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), who 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

May 3rd

1885 – #907 Corporal William Hay Talbot Lowryage 28 and #402 Constable Patrick Burke age 33 died as a result of the battle between the Government forces and Indians at Cut Knife Hill, N.W.T. (See May 2nd)

1969– Rock star Jimi Hendrix is arrested for heroin possession at Toronto International Airport; and later released on $10,000 bail

1936– Ambassador Pictures release “Phantom Patrol” starring Kermit Maynard as RCMP Sgt. Jim McGregor Phantom Patrol in another chapter in the adventures of our Mountie hero. In this escapade the wanted criminal ‘Dapper’ Dan Geary notices the striking resemblance between himself and noted author Steven Norris, so he kidnaps him and hides out in the writers home. Having nothing better to do he decides to try his hand at writing. Things are going well for our fugitive until his stenographer reads some of his latest writing to the good Sergeant. The Mountie becomes suspicious and the jig is up for Dapper Dan.

1983– Former Commissioner Malcolm F.A. Lindsay LL.B dies. He joined the RCMP in 1927 and rose through the ranks to become the Commissioner on August 15, 1967. Commissioner Lindsay retired on September 30, 1969 after nearly 40 years of service.

1984– Constable #36305 Paul A. Marsh earned a Commanding Officers Commendation and the Maritime Association of Police award “The Police Officer of The Year” for disarming and arresting an armed and violent man at Burnt Church Reserve in New Brunswick.

1984– The Royal Canadian Humane Society Certificate of Merit was awarded to #35061 Harvey. C. Stiles. Upon arrival at the scene of a drowning in Pictou County, NS, he found a two-year-old boy not breathing. Constable Stiles performed cardio pulmonary resuscitation on the child and succeeded in reviving the child. 

2008– On May 3, 2008, Corporal Daniel Melanson was dispatched to a report of an overturned canoe containing two men in the Bay of Chaleur at Belledune, New Brunswick. When he arrived on the scene, he learned that one man had managed to swim to safety, but the second was still in the frigid water approximately 30 metres from shore near the canoe. Cpl. Melanson removed some of his clothing and equipment and swam to the victim grabbed him and pulled him back to shore. The man was then treated by paramedics who in turn rushed him to the hospital. On October 12, 2012, Cpl. Melanson was awarded the Medal of Bravery at a ceremony in Ottawa for his actions in saving the man from perishing.

May 2nd

1670– The Hudson’s Bay Company comes into existence whenKing Charles II of England grants a Royal charter for his cousin Prince Rupert and a group of investors called “The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay”.

The charter gives the company the exclusive rights of commerce on all lands flowing into Hudson Bay, and charges them to find a route to the South Seas belt. For 200 years the Hudson Bay Company has a virtual monopoly on all trade in “Rupert’s Land”which covers an area of 3.9 million square kilometers (1.5 million sq mi). 

The land controlled by the Hudson Bay Company was expanded even further when it merged the North West Company of Montreal in 1821, and the combined territory was extended by a license to include lands comprising the watershed of the Arctic Ocean on the north and to the Pacific Ocean on the west. 

The British and Canadian governments had been concerned about American expansionism for some time and therefore had been negotiating the transfer of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company to Canada. In 1868 the Rupert’s Land Act was passed authorizing the transfer, and purchase by Canada in but the Red River Rebellion in Manitoba delayed the matter until 1870.

On May 7, 1870 the Hudson Bay Company formally sold most of Rupert’s Land to Canada for £300,000. The Company kept over 2.8 million hectares of land around their numerous trading posts and Canada assumes control of what is now much of the Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, northern Ontario, northwestern Quebec and portions of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. The new land is renamed as the Northwest Territories.

1885– Honour Roll Numbers10, 11 and 12.

#565 Cpl. Ralph Bateman Sleigh age 27, #907 Corporal William Hay Talbot Lowryage 28 and #402 Constable Patrick Burke age 33 diedas a result of the battle between the Government forces and Indians at Cut Knife Hill, N.W.T.

On May 1, 1885 during the Northwest Rebellion Colonel William Dillon Otter led 319 men including 74 members of the NWMPcontingent commanded by #O.37 William Herchmer the brother of the Commissioner to Cut Knife Hill, 38 miles from Battleford. 

In the six-hour fight with Cree and Stoney Indians led by Chief Poundmaker, surrounded Otter’s forces and soundly routed them. As a result, three members of the NWMP and five members of the militia were killed. Constable Sleigh was killed in action after being shot in the mouth and #36 Sergeant John Ward was wounded but survived. Constable Burke and Corporal Lowry were mortally wounded and died the following day. #762 Constable Richard Routledge was cited for his bravery in battle.

All of the dead were buried at Battleford on May 4th. Cpl. Ralph Bateman Sleigh a native of Matlock England had no relatives in Canada and his North-West Canada Medal was never claimed. It is now on display in the RCMP Museum in Regina. Corporal William Lowryand Constable Paddy Burke had both come from Ireland to join the Mounted Police. All five of Burke’s sons later joined the Mounted Police and his daughter married a Mountie.

May 1st

1932 – On this day the RCMP absorbs the Prince Edward Island Provincial Police Force. #4870 / O.246 James Fripps becomes the first commanding officer of the newly created “L” Division. 

1941– Honour Roll Number 68. #10063 Constable Charles James Johnstone age 38 was lost at sea on the only troopship to lose Canadian troops en route to England during WW2.

The 5000-ton SS Nerissa had crossed the North Atlantic alone and was approximately 35 miles off the coast of Scotland when at 00.27 hours she was hit by the first of three torpedoes fired from the German submarine U-552 commanded by Erich Topp. Constable Johnstone was last seen on the deck of the ship at one of the lifeboat stations but never made it off the ship alive. The ship sank within four minutes of the first attack, taking all but 84 of the ship’s complement of 290 souls to the bottom. The survivors spent 8 ½ hours in lifeboat and were later rescued by the HMS Veteran and later transferred to the HMS Kingcup.

Among the passengers were six other members of the R.C.M.P. Provost Company en route to England as reinforcements to the Provost Corps. They included Acting Corporal #9512 Lewis ArcherDenton and Constable #12797 John Hugh Francis Mara both of whom sustained leg injuries. Constables #12502 Raymond Victor Currie and #13298 Alfred R. Nicholas had to be treated for exposure while Constables #13015 G.F. Keeland and #13760 John E. MacPhee were unharmed.

Constable Charlie Johnstone had served in the RCMP for 13 years in Ottawa before he was accepted into the reinforcement draft, his wife Helene survived him.

1947– #11358 / O.396 Staff Sergeant Cecil Herbert Bayfield is awarded a Commissioners Commendation for “selfless devotion to duty and outstanding work” for his role in an espionage investigation.

1951– Leonard Hanson Nicholson, M.B.E. becomes the ninth permanent Commissioner and serves until March 31, 1959.

1972– The Supreme Court of Canada rules that compulsory breath tests do not constitute a breach of the Canadian Bill of Rights.

April 30th

1938– Commendation issued to #11297 Sergeant John (Jack) Fossum for his investigative work at Wynyard, Saskatchewan. 

Born November 19, 1905 at Rennebu, Norway, Fossum had a very interesting career from when he joined the RCMP on March 10, 1932 and served until September 5th, 1953, having served in ‘F’ ‘K’ & ‘E’ Divisions. His varied career included being in the Musical Ride working undercover, conducting surveillance during the Doukhobor protests and a detachment commander He was named Kitimat BC’s Citizen of the Year in 1966 and in 1981 he authored his first book about his exploits “Cop in the Closet” and followed up with a second “Mancatcher” in 1990. He died December 7th, 2004 at Black Creek, B.C his proudest achievement being the fact that he had drawn a RCMP pension for 41 years!

1942-Republic Pictures releases the feature length movie “The Yukon Patrol” starring Allan Lane as Sgt. Dave King. The movie is a shortened version of the 12-part serial “King of The Royal Mounted” released two years earlier. (See September 20, 1940)

1943– Honour Roll Number 74.#13205

Constable James Harvard Delamere Bedlington age 28 was killed in a motorcycle accidentwhile training with the Provost Company in Scotland. Constable Jim Bedlington joined the RCMP in 1939 and prior to volunteering for the reinforcement draft to the Number 1 Provost Company he served in detachments in Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In May 1942, he was transferred overseas and began his motorcycle training as a military policeman. A year later his unit assigned to the 1stCanadian Infantry Division was moved to Scotland in preparation for the assault on Sicily. While there he was traveling in a convoy and crashed his motorcycle and was killed.He was buried in the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England. 

1981-Corporal #26716 R. Marcel Jacques was in the Royal Bank at La Salle, Quebec in plain clothes when two masked men robbed the bank of $25,000 and shot and wounded a customer. As they attempted to flee from the scene, he drew his revolver and ordered them to stop. When they attempted to escape on motorcycle, Jacques shot out the rear tire and the chased the pair as they fled on foot. As they ran away, they split up and one of the men began shooting at the Corporal as he took refuge in an apartment building.  When the local police converged on the scene the suspect shot himself instead of surrendering. The Montreal Urban Police captured his partner later. On August 25, 1981 Corporal Jacques was awarded the Canadian Bankers’ Association Gold Medal for his bravery in the apprehension of the bank robbers.

1987– In recognition for noticeable initiative, enthusiasm and teamwork #22791 Sergeant Fred J. Erler of the Lethbridge, Alberta Commercial Crime Section and #24802 Constable Ray D. Cameron of Lethbridge Detachment were awarded Commanding Officers Commendations. The pair spent over a year investigating crude oil thefts across southern Alberta and succeeded in prosecuting the suspects.

April 29th

1903-#3495 Constable Robert Leard was one of the lucky survivors when a 90-million-ton wedge of limestone slid off Turtle Mountain onto the coal-mining village of Frank at 4:10 am. The slide buried the mine entrance and killing at least 70 people in only 100 seconds. The slab of limestone was 1,300 ft high, 4,000 ft wide, 500 ft thick. Seventeen men who were trapped in the mine managed to dig themselves out a day later. The town of Frank near Crowsnest Pass Alberta was permanently evacuated.

1966– A man escaped from the Riverview Mental Hospital in Kamloops after being admitted on April 8, 1966 and showed up a few days later at the home of David Terry on the Bridgewater Indian Reserve. 

While Terry was sitting at his kitchen table a shot rang out of the dark grazing his chest and arm and smashed into his table lamp. As the prowler rushed into his house Terry grabbed his rifle and shot back at the gunman and then ran out of the house and fled to a friend’s house, two miles away. When they returned the following day, they discovered that the prowler had stolen two rifles and some ammunition. After reporting the matter to the police and that Terry had recognized the voice of the gunman as the man who had been committed to the institution the police spent the next six days searching for him in the back country between Ashcroft and Clinton BC. 

On April 29ththe search team consisting of Conservation Officer J.A. McCabe, #15885 Corporal Robert M. Crookshank and Constable #18962 Norman R. Harvey-McKean heard from Billy Spoonemore a cowhand on the Reynolds Ranch that the suspect was seen walking towards the Big Bar Ferry on the Fraser River.

McCabe rushed on ahead in an attempt to intercept the suspect at the ferry while the policemen and Billy Spoonemore tracked him on foot. When they men spotted the gunman Constable Harvey-McKean borrowed the cowboy’s horse and outer clothes and rode up to the suspect and pretended to water his horse. He then began a conversation with the gunman, but the suspect became suspicious and when he grabbed for his rifle the constable leaped from his horse, and knocked him to the ground and wrestled him for the rifle. In the struggle the rifle discharged, and the shot passed under the Harvey-McKean ‘s arm. He was successfully subdued and taken into custody and returned to the hospital. For his bravery and great presence of mind the eleven-year veteran Constable Harvey-McKean was awarded a Commissioners Commendation.

2000– Medal of Bravery earned in Kosovo

While serving in Kosovo on a United Nations mission, #43027 Konrad Lionel Shourie along with S/Sgt. Jones, and Cst. Nagy found themselves in the middle of civil unrest in the community of Mitrovica. A fellow UN police officer had his vehicle attacked by a mob and he was dragged from his vehicle and assaulted. Seriously injured the officer managed to flee and had taken refuge inside a building and radioed his position to the area police station.

S/Sgt. Jones, Cpl. Shourie and Cst. Nagy, and other members of the international contingent, formed a rescue team and armed with shields, rushed to the scene to rescue their comrade and eleven other people who were also trapped in the building. Despite sporadic gunfire and exploding grenades, the team advanced into the mob, as the rioters pelted them with debris, rocks and bottles. The team succeeded in pushing their way to the building and then barricaded themselves in the stairwell. After the team located their colleague, French military armoured vehicles arrived at the scene and were able to provide medical care to the wounded victim and transported the group back to the safety of their police station. For his actions in the rescue, Cpl. Konrad Lionel Shourie was awarded the Medal of Bravery.

2003– Constables #33996 Mike O’Brien and #41852 Jason Derry were awarded The Lifesaving Society Certificate of Appreciation for rescuing a young girl trapped on bridge footing, PEI. 

April 28th

1964– After the RCMP provided enough evidence to show that Ottawa based Vasily Vasilievich Tarasov a correspondent for Soviet newspaper Izvestia was spying for the Soviet Union, he was ordered expelled from Canada.

1988– Four-year-old Matthew Fedor died this day. He was the first Canadian to receive a bone-marrow transplant from the newly created Red Cross pilot program, the Unrelated Bone Marrow Registry.  

In November 1987 Powell River BC Constable Bruce Denniston was diagnosed with chronic myelocytic leukemia as well, but none of his family members were a suitable match for a transplant. At the time the registry only had 1500 names recorded and none were matches for Bruce. With the support of friends and co-workers the Bruce Denniston Bone Marrow Society was created with the sole purpose of providing financial assistance to the Registry so that it could expand and give Bruce and all patients like him a second chance at life. Unfortunately, by the time a suitable match was found, cancer had ravaged Bruce’s body too much and he died in 1989. Bruce may have passed on but the society that bears his name continues to raise funds to support the work of the Canadian Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry and has saved numerous lives since.
You can help by contacting:

The Bruce Denniston Bone Marrow Society
P.O. Box 157
Powell River, BC
V8A 4Z6
phone 604-485-8488
toll free 1-877-485-8488
fax (604) 485-0052