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

November 29th

1906– Honor Roll Number 31.

# O.148 Assistant Surgeon Walter Stafford Flood died from exposure, while on a dog sled patrol near Fort Churchill, Manitoba.

On November 28, 1906 Assistant Surgeon Walter Stafford Flood decided to accompany #O.66 Superintendent J.D. Moodie and Engineer Thibideau on a patrol to the west side of Button Bay. Flood had fallen in love with the Arctic early in his medical career and chose to join the Royal Northwest Mounted Police as an Assistant Surgeon, so he could return to the north. As an avid outdoorsman and dog sled handler, Dr. Flood leaped at every chance to go mushing. On the first day of the patrol the men had traveled 15 miles when they discovered at noon that their ration box containing the food for both the men and their dogs had fallen off of the sled. It was a clear day, and nobody was concerned about the weather, so Dr. Flood volunteered to drive the dog team back along their trail towards Fort Churchill and retrieve the ration box. It began snowing two hours later and when the doctor hadn’t returned the men assumed he had returned to the Hudson Bay Post to wait out the weather. The following day Moodie and Thibideau trekked back to the post and discovered that Dr. Flood had not returned. A search party was organized, and his frozen body was discovered five miles south of the point he had departed from.

The investigation concluded that he had got lost in the blizzard ignoring his dogs sense of direction had steered them off course and died of exposure.

He was buried at the Mission Church cemetery at Fort Churchill.

1915– #5487 Constable Charles Harris was awarded $25 from the Fine Fund for his meritorious service in investigating a case of the theft of horse’s involving Joseph Riggart, of the Battleford area.

1955– While working as a superintendent in a gypsum quarry at Windermere, BC, Mr. Albert Edward Portman fell into hopper and found himself under six feet of loose frozen gypsum. For over two hours #16518 Corporal Kenneth Marshall McHale and two workers laboured to free him. As they were trying to dig him out a wall of frozen gypsum began to give way and #17909 Constable Hugh Dickson Bowyer wearing a short-sleeved shirt jumped into the hopper and spread himself against the wall of gypsum and for over an hour and a half held the wall back from sliding on top of the victim and his rescuers until Mr. Portman was freed. As a result of the prolonged exposure to the frozen gypsum Constable Bowyer contracted pneumonia. In recognition of his gallantry the British Empire Medal was awarded to Constable Bowyer and the Commissioners Commendation for Bravery was awarded to Constable McHale.

November 28th

1953– The Royal Canadian Humane Society Parchment was awarded to #13112 Frank Thompson for the rescue of two boys from Dows Lake, near Ottawa, Ontario.

1970– FLQ terrorists Jacques Cossette, Jacques Lanctôt, Marc Charbonneau and Pierre Séguin allowed to leave for Cuba after they hand over British trade commissioner James Cross.

1971– The Fred Quilt Affair.

Two Alexis Creek British Columbia Detachment Constables had their lives turned upside down over false allegations that they had beat and stomped a man who later died of a perforated intestine.

On the evening of November 28th 1971, Constables #23794 Peter Eakins and #25162 Daryl Bakewell checked a pick-up truck that was parked on the road without it lights on. Inside the vehicle they found Mr. Fred Quilt, with his wife and two other natives, all smelling of vanilla extract. Fred Quilt was told to step out of the vehicle and when he complied he fell.

Quilt later died from complications related to a perforated intestine and at the Coroner’s Inquest, Mrs. Quilt and the other occupants testified that the police officers had beat him and that Constable Bakewell had stomped on him. Even though the Inquest cleared them of any wrong doing, the media had a heyday and published numerous scathing reports about police brutality in press. The two officers always proclaimed their innocence and several years later they were vindicated, when on her deathbed, Mrs. Quilt admitted that she and the others had lied and that she had accidentally run over her husband with their truck. Both officers continued on with their careers with Peter Eakins retiring in 2000 as a Staff Sergeant and Daryl Bakewell retiring in 1987 as a Corporal.

1973– Commissioners Commendations were awarded to eight members of the Toronto Drug Section. Sergeants #20233 Neville E. Gillespie, G.E. Van de Graaf, J. Schneidhofer, Corporals L. Nave, E. Santori, Constable G. Zeni and Special Constables G. Capra and F. Sirianni had spent several years investigating a group that was responsible for importing and distributing large amounts of heroin into North America. Their persistence paid off when they seized over 70 pounds of heroin and convicted nine people. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation produced a movie about the investigation entitled “the Flour of the Poppy”.

1985 – Commissioner Simmonds presents Commissioners Commendations for Outstanding Service to #17968 / O.771 Chief Superintendent J.J.E. Poirier, Staff Sergeant #17515 Donald J. Willson and Sergeant J.D.C. Gagnon. The commendations were in recognition for their outstanding service in the planning, coordinating and execution of the 1984 Papal visit of Pope John Paul II across Canada.

1990– Three members of the RCMP received the Outstanding Law Enforcement Award from United States Department of Justice.

#27889 James McGinnis, #28857 / O.1619 Sidney Bloxom and #33892 Gary Harvey were recognized for their respective roles in a United States conspiracy investigation amounting to $40 million.

November 27th

1885– After being convicted of multiple murders at Frog Lake Alberta on April 2nd, War Chief Kapapamahchakwew (Wandering Spirit) and 7 other Cree warriors were hanged outside Fort Battleford. It was the last public execution in Canada. Wandering Spirit said his statement, that Canadian Pacific Railway was the main cause of his peoples’ sufferings because the railway brought many settlers to the region.

1974– During a routine traffic check near Redwater, Alberta, #29986 Constable A.J. Hurkett was overpowered and taken hostage by two suspects. The two brothers; Ronald Barry Martin age 21 and John Raymond Martin age 18, then forced Hurkett into his police car and then drove south with their hostage.

Shortly thereafter several police cars assisted by an aircraft pursued them to Calgary. When they reached downtown Calgary, the brothers believed they had eluded the police in the rush hour traffic and pulled into the Highwayman Hotel. Four Edmonton Drug Section members; Constables #21580 David Jackson, #21716 Harold Johnson, #22395 Donald Murray and #26101 Donald Meggison had managed to follow the suspects and rushed into the parking lot in their unmarked police car and arrested them at gun point. Constable Meggison seized a .22 rifle and the kidnapped member’s revolver from the suspect in rear seat and as they were removing them from the car a scuffle broke out. The culprits were quickly subdued and were charged with several criminal offences including kidnapping, and auto theft.

Constable Hurkett joined the RCMP in 1972 and retired in 1998.

1998– The Meritorious Service Medal – Constable Laurie Anne White.

What started out as a simple search of a suspected sex offender’s house in Kitimat British Columbia nearly ended in the death of #45171 Constable Laurie Anne White.

Constable White along with Corporal #38230 Michael MacDonald and #38336 Del Byron attended to the residence of Ronald Hoag, to execute a search warrant regarding a suspected sex offender. When White approached the back door, Hoag armed with a rifle, fired two shots through it.

The first shot shattered Constable White’s shin, and the second shot nearly hit Corporal Byron. As White lay wounded near the door, her two partners risked their lives to pull her to safety. She was later transported to Vancouver by air ambulance, where after eight hours of surgery she awoke to discover that the lower part of her right leg had been amputated.

The standoff with Ronald Hoag ended at 11:30 PM after he committed suicide. Both Constables Byron and MacDonald were awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery for their rescue of Constable White.

Laurie White did not let the loss of her leg end her career. Fitted with prosthesis she endured several months of rehabilitation and she became the first member of the RCMP to return to active duty with a prosthetic limb. She has gone on to become an inspirational speaker and her positive attitude and courage has been an inspiration to many, resulting in her being awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General in September 2000.

November 26th

1971– Honour Roll Number 146.

#22830 Constable Michael Robert Mason age 28, drowned while on duty when the private aircraft, in which he was a passenger, crashed into the Courtenay River at Courtenay, B.C.

Four police officers from the Victoria area were flying to Campbell River in a rented Cessna 172 airplane to interview a suspect in a series of thefts. Two officers including the pilot were from the Victoria City Police and #16657 / O.916 Llewellyn Dempsey and #22830 Constable Michael Mason were from the RCMP.

When they departed the weather was overcast with light showers but as they proceeded north the weather deteriorated and ten miles south of Campbell River the pilot began looking for a place to land. As he tried to land on a dirt runway near Courtenay he clipped the top of some trees with one of the wings and the plane spun out of control and crashed into the Courtenay River. All four occupants of the plane were knocked unconscious and when Sgt. Dempsey awoke in the submerged plane he managed to push himself and the pilot James MacDonald to the surface. When workers from a nearby sawmill came to their aid everyone was accounted for except Cst. Mason. When he was located he was found still strapped in his seat at the back of the plane. By the time they removed him from the wreckage it was too late to revive him.

Michael Robert Mason joined the RCMP on September 9, 1962 and was survived by his wife Carole and their two children. He was buried at the Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria BC.

1972– #26284 James A.R. Bryne received a Commissioners Commendation after an encounter with a man with a rifle on the Blood Reserve in Alberta. Bryne and Native Constable Camille Russell were working on the reserve when a man shot at Cst. Russell’s police car. When the gunman was located Byrne ordered him to drop the rifle, but instead he raised it and attempted to shoot, but it malfunctioned. Constable Byrne then overpowered the assailant and arrested him.

November 25th

1941– Honour Roll Number 70.

#11003 / Constable Charles Floyd Patterson age 34 died, while serving with the R.C.M.P. Provost Company, overseas.

Constable Patterson had volunteered for duty with the Number One Provost Corps, which was comprised of RCMP members who were transferred to the Canadian Army during World War Two.  He was transferred to the Provost Corps on June 12th1940 in the third draft of reinforcements and shortly thereafter assigned to Worthing, Sussex England.

#M.40761 Lance Corporal Patterson’s life was cut short by a tragic accident when he died of asphyxiation while taking a bath in his billet.

The cause of the tragedy was due to the fact that he was unfamiliar with gas heater in his tent and he failed to light one of the gas jets and he succumbed to a buildup of gas fumes. The rest of his comrades had turned in for the night after a strenuous day of training and he was not discovered until the following morning.

He was buried in the Canadian section of Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey England with full military honours.

1946– The Kings Police and Fire Medal recipient Cpl. Hugh Cecil Russell.

Two well diggers were digging a new well on a farm near the small town of Gunn Alberta. When they reached the 45-foot level, 22-year-old Edgar Belrose collapsed after being overcome by gas fumes. His partner 21-year-old Kenneth Callioux ran to the farm house for help, and he and the farmer then rushed back to the scene and Callioux descended into the well to retrieve his partner but was overcome himself and collapsed.  The farmer then rushed back to the house and called police.  #11973/ O.454 Corporal Hugh Cecil Russell along with #13035 Constable John Edward Mead responded to the scene after obtaining two 60-foot lengths of rope.

When they arrived, they found steam billowing out of the 24-inch hole into the sub- zero prairie air and further complicating the matter. They observed that the boring machine that was used to drill the well covered the hole. Cpl. Russell quickly sized up the situation and instructed Cst. Mead to supervise the surface operation and he then wrapped a water-soaked scarf over his mouth and nose and was lowered into the well.

Russell made four attempts into the well before he was able to tie a rope to Callioux’s arm and have him raised to the surface. The rescuers then attempted artificial respiration, but it was soon obvious that the man was dead. Cpl. Russell then made a fifth decent into the well, but he was overcome by the fumes and rendered unconscious. He was pulled back to the surface and revived. Cst. Mead then offered to descend into the well, but Cpl. Russell refused to let him go because of Mead’s physical stature and the small diameter of the shaft would have endangered his life. Russell then returned to the well a sixth time and succeeded in attaching a rope to Belrose’s body, but the rope slipped off. After a seventh trip into the gas filled well Russell, succeeded in retrieving the second body.

In recognition of his gallantry in risking his life in the slim hope that the victims might be saved and entering a well filled with poisonous gas fumes that could cave-in, Corporal Russell was awarded the rarely-conferred Kings Police and Fire Medal in November 1947.

Hugh Cecil Russell joined the RCMP in 1933 and retired as a Superintendent in 1968.

1962– Marine section members #22138 Corporal John Ernest Samuel Bragg and #24323 Constable Leo Alexander Batherson were awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for bravery after they rescued two men from a sinking vessel in Malaspina Straits, BC during hazardous storm conditions.