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

August 25th

1917– After two sensational trials a Calgary court convicted two Inuit men of the murder of a Catholic Priest. The trials were as much about asserting Canadian law over the Inuit and introducing Canadian sovereignty into the North as it was about prosecuting alleged murderers. 

Inuit guides Sinnisiak and Uluksukwere hired by two Oblate missionaries, Father Le Roux and Father Rouvierein November 1913, to guide them on their journey from Great Bear Lake to Coppermine (now called Kugluktuk) in the Northwest Territories.

The priests reportedly treated the guides poorly during the trek along the fringe of the Arctic Ocean while enduring sub-zero temperatures and blizzards and tension started to build. On or about November 13th, 1913, one of the priests struck Sinnisiak in the face while they were camped at Bloody Falls.This enraged the two Inuit who then stabbed Father Le Roux to death and chased after Rouviere, and shot him in the back and then bludgeoned him with an axe when he attempted to flee.

After they murdered the two priests they ate part of Father Le Roux’s liver and then stole some of their belongings.

Catholic authorities became concerned when the priests were not heard from and eventuallyreports began to reach Fort Norman that two Inuit men had been seen wearing priests’ cassocks. 

#4766 / O.180Inspector Charles Deering (“Denny”) LaNauze, along with Constables #4794 Dennis Withers, #6296 James Edward Freeman Wight and an Inuit interpreter Ilavinik. set out from their detachment at Fort Norman on the MacKenzie River in July of 1915 to investigate the matter. During the fourteen-month patrol the group interviewed a Coppermine Inuit elder named Koeha, who described the events of the murder. 

In the spring of 1916 LaNauze’s group joined up with #4600 / O.204 Corporal Wyndham Valentine McMaster Brice Bruce who had been patrolling the coast on a ship from Herschel Island. The group eventually located the two suspects at Coronation Gulf where they were arrested without any resistance. When interviewed Sinnisiak voluntarily gave a statement detailing the events of the murders.

The initial trial in August of 1917 at Edmonton Alberta was the first time an Inuit had been tried in a Canadian court. Crown only pressed charges against Sinnisiak, and only for the murder of Father Rouvière. The reason was that Crown Counsel McCaul was concerned about the public sentiment being churned up by the media and he feared that six-man jury was anti Catholic. After the four day trial the jury delivered a verdict of Not Guilty. The confused accused Sinnisiak, blurted out, “It is not true. I did kill him.” Chief Justice Harvey and Crown Counsel McCaul were outraged but Crown Counsel was prepared with additional charges against both men for the murder of Father LaRoux. He then applied before the same judge for a change of venue, claiming that there was prejudice in Edmonton against the prosecution and the judge agreed and moved the venue to Calgary.

On August 25, 1917, a second trial for the murder of Father LaRoux was held and both men were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. But the sentence was immediately commuted to life imprisonment to be served at the Mounted Police detachment in Fort Resolution. After only two years of doing odd jobs around the detachment both men were released from custody and returned to their homes.

Many have asserted that the special treatment of these men occurred so the Canadian government could send a message to the Inuit people to illustrate the power, supremacy and mercy of the Canadian law.  Though they had been described as model prisoners while in custody, Uluksuk, became troublesome again and established a reputation as an arrogant bully and a thief. He met his end in 1924 when another Inuk, killed him. Sinnisiak led a quieter life and died in 1930.

Denny LaNauze joined the RNWMP in 1908 and retired as an Assistant Commissioner in 1944 when he returned to his native England where he died in 1952. Dennis Withers served from 1908 to 1936 retiring to British Columbia as a Sergeant. James Wight also retired as a Sergeant having served from 1914 to 1945 and returned to Yarmouth NS. Wyndham Valentine McMaster Brice BRUCE served in the Force from 1907 to 1943 when he retired to North Saanich BC as an Assistant Commissioner. 

1941– The 7th reinforcement draft to the WWII RCMP Provost Corps included Constables: 

  • #13333 Alexander McEwen 
  • #13633 Kenneth Ferguson

August 24th

1874– Commissioner French and 5 divisions of the NWMP arrived on the border of “Blackfoot” country, having trekked across much of western Canada.

1982– #24515 Corporal Bruce N. McIntosh earned a Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery after he and his partner #37314 Constable Gary Allan Wallace responded to a complaint in Nelson House, Manitoba. Neighbors had called the police because an unstable man, D.A. Kobliski, had a gun and had assaulted his mother and threatened to commit suicide.

After driving 60 miles north of the city Thompson they arrived at the scene and found Kobliski leaning out of the window of his house with a rifle. Cpl. McIntosh cautiously approached the house on foot and proceeded to talk to the gunman while Cst. Wallace stayed at their police car and provided cover for the corporal. After half an hour of talking Kobliski still refused to turn over the rifle but invited the two officers inside to talk over a cup of coffee. The gunman’s brother and sister who had been in the house agreed to go outside to speak with Cst. Wallace while Cpl. McIntosh continued to try and convince Kobliski to give up the gun. Suddenly he placed the rifle under his chin and threatened to shoot himself but then recanted and then pointed the rifle at the corporal and said he was going to shoot him instead. When Kobliski looked away for a split second, McIntosh grabbed the rifle and proceeded to wrest it from him. In the scuffle the rifle discharged and Cpl. McIntosh was shot through his lower right abdomen. By the time Cst. Wallace rushed in to help, the wounded policeman had already overpowered the gunman and was placing him in handcuffs. 

Sergeant Bruce N. McIntosh recovered from his gunshot wound and returned to duty. He retired in 1998 after 32 years of service in the RCMP.

1985 – At the start of his shift in Gillam Manitoba, #33241 Constable R.D. Lyon had no idea that he would have to climb a 150’ hydro tower to help rescue a suicidal man. 

When Hydro officials found a man was perched at the top of a tower threatening to jump, they attempted to talk him down. The jumper refused and requested to speak with Cst. Lyon, so he was dispatched to the scene. There Lyon and Manitoba Hydro employee Dorn Crowe, climbed the 150-foot tower and the constable eventually talked the man into putting on a rescue belt so he could get him to the ground safely. During the decent the suicidal man slipped on the ladder and Mr. Crowe caught the rigging rope with his hand receiving a severe laceration but preventing them all from falling. In recognition of their rescue of the suicidal man under hazardous conditions despite the great personal risk to themselves Mr. Crowe and Constable Lyon received the Commanding Officers Commendation.

1986– While stationed at Gilliam Manitoba #36039 / O.?? C.H. Farquhar responded to a complaint of a dangerous man on the Shamattawa Indian Reserve. He was able to disarm and arrest the suspect without incident. He was later awarded with the   Commissioners Commendation.

August 23rd

1876 – The government of Canada concludes Treaty #6 at Fort Carlton Saskatchewan with the Plain/Wood Cree of Central Alberta and Saskatchewan. The treaty provides for famine relief when necessary and sets aside also a total 194,725 sq. km for reserves.

1882– Lieutenant Governor Edgar Dewdney makes Regina the seat of government for the Northwest Territories replacing Battleford as the capital. Regina was originally named “Wascana”, a Cree term for “Pile of Bones”, which referred to the large number of buffalo bones that littered the area. The Governor General of Canada, the Marquis of Lorne in honour of the reigning monarch Queen Victoria, chose the name Regina. The city is also the home of the RCMP training academy.

1890– Upon his arrival at York Factory, District of Keewatin, #O.68 Inspector Joseph Victor Begin dispatched the first NWMP patrol into Hudson Bay and the far north. He and his men had departed from Winnipeg on July 2nd1890 and arrived after patrolling the shores of Lake Winnipeg for a month in the sailing vessel Keewatin during which he established a detachment at Norway House. Begin joined the NWMP on January 22, 1885 as a commissioned officer. He served in the Boer War as a   Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion CMR. He retired in 1913. 

1957– Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas officially opens a 740 km stretch of Trans-Canada Highway. Saskatchewan is the first province to complete its portion of the national highway. The first speeding tickets are issued shortly thereafter by members of the RCMP Highway Patrol!

1961– At approximately 2:30 PM #15120 / O.738 Corporal Harold Anthony Johnson was making a routine patrol through Indian Flats near Fort Simpson in the N.W.T when he observed several people running towards the junction of the Mackenzie and Liard Rivers. When he enquired, he learned that two young girls might have just drowned. After removing his boots Cpl. Johnson swam 45 feet from shore where he located the lifeless body of Ida Irene Sabourin. As he towed her body back to shore a canoe picked them up and he began artificial respiration. When he reached shore, he was advised that another girl was missing and Mr. Emile Eyford relieved him. Corporal Johnson then went back in the water and attempted to find the second girl.  Not being able to locate the body by swimming to the bottom, he then conducted a dragging operation and eventually found the body of eleven-year-old Mary Lynn Hardisty in eight feet of water. Unfortunately, neither child survived. For his valiant attempt at rescuing the two girls Cpl. Harold Johnson was awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation.

August 22nd

1914– The War Measures Act receives Royal Assent. The Finance Act, 1914, also becomes law, giving Ottawa the power to suspend payments in gold, and to make paper money legal tender.

1991– The Supreme Court of Canada strikes down the ‘rape shield law’ thereby prohibiting the previous sexual conduct of those alleging rape being presented as evidence in court.

August 21st

1929 – Sir Winston Churchill accompanied by his son Randolph and brother Major John Churchill and son John Churchill Jr. visited Depot Division and dined at the Officers Mess.

1941– Two of four Inuit were found guilty of manslaughter in one of Canada’s most bizarre murder cases. A jury found 27-year old Charlie Ouyerack and 34-year old Peter Sala guilty after RCMP evidence revealed that nine Inuit had been murdered on a remote island chain in Hudson Bay; the Belcher Islands Nunavut’s most southerly community.

The accused were the leaders of a short-lived religious cult and Charlie Ouyerack had declared to the 43 people in the camp that he was Jesus Christ and stated that Peter Sala was God. Following Ouyerack’s declaration of his divinity the camp members observed a shooting star race toward earth before it disappeared into the swirling backdrop of the northern lights and took that as a sign that the wait for Jesus Christ’s return was over. Then the group was seized in a state of religious hysteria and they began killing their sled dogs and destroying some of their rifles. 

After a week of religious fervor, a 15-year-old girl named Sarah Apawkok,spoke up at a religious meeting on the night of Jan. 26 and declared that she did not believe that Jesus had returned. Her brother Aleca devoted disciple was enraged seized his sister by the hair and hit her across the head with a wooden club then someone lit a primus stove and held it close to her face so they could see whether she was good or wicked and declared that she was Satan. Despite her cries for mercy beat her unconscious and then she was dragged outside the igloo and where a 17-year-old girl named Akeenik, killed her by hitting her on the head with the butt end of a rifle.

The second person to die was a 47-yearman named Keytowieack, after he tried to confront Sarah’s killers. After getting into an argument with Ouyerack and Sala wherein he told them that the preaching had to stop, he was accused of being a devil. A fight broke out and he managed to get away and hid in his igloo. The next morning, he was confronted by Sala, Ouyerack and another disciple of named Adlaykok and was bludgeoned with a harpoon and then shot twice in the head. 

Two weeks later the group move to another island and joined up with another family and Ouyerack continued to preach that he was Jesus and most of the other family were absorbed into the cult. Only a 26-year-old hunter named Alec Ekpuk refused to accept the new Jesus. On the 9thof February Ouyerack and Ekpuk got into an argument and when 

Ekpuk walked away in despair, Ouyerack declared him a devil and ordered Ekpuk’s father-in-law Quarack to immediately shoot him in the back, which he did.

Two weeks after Ekpuk’s murder, Peter Sala’s (God) 25-year-old sister, Mina, was convinced that the world was ending so she ran among the igloos one night, yelling that Jesus was coming to take the people to heaven forced twelve women and their children out into the bitterly cold weather and herded them onto the sea ice to meet their saviour. After a few minutes of insanity, some of the women ordered their children to get dressed and then clamored back to their igloos with as many children they could carry. For the rest, it was too late and the minus 30 C with its numbness and frostbite set in and six members of the community died. The dead included Sala’s ‘s 55-year-old mother, her 32-year-old sister, his six-year-old son Alec along with three other children.

Seven members of the cult were eventually arrested and charged with murder. Alec Apawkok and Akeenik, were charged jointly for the murder of Sarah Apawkok.  Peter Sala and Adlaykok were charged with the murder of Keytowieack and Charley Ouyerack and Quarack were charged with the murder of Alec Ekpuk. Although Mina Sala had been diagnosed as insane, she was still charged with the murder of six-year-old Johnasie who was chosen to represent the six who died on the sea ice.

A decision was made to hold the trial on the Belcher Islands so Ottawa could demonstrate to the Inuit the purpose and force of the Canadian justice system. Though the trial was held it had more of carnival flair than a somber trial. Writing for the Canadian Press reporter James McCook penned “About 50 Eskimos smilingly greeted the party on its arrival and among them were those whose lives are at stake in the trial,” “Adlaykok, one of the accused men, greeted Constable George Dexter affectionately, throwing arms around the RCMP officer.”

A huge tent was erected for the occasion, and court was convened on the shore of a barren, sub-Arctic island. Inside the tent a wigged judge sat at a table draped with the Union Jack, and a picture of the Royal Family hung behind him. The Ottawa prosecutor and defence lawyer dressed in their robes readied their cases while dozens of Inuit spectators, sat on sealskin mats on the floor. It was a struggle to find a six-man jury for the trial so reporters McCook and William Kinmond of the Toronto Star were forced to be jurists as well as journalists. The Hudson Bay manager, Ernest Riddell and three members of a geological prospecting party, completed the jury. All the accused were pleasant and polite except for Mina who had been brought into the courtroom strapped to a stretcher and persisted in hollering and sobbing throughout the proceedings.

Though they did their best to exact justice in this horrible matter, even the prosecutor came to conclusion that this show trial was a mistake, and he even argued that hanging the accused for murder would have no deterrent effect on the wider Inuit community. Furthermore, he stated that in his opinion the white, Canadian justice system could be properly applied in such an alien place.

The Jury agreed and acquitted Alec Apawkok and found Akeenik not guilty because temporary insanity for Sarah Apawkok’s death.

Peter Sala, Adlaykok, Charley Ouyerack and Quarack were found guilty of manslaughter for the deaths of Keytowieack and Ekpuk. Mina Sala was declared to be insane, and unfit to stand trial.

Despite being convicted of manslaughter, Quarack was allowed to stay in the Belcher Islands because he was a skilled hunter. His sentence required him to provide a year-round supply of meat for the families of the exiled men.

Sala and Ouyerack were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, and Adlaykok to one. Mina and Akeenik were ordered into indefinite custody. The five were loaded onto a schooner Fort Charles and taken to Moose Factory where they served their sentences by living and working in exile in the RCMP compound. They only remained in custody for one year, Charley Ouyerack died in May 1942 after contracting tuberculosis. Peter Sala, Adlaykok, Akeenik and Mina (now normal) moved up the coast to Great Whale River, on condition that they never return to the Belcher Islands. Peter Sala eventually returned to the Belcher Islands, where he spent the rest of his life shunned by everyone.

August 20th

1936– Two new RCMP Patrol Vessels the “Macdonald” and “Laurier” were launched at Quebec City. Lady MacBrien, wife of then Commissioner Sir J.H. MacBrien, christened the MacDonald. Madame LaPointe, wife of then federal Justice Minister Ernest Lapointe, christened the Laurier.

1954– Treasury board approves a new car decal and white doors for vehicles being used for full time traffic duties. The 91/2 by 11-inch decal contained the crest of the Force. Previously Force cars only had two-inch high letters R.C.M.P. below the window on the front doors. 

In July of 1967 a new reflective coloured door decal in the shape of a large badge, containing the crest of the Force over four-inch-high black letters “RCMP” was introduced. The decal was two feet high and 20 inches wide and was accredited to #16409 / O.618 Sub Inspector “Bud” Matthew Rowell Godfrey the Officer in Charge of the Traffic Branch in Ottawa.

1987– The Federal government orders a complete ban on smoking in public service offices, effective Jan. 1, 1988. Not only did the policy immediately end smoking by government employees inside government buildings, it had a significant effect on the number of members who smoked. Prior to the ban a large percentage of members smoked, twenty years later smokers found themselves in the minority.

August 19th

1874– The hardships endured on the Great March West took its toll on both man and beast. Finally reaching an area that had both fresh grass and water a decision was made to establish a camp for the poorest animals and sick men. On this day #229 (Original Series) #297 (New Series from 1878)Sergeant James Sutherland was left in charge of what was dubbed Cripple Camp located on Old Wives Creek near present day Wood River or Noteukeu Creek near Moose Jaw. 

While the rest of the column marched on Sergeant Sutherland found himself responsible for 14 wagons, 28 of the poorest horses, 6 sick men, 1 Métis and some cattle with sore feet. While they waited to be picked up at a later date the Cripple Camp crew had to eat half rations. 

1916 – On this day former Sergeant # 4374 Robert Handcock was killed in action in France during WW1. Like many men in the Mounted Police he left the Force when his term of employment expired and he resigned from his position as NCO i/c of Isle La Crosse Detachment in northern Saskatchewan. He then paid his own way to England where he was granted a commission in the British Army.

After he left for England, his former boss from Prince Albert arrived to inspect the detachment. The Inspector was not too impressed when he discovered that the detachment stove was missing. Sgt. Handcock had traded stove for load of bricks and built a lovely fireplace in its place!

1942– The 7threinforcement draft to the RCMP Provost Corps during WW2 included; Constables #13595 Errol Reid and #13626 James Cooper.

1942– Honour Roll Number 72.

#12572 Constable Peter Seddon Oliver age 29, was killed in action while serving with the R.C.M.P. Provost Company during WW2 at Dieppe, France,

#C.42026 Lieutenant Oliver was one of 4,963 troops from seven different regiments of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, who along with nearly 1,000 British soldiers who stormed the beach at the small French village of Dieppe, in Operation Jubilee. 

The nine-hour raid lead by Major General J. H. Roberts was designed to test the Germans coastal defenses. The Canadians were slaughtered on the beach and suffered 3,500 casualties, including 900 killed, and 1,874 taken prisoner. Of the nearly 6000 soldiers who went to Dieppe, only 2,210 made it back to England. Two Canadians received the Victoria Cross that fateful day: Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Chaplain, Captain John Weir Foote (1904-1988) and South Saskatchewan Regiment Lt.-Col. Charles C.I. Merritt (1908-1979).

Chaplain Rev. Foote, spent eight hours on the Dieppe beach, tending to the wounded and then climbed out of the landing craft that would have taken him to safety so he could be taken prisoner so that he could continue to tend to his wounded comrades. Captain Foot was the only Canadian chaplain to ever be awarded the Victoria Cross. 

Lt.-Col Merritt was the Commanding Officer of the South Saskatchewan Regiment who despite being seriously wounded and having lost 81 of his men killed in action, lead his men across the Scie River before he was taken prisoner. 

Oliver joined the RCMP on June 22, 1936 and volunteered as a member of Number 1 Provost Corps. Upon assignment to the Provost Corps he was given the rank of lance corporal but was quickly promoted to Lieutenant and transferred to Number 2 Provost C Company as second in command. Of the 41 members of the Force who stormed the beach that fateful day, he was the only RCMP member killed becoming the first serving Mountie killed in action in Europe in WW2. 

Peter Seddon Oliver was born at Montmorency Quebec and was the son of retired S/Sgt. #881 George S. Oliver who retired from the NWMP in 1892. Lieutenant Oliver was buried in the Dieppe War Cemetery at Hautot-sur-Mer, France.

1993– Police officers often have to deal with mentally deranged suspects and most every situation is extremely dangerous. When #33492 Corporal J.D. Phil Boudreau and #39546 Constable J.D. Mazerolle encountered a deranged man in a park at St Francois de Kent, New Brunswick, they found him armed with a knife and a baseball bat. While trying to reason with him, they were attacked and stabbed. Despite their wounds they managed to subdue their assailant and take him into custody. They were both awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery.