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

June 20th

1932– Monogram Pictures releases the movie “Honor of The Mounted” starring Tom Tyler as RCMP constable Tom Haliday. The 57-minute movie tells the tale of a Mountie who is framed for a murder he didn’t commit. After being disgraced, our hero decides to clear his name and reputation by heading to the United States to get the real killer and bring him to justice. The movie is based on the 1914 silent film of the same name starring Murdock MacQuarrie.

1942 – Japan Attacks Canada

A Japanese submarine fired shells at the isolated Estevan Point on Vancouver Island, doing very little damage. This is the only time Canadian land territory came under attack during World War II. There were several submarine attacks against ships in Canadian waters during the war, including the sinking of HMCS Charlottetown Sept. 11, 1942, one km from Rimouski that resulted in the death of 44-year-old RCMP Master J. Willard Bonner (Honour Roll #73)

1945– Commendation is awarded to #14596/ O.515 Constable Henry Peter Tadeson for his investigation into the Black Market in Alberta.

1964– Honour Roll Number 126.

#17644 Corporal Ervin Jack Giesbrecht age 31 drowned when his patrol car plunged into the water at Hybord, Manitoba. Cpl. Giesbrecht was patrolling the construction site of a new dam and was driving on the temporary Cofferdam prior to scheduled blasting to ensure that there was nobody near the area prior to scheduled blasting. For unknown reasons, his car drifted slowly to the right and slipped over the edge of the dam, and rolling onto its roof in 20 feet of water. Local fisherman made a rescue attempt and a heavy crane was used to retrieve the vehicle within 25 minutes, but Giesbrecht had drowned.

Giesbrecht joined the RCMP on March 25, 1952 and had been a former heavy-weight “Golden Gloves” boxing champion. He had been married for only 14 months and had an infant child. He was buried at the Garry Memorial Park in Fort Garry Manitoba.

1967– On this day, #24676/ O.1160 Constable Richard H. Bennett rescued three adults from St. Lawrence River after their boat had overturned near Caughnawaga Quebec. The heroic rescue occurred when Cst. Bennett dove into the swift water carrying life jackets to the four victims who were clinging to their overturned boat. Bennet had to dive underwater to rescue Mrs. Lise Lavallee and afterwards returned to the boat and rescued Emile Taillefer and Jen-Guy Lavellee. The fourth victim Romeo Girard was carried away by the current and drowned before he could be rescued. As a result of his bravery Constable Bennett received a commendation from the Royal Life Saving Society on October 11, 1968.

June 19th

1841-The first permanent commissioner of the NWMP George Arthur French was born on this day at Roscommon, Ireland. He died in London, England July 28, 1921.

1874– Two hundred new NWMP recruits arrive at Fort Dufferin, Manitoba.

1877– Honour Roll Number 2.

#409 Sub Constable George Mahoney age 20 drowned when crossing the Red Deer River on patrol from Battleford to Fort Walsh, N.W.T. 

Sub Constable George Mahoney and a Metis scout were traveling from Battleford to Fort Walsh with a wagon team. When they arrived at the Red Deer River the two men discovered that the river was too deep to ford, so they decided to leave the team and wagon and cross the river in a small flat bottom boat. During the crossing the boat capsized and they fell in the water. Initially Mahoney was not concerned because he found himself in shallow water but when he attempted to wade to shore he realized he was stuck in quicksand. As Mahoney was being sucked into the quicksand and recognizing his fate, he dictated his last will and testament verbally to his Metis scout who had managed to swim to shore. He drowned shortly afterwards and his body was never recovered.

Constable Mahoney was only twenty years of age and had served in the NWMP for two years.

1914– Coal mine explosion at Hillcrest Alberta leaves 189 men dead or missing. 

At 9:30 am an explosion ripped through the No. 1 mine of the Hillcrest collieries at Hillcrest Alberta bring death and destruction to the community of 1500 people creating 130 widows and 400 fatherless children. When the explosion occurred 1,600 feet underground there were 236 men at work in the mine and only forty-one men were recovered in the early stages of the rescue attempt. The force of the explosion was so strong that the engine house building located over 100 feet from the mouth of the pit was demolished. The eight-inch concrete walls of the building were smashed and its roof was blown off, sending debris over forty feet away. 

By ten o’clock that evening, only sixteen bodies had been recovered due to the mass of debris hampering any rescue attempt. Included in the rescue attempt were Constables #5117 Frederick Mead, #4554 Arthur Grant and #5201 William Hancock all of who worked tirelessly throughout the entire rescue attempt and investigation into the disaster.

On June 21st, a mass funeral service was held beneath Turtle Mountain for the dead who had been recovered to that point. Counted among the 189 dead was former Constable #5365 Frank Moult Bostock who had left the Force in 1912. The actual cause of the explosion was never fully determined, but investigators believed that methane gas and coal dust was ignited by a spark, causing Canada’s worst coal mine disaster. The mine was eventually reopened but on September 19, 1926 a second underground explosion killed two miners.

All three members received commendations for their work. 

Frederick Mead joined the RNWMP in 1910 and served until he retired as a Deputy Commissioner in 1947. Arthur Grant joined in 1907 and retired a Sergeant in 1920 and William Hancock joined the Force in 1911 and served until 1946 retiring an Assistant Commissioner.

1943– Constable Roderick Ballthe Great Survivor.

Very few people ever lived a life half as adventurous as the life of #10740 Constable Roderick Jerome John Ball, who joined the RCMP in 1929 and served until 1941 to serve in the military during WWII and returned to the RCMP in 1946.

In 1936 he received a commendation for completing a 2,400-km dog sled patrol between Stony Rapids Saskatchewan and Thelon, NWT and in 1938 he received a second commendation for his role in investigating an accidental drowning.

But his most famous adventure came after he resigned from the RCMP in WW2 to serve in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a tail gunner in a “Halifax” bomber. In 1943 during a bombing run with the 403 Squadron, his plane was shot down over Caen, France, and being unable to bail out Ball rode the plane to the ground and crashed. During the crash the ball turret he was in broke free of the fuselage and he survived, suffering a broken arm and leg. Taken prisoner he was moved to Stalag Luft III near Sagan Germany, where he recovered from his injuries. 

While a prisoner of war, Ball participated in “The Great Escape” when on March 24, 1944 after months of digging a 340-foot tunnel, seventy-six of 220 prisoners managed to flee in a mass escape. Most of the escapees were easily tracked in a sudden snowstorm resulting in most of them being re-captured. Fifty of the escapes were summarily shot by Gestapo. Fortunately for Ball he was not one of the men who made it out of the tunnel. He remained a POW until he was finally freed on May 2nd, 1945. Of the 76 men who managed to escape nine were Canadian Airmen serving with the RAF and RCAF. Of those, Flight Lieutenants Patrick W. Langford, George E. McGill, James C. Wernham and George W. Wiley along with Flying Officers Henry J. ‘Hank’ Birkland, and Gordon A. Kidder, were executed. Only Flight LieutenantsBill Cameron, A. Keith Ogilvie (RAF)and Alfred B. Thompson survived.

Hollywood immortalized the event with a movie based on this escape staring Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough in 1963.

After his release from a POW camp at the end of the war Constable Ball returned to duty with the RCMP and continued with his career as a Mounted Policeman and retired in 1951. 

1983 – The new 60,000 seat domed stadium in Vancouver was opened to the public. The government held a contest to name the new $126 million facility. The winning name “BC Place Stadium” was proposed by several people including, #19037 S/SgtIhor Yaroslaw (Hank) Dedish MB, NCO i/c of Kitimat Detachment. He along with the other winners received an all expenses paid trip to Vancouver for the official opening.

June 18th

1907-On this day #3159 / O.133 Inspector Arthur Duffus used his personal car to transport his royal Highness, Prince Fushimi of Japan while on his visit to Calgary Alberta. This is believed to be the first time the RNWMP used an automobile on duty.

1944– The Chapel at Depot Division in Regina Saskatchewan was built in 1883 and has seen many items and memorial plaques dedicated over the years. On this day, the two stain glass windows at the back of the Chapel were dedicated. The windows were the gift of the Maritime Provinces Association of Regina and were “dedicated to the men of Maritime birth who died while in the service of the Force.” The window on the right depicts a trumpeter-sounding reveille and is symbolic of the Resurrection. The biblical quotation at the bottom of the window reads, “For the Trumpet Shall Sound.”The window on the left is a standing Constable in Review Order with his head bowed and his rifle reversed. Its quotation reads, “Blessed are They that Mourn.”

The windows were commissioned in 1941 and were designed and created by Mr. William Edward Briffett who worked for the Robert McCausland Company of Toronto. The designed was based on a series of photographs taken of #13143 Corporal John Roy Fraser who posed in Review Order. The Cost of manufacturing the windows in 1941 was $600.

1962– Honour Roll Numbers 116, 117, 118. 

Three Constables #19233 Elwood Joseph Keck age 25, #20215 Donald George Weisgerber age 23 and #20865 Gordon Eric Pedersen age 23 were shot and killed while investigating a complaint near Kamloops BC.

Around 9:00 am, on the morning of June 18, 1962, disgruntled thirty-one-year-old former mental patient George Booth, was upset about the reduction of his welfare payments took his rifle and headed into the Provincial Welfare Office in Kamloops. When he arrived at the Provincial Administration Building, he encountered two Provincial Game Wardens and when challenged about having a sheathed rifle, Booth responded in a threatening tone and told them in no uncertain terms to “get the hell out of there”. The Wardens then phoned the RCMP City Detachment. Constables Keck and Pedersen advised the Detachment Commander #12544 S/Sgt. Bernard d’Easum about the complaint and as they were about to go to the scene Constable Weisgerberwho working in the office on his day off, decided to accompany them in plain clothes and unarmed.The members quickly located the suspect walking away from the Welfare Office carrying a rifle in a sheath and as they tried to approach him, he made a threatening gesture towards them and it quickly became clear that he wanted nothing to do with the police and he refused to respond to their demands to drop the weapon and kept walking away from them. As Booth proceeded towards Peterson Creek, he frequently looked over his shoulder to keep track of officers and occasionally turned towards them leveling his sheathed rifle at them.As numerous witnesses watched the event unfold, the three constables attempted to close the distance and they followed him onto a dirt road where the gunman removed the sheath from his rifle and began displaying it in threatening manner at the policemen.
Constable Weisgerber who was dressed in civilian clothing and unarmed, picked up the scabbard and tried to persuade the suspect to come to him to retrieve it, but the suspect ignored him and kept on walking away.
When the suspect came to a small wooden bridge over a dry creek bed he turned again and realized that one of the policemen was not following him and then he spotted Constable Pedersen crouching in the creek bed and it became clear to him that the police were trying to corner him. Without warning the gunman raised his rifle and shot at Pedersen, wounding him across the back. Constable Pederson returned fire at the suspect and struck the gunman on his right side, momentarily knocking him to the ground.Finding himself without cover, Constable Keck in an attempt to get under the bridge for cover drew his revolver and began shooting at the suspect as he ran towards him. Before he could make it to the bridge the gunman managed to get back to his feet and shot three rounds at Keck and killed him, he then he fired another shot at Constable Pedersen, killing him as well. 

When the shooting began Constable Weisgerber who was unarmed took cover behind a large gravel hopper but when his friends were killed he decided to try and run to the only radio available to call for backup which was in their police car parked two-city blocks away. He only made it a few steps before he too was fatally shot. The gunman then calmly continued up the dirt road and disappeared into the trees in Peterson Creek Canyon.

When people heard all of the gunfire, they began phoning the police detachment, and word filtered in that a policeman had been shot. Complicating the matter was the fact that Constables Keck and Pedersen were the only constables working the dayshift and they had taken one of the only two police cars with them. Then Staff Sergeant d’Easum raced to the scene after he instructed the office staff to call out every available member to assist and learning the fate of his three young constables, d’Easum contacted the Officer in Charge of the Sub Division and soon a large posse was organized.

Around 9:30 am, plain-clothes members of the Kamloops Sub-Division, General Investigation Section were advised that a city member had been shot. #16721 Corporal J. W. ‘Jack’ White #15596, Constables Ab Willms, and #18791, J.A. Norm Belanger decided to go to the top of the Peterson Creek Canyon in an attempt to cut off the gunman’s retreat. Due to the fact that the detectives only carried only snub-nosed revolvers Corporals Willms and White raced home to get their hunting rifles and armed with a full-sized service revolver for Bellanger the three officers headed to the canyon.  

The three members drove to the open grasslands above the Peterson Creek Canyon, 1,000 feet above the city until they could go no further because of the deep traversing ravines. They left their car behind and began walking towards the canyon without portable radios. Meanwhile a manhunt was organized below and was being assisted by a rented Bell 47 helicopter that was sweeping back and forth along the hillsides ahead them. The three officers decided to spread out about 150 feet from each other and move in a triangle formation towards their prey. They had to use extreme caution when crossing the gullies, they encountered because they could not see into the deep shadows or under the pine trees. By noon, the men were nearly at their intended position and could see and hear the several members searching far below working their way up the canyon toward them.

Constable Bellanger then heard something suspicious, and suddenly began backing away from the crest of the hill back towards Cpl. White with his revolver leveled and suddenly then the suspect appeared at the crest of the hill and began shooting at them.

Cpl. White fired his rifle and hit the ground midway between the suspect and the policemen, and the gunman’s shots missed both White and Bellanger. As the three officers sought cover, the gunman dove to his right and took cover behind a two-foot thick pine tree. The gunman was well protected and had a tactical advantage, laying behind the tree with his adversaries down slope. As the three policemen pondered their predicament their situation was further enhanced because their suspect was so close that they could hear the action of his rifle as he worked the bolt to reload.

Cpl. Jack White then decided to take the offensive and hoping to hit the gunman’s elbow or flush him out, White shot at the dirt to the side of the tree the suspect was hiding behind but the suspect didn’t panic and when White heard the gunman’s bolt slam home again, he took cover as another bullet slammed into and adjacent tree spraying his forehead with slivers of wood. Keeping his wits about him Cpl. White raised his head and saw the gunman roll onto his left side to reload and as he did he exposed the back of his head. Corporal White aimed, fired and shot him dead. Cautiously the three policemen approached the body of the slain gunman and confirmed he was dead and then waited for the posse to arrive. It was only after the arrival the of the ground search team did the three detectives learn that three of their brother officers had been slain.

Three days later a joint funeral was held for the three slain policemen and over 1500 people attend the service at the Kamloops Memorial Arena. Constables Keck and Weisgerber were buried with full honours at the Hillside Cemetery in Kamloops and Constable Gordon Pedersen was buried in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Vernon BC.

All three men were married, and Joseph Keck and his wife Ann had a two-year-old son, she was expecting their second child. Seven months after the murders, Betty Pedersen gave birth to a son. Later a memorial Cairn in memory of the three fallen officers was erected at Peterson Creek and the three policemen who hunted down the killer were all awarded Commissioners Commendations for Bravery.

1987– After responding to a break and enter complaint involving the Hudson’s Bay Store in Cartwright, Newfoundland, #33957 Constable R.A. Campbell was shot and wounded by the youth who had stolen 20-gauge pump action shotgun. Despite his wounds Constable Campbell was able to subdue and arrest the culprit and was later awarded Commissioners Commendation for bravery.

1987– #34921 Constable Peter David LaPorte actions in assisting the quelling of a riot at Drumheller Institution earns the Medal of Bravery.  
On the evening of June 18, 1987, some 350 prisoners at the Drumheller Medium Security Institution in Drumheller, Alberta rioted. Constable LaPorte attended to the scene to assist and for over two hours he helped disperse inmates who were attempting to break into the institution’s hospital and ensured that staff members inside were safe. 

Then Constable Laporte helped the staff of the institution disperse groups of angry inmates, fight fires that had been set in many of the prison buildings and help evacuate both prisoners and staff members from flame and smoke-filled structures while other rioters threw rocks and other debris at them. Despite the fact that Constable Laporte’s presence at the institution in his police uniform made him an easy target for the mob, he continued to perform his duties faithfully, and he was considered by prison staff as being instrumental in maintaining control of the dangerous situation.

June 13th

1939 – 20thCentury Fox releases the 78-minute movie “Susannah of the Mounties” starring Shirley Temple. It is loosely based on the novel written by Muriel Denison in 1936. In the movie Susannah is the sole survivor of an Indian massacre in the Canadian west and she is taken in by the Mounties and watched over by Inspector Angus “Monty” Montague played by Randolph Scott and his girlfriend the commanding officers daughter. In typical Shirley Temple style she wins the hearts of everyone at the post and makes peace between the Mounties and the Blackfoot Indians.

1977– Constable #33041 Allen R. MacDougall rescued two youths from the Ottawa River and received a Commanding Officers Commendation.

1996-Canada Post releases four new stamps honouring the Yukon Gold Rush. One of the 45¢ stamps features Superintendent Sam Steele of the NWMP. A second stamp featuring Sam Steel is released on November 11, 2000.

June 12th

1940– Constables #10297 Thomas Brown, #11003 Charles Patterson and #13170 Howard Puffer transferred to the military 3rd reinforcement draft to Provost Corps in WWII.

1947– The first broadcast of the popular radio show “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon” was made this day from New York City. The radio drama was about the adventures of a Canadian Mountie and his trusty dog, King. The show continued to be broadcast on radio until 1955 when it became a television show that ran until 1958. In addition to creating Sgt. Preston, the writing team of George W. Trendle and Fran Striker also created The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet dramas.

1985– While on patrol in Surrey BC, Constable Jack Saunders encountered two men fighting outside of a local hotel. As he got out of his patrol car, he caught sight of one man hiding a knife in his clothing while the second man lay writhing on the ground. He quickly examined the fallen man and discovered he had been stabbed in the chest. He immediately placed him in his police car and rushed him to the nearest hospital applying pressure to the wound as he drove. The victim was then rushed into emergency surgery where they repaired a punctured aorta. 

The assailant was later arrested and convicted of assault and Constable Sanders was awarded a Meritorious Certificate from the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem for saving the man’s life.

2003– Canada Post releases a new 65¢ stamp commemorating RCMP Depot Division in Regina Saskatchewan as part of a series of stamps on Canadian Tourist attractions.