour Roll Number 131.#20388 Constable Thomas Percy Carroll age 28 was killed in a plane crash at Cyril Lake, Manitoba.

At the time of his death Tom Carroll had been in the RCMP for nearly eight years and was married with a young son. A native of Nelson British Columbia, Cst. Carroll had transferred to Churchill Manitoba ten months before. Carroll was returning from a three-day patrol in the isolated Native community at Shamattawa and traveling with him was the 38-year-old Indian Agent, Donald McEwen. Their chartered flight was to take them to the town of Ilford where they would catch a train for the 50-mile trip back to Churchill. Around 3:00 p.m. the pilot put the plane down on the ice on Cyril Lake because he was running low on fuel and radioed for someone to bring him fuel by tractor.

The fuel arrived three hours later and after filling his tanks the pilot decided to take off in the dark over the concerns of ground crew. Using he lights of the tractor, the plane lifted off the ice and began a steep climb to 150 feet when the plane stalled and then plummeted into the ice and burst into flames. All three men were killed instantly.

Thomas Percy Carroll was buried in his family plot at the Nelson Cemetery. 

1977 –A Fisherman in Nova Scotia catches the world’s heaviest known crustacean. The monster lobster weighs in at 20.2-kg.

1978 – As the Pacific Western Airlines Flight 314 was landing in a snow storm at the Airport in Cranbrook BC, the crew suddenly noticed a snow plow on the runway. The pilot immediatelyinitiated a “go-around” procedure, but the aircraft’s thrust reversers did not stow away properly because all hydraulic power on the aircraft was automatically cut off during lift-off. The Boeing 737-235 managed to miss the snowplow, but overran the runway, crashed and burned. Forty-two of 49 people aboard were killed including#18535 Sgt Ron Riddell who was returning to Cranbrook, from his father’s funeral.

One of the Cranbrook Detachment members who rushed to the scene and helped rescue survivors was #25563 Cst. W. Harold Bowes who received Commanding Officers commendation for his actions.