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

April 3rd

1898-A landslide on the Chilkoot Pass kills 72 people who are attempting to climb the pass on their way to the Yukon Gold Rush. #003 Inspector Robert Belcher leads his men down the slide to assist with the recovery and identification of the victims.

1956– #15347 Constable Henry “Bud” Johnstone and #17200 Corporal Al Beach responded to a bank alarm at the Cariboo Trail Shopping Centre in Coquitlam, BC. As Johnstone entered the bank during the robbery, he was shot at several times by members of the Banks Brothers Gang. Corporal Beach who was in position outside returned fire and killed gang member Herbert Howerton. #18031 Constable Bert Schroeder arrived on the scene as back-up and arrested gang members; William Banks, Howard Folster and William Gordon.

April 2nd

1885– Shortly before dawn Cree War Chief named “Wandering Spirit” (“Kapapamahchakwew,Papamahchakwayo,) also known as Esprit Errant; along with seven other Cree warriors’ attacked the settlement at Frog LakeSaskatchewan. Having been exposed to the ideas of Louis Riel, and resentful of the local Indian Agent, Thomas Trueman Quinn’s policy of “no work, no rations”, he and his raiding party trashed the Hudson Bay Post and police barracks. 

When Quinn refused to be moved to the Cree encampment “Wandering Spirit” shot him in the head and ordered the death of all of the whites. Eight more people, sawmill operator John Gowanlock, farming instructor John Delaney, Catholic priests Rev. Leon Fafard and Felix Marchand, clerk William Gilchrist, trader George Dill, carpenter Charles Gouin, and John Wolliscroft, Father Fafard’s lay assistant were then killed. The only three survivors;William Bleasdell Cameron, Theresa Gowanlock and Theresa Delaney were takenprisoner.

Wandering Spirit along with Bad Arrow (Manchoose), Iron Body (Nahpase), Little Bear (Apischaskoos), Miserable Man (Kitahwahken), Walking the Sky (Pahpahmekeesick) was eventually captured and hanged on November 27, 1885 at Battleford, Saskatchewan, in what became the largest mass execution in Canadian history. 1942– Columbia Pictures releases the movie “North of the Rockies” (also known as “Royal Canadians”) starring Bill Elliott as Sergeant Bill Cameronand Tex Ritteras American lawmanTex Martin.

Both men are after a gang of men who are smuggling furs across the border. When the villain Morgan sets up Tex to be found with furs, the Mountie arrests him for smuggling. But he lets him go hoping Tex will lead him to his gang. Eventually the two lawmen join forces and capture the really bad guys.

Making an appearance in the movie as Constable McDowell is a young Lloyd Bridges who is in his second Mountie Movie. (the first being “the Royal Mounted Patrol” in 1941)

1967– Retired Mountie murdered by neighbor.

Johannes E. Nyman a friend and neighbor of a retired Mountie #7905 Howard Rayner came over to his house and asked him to phone a doctor because Nyman’s landlady was ill and then went back home. The elderly retired constable who had served in the Force from 1919 – 1922 made the phone call and shortly thereafter the distraught neighbour returned and said that if doctor didn’t come soon, he would shoot Rayner. 

A few minutes later he arrived back at Rayner’s armed with a rifle and shot through the door killing Rayner. The neigbours heard the shot and phoned the Kimberly Detachment and shortly thereafter policemen arrived at the scene and found themselves being shot at by Nyman. The police returned fire and Nyman and after he was wounded by #17810 Eldon Rodger, #23870 Constable Donald Butler rushed the wounded gunman and tackled him. Eight months later Nyman was sentenced to six years for manslaughter.
1974– Honour Roll Numbers 148 and 149.Constable #28371 Constable Joseph Michel Benoit Letourneau age 23 and #29978 Constable Joseph Henri Clément Tremblay age 21 were killed in a police motor vehicle accident at St. Etienne des Gras, Quebec.

Constable Letourneau was driving an unmarked police car in a snowstorm on Highway 55 a few miles south of Shawinigan, Quebec. With him was his partner from the Trois Rivieres Detachment, Constable Clément Tremblay. As Letourneau attempted to pass a moving school bus his car became hindered by the heavy slush in the center of the road and as he tried to get back into the right lane they were hit head-on by an approaching tow truck. The collision spun their car around into path of the school bus and both men were crushed between the two larger vehicles. Fortunately, no one was injured in other vehicles, but both members killed.

ConstableLetourneau was survived by his wife Marie and was buried at Saint Georges Ouest in Beauce, Quebec. Constable Tremblay was buried at the St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in Chicoutimi, Quebec.

 1986– Commanding Officers Commendations were presented to #17550 / O.1018 Inspector S.G. McNaughton, Sergeants #23631 Donald Roy James, #24958 R.M.B. Crowhurst, #28326 Corporal P.W. Pitts and #32130 Constable C.A. Paley in recognition of their work on a major drug investigation that resulted in the seizure of 13 tons of Hashish.

 1990– Former Commissioner William Leonard Higgitt passed away at his home in Ottawa. He first joined the RCMP on July 1, 1937 as a reserve constable #R/200 and became a regular member #12979 in September of the same year. Commissioned as Sub-Inspector #O.0435 in 1952 he rose quickly through the ranks becoming the Commissioner on October 1, 1969 and held the position until he retired in 1973.

1990 – Commendation issued to #40559 Lorne H. Adamitz for the arrest of an impaired and suicidal man north of Valleyview, Alberta.

April 1st

1884– Mounties put down mob riot on CPR line.While providing security on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad lie near Beaver Crossing, midway between Golden and Revelstoke B.C.#O.40 Superintendent Samuel Steele, #795 John Walters, #664 Frank Fane, #643 Thomas Craig and #333 William Fury. Had to face a mob when the when CPR workers rioted. The officers arrested one man, and constables Fane and Fury held back the mob as a rear guard while Walters and Craig escorted the prisoner to the police camp. When the armed crowd attempted to rush the police as they crossed a footbridge, Sam Steel armed with a rifle stood the mob down. The prisoner was later moved to Palliser east of Golden for safekeeping. He was fined $100 or 6 months in jail.1886– Lawrence William Herchmer becomes the fourth Commissioner and serves until July 31, 1900.

1918– The Alberta government declares total prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

1922– Honour Roll Number 45.#4396 Corporal William Andrew Doak age 39 was murdered by an Eskimo prisoner who was being held for murder, at Tree River, N.W.T.

William Doak had joined the RNWMP in 1905 as a Bugler and worked his way up to the rank of corporal, spending most of his career in the Arctic serving at Herschel Island and eventually at the remote outpost of Tree Island. This was a period of time when the local aboriginal communities were strife with feuds over the shortage of women and wife stealing was a common problem. The feuds often lead to murder and infanticide. Shortly before his death Cpl. Doak and Constable D.H. Woolams had arrested two Inuit for the murder of five people. The prisoners; Tatamagama and Alikomiak were being held in the cells at the Tree Island Detachment when Alikomiak managed to get out of his cell. He then stole a rifle and went into the Detachment and shot Cpl. Doak as he lay sleeping in his bed. After murdering Doak, Alikomiak waited in the detachment and when he saw Otto Binder, the local Hudson Bay Store manager approaching, he shot him dead as well. When Cst. Woolams heard the shooting he rushed in and managed to overpower the gunman and take the rifle away from him.

Both William Doak and Otto Binder were buried at Tree River and Tatamagama and Alikomiak were later convicted for multiple murders and hanged at Hesrchel Island on February 1, 1924.

1923– Commissioner A. Bowen Perry retires having been the Commissioner of the RNWMP and the RCMP for 23 years. He is replaced by Cortlandt Starnes as the sixth permanent Commissioner who serves until July 31, 1931.

1935 – The town of Flin Flon, Manitoba becomes the first municipality in Canada to contract the RCMP to provide municipal policing. The terms of the five-year contract stipulated that a three-man force would be maintained in the municipality in return for an annual payment of $3,000.

1932– RCMP absorbs provincial police forces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Alberta and the Preventive Service.

1947– The RCMP Marine Division is created.

1949– Newfoundland joins confederation and the RCMP assumes responsibility for federal policing. Sixteen months later the RCMP assumes responsibility for provincial policing as well and absorbs the Newfoundland Rangers into the RCMP.

1959– Charles Edward Rivett-Carnac agrees to delay retiring and become the tenth permanent Commissioner and serves one year.

1960– Montreal born, #8758 Clifford Walter Harvison becomes the eleventh Commissioner. Replacing C. Rivett-Carnac who had been Commissioner for only one year having delayed his retirement when his predecessor Commissioner L. H. Nicholson resigned in protest. Commissioner Harvison retired on October 31, 1963 and later published a book on his career entitled “The Horsemen”.

1970– The rank of “Marine Constable” is discontinued.

1974– The rank of “Sub Inspector” was discontinued.1976– The St. John Ambulance Meritorious Certificate was awarded to #31265 Constable Alexander D. Wilson. He found Mr S. Raposo semi-conscious in a partially submerged car that had been involved in an accident near Edson, Alberta. Constable Wilson entered the water and held the victims head out of water while applying a pressure dressing to the man’s severed arm. After the victim was transported to the hospital by ambulance, Wilson recovered the severed arm and rushed it to hospital.

March 31st

1959 – Despite Premier Joey Smallwood’s request for additional RCMP reinforcements to deal with a massive strike that had resulted in the death of Royal Newfoundland Constabulary constable William Moss. Prime Minister Diefenbaker refuses to allow the RCMP to send in the additional reinforcements and as a result of being overruled then Commissioner L. H. Nicholson resigned in protest.

1991– The Commissioners Commendation for Bravery was awarded to #40132 Constable Kerry Petryshyn for rescuing an elderly confused woman from her burning house in St Stephen, N.B. The woman was Raili Ganong, a well-known member of the Ganong Chocolate family. 

1998 – Two Commissioners Commendations for Bravery were issued to #30383 Corporal Wayne Plimmer and #43253 Constable Phillip Sullivan, members of the “E” Division (British Columbia) Underwater Recovery Team. The award was in recognition of the two divers risking their lives while searching under an ice-covered sewage lagoon for young boy who had fallen through.  The child was found but he died later in hospital.

March 30th

1874– Louis Riel sneaks into the House of Commons and manages to get himself sworn in as a Member of Parliament without being discovered even thou he is wanted for the murder of Thomas Scott and has a $5000 reward for his capture.

1895– The Royal Canadian Humane Society Bronze Medal was awarded to #2976 Cst Linley Trustram for saving a man from drowning. While Constable Trustram along with another member and a civilian Mr. McEwen were fording the Milk River in a heavy wagon with a trailing buckboard, the wagon lurched into hole, tipping all three men into the water. McEwen could not swim and was saved by Constable Trustam.

1974– Staff Sergeants #18283 Jack C. Lee-Knight and # 18302 Kasimir “Bill” Klama received a special honour when Former Prime Minister John Deifenbaker presented them with their Long Service Medals.

1980– Around 9:00 Constables #33984 R.C. Steward and #34064 / O.1994 S.B. Burke responded to a report of a woman down in North Battleford Saskatchewan. Upon their arrival they found an elderly woman who was not breathing and had no pulse. The two policemen immediately performed CPR and succeeded in reviving the lady shortly before an ambulance arrived. Credited with saving her life the two policemen were awardedMeritorious Certificates from Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.

2003– The Commanding Officer’s Commendation was awarded to #37492 / O.2079 Inspector Peter Clark for outstanding performance during 2002 G8 Summit conference in Kananaskis Alberta. The G8 Summit was one of the largest security operations ever provided by the RCMP and was made more difficult due to the fact that it was held in a remote wilderness area.

2003– The Commissioners Commendation for Bravery was awarded to #47938 Pamela Francis and #48393 Craig Beson for preventing a suicidal man with knife from harming himself or others at Fort McMurray, Alberta.

March 29th

1974– Honour Roll Number 147.

#29984 Constable Roger Emile Pierlet age 23 was murdered during a routine vehicle checkin Cloverdale BC.

Two demented criminals; John Miller and Vincent Cockriell, spent the night drinking and ranting about how much they hated the police. Eventually they decided they should go and kill a policeman and left Millers house in nearby Langley and hopped in their 1964 Dodge and drove to nearby Cloverdale. There they drew attention to themselves by squealing their tires, throwing a bottle through a window of the Justice Building and driving erratically. 

After stopping their car on 176thStreet and radioing his location and the suspect licence plate number Cst. Pierlet approached the vehicle. As he spoke to the driver John Miller, Vincent Cockriell shot him in the chest with a 30-30 lever action rifle. As the murderers sped away Cst. Pierlet crawled back to his car and collapsed on the ground.

Pierlet’s backup officer #27648 Cst. William J. Mead found Pierlet within minutes, but he was too late to save him. He quickly radioed for an ambulance and alerted the detachment members that Pierlet had been shot. Several roadblocks were quickly set up in area and the suspect car was soon found. A dangerous high-speed chase ensued with speeds reaching over 120 miles per hour and the suspect’s plowing through a roadblock. The chase continued onto the Port Mann Freeway before the car was finally rammed off the road by Csts. #27652 Larry Misner and #29646 Blaine Everett. The cowardly murders quickly surrendered and were taken into custody.

Miller and Cockriell were charged with murder, convicted and sentenced to hang but in 1976 the death penalty was abolished so their sentences were changed to life imprisonment. By 1995, Cockriell was already receiving day passes from prison!

Adding to the tragedy Cst. Pierlet’s parents arrived in Vancouver later the same day for a visit with their son only to be met at the airport and advised of his murder. After a massive funeral service Roger Emile Pierlet wasburied at the RCMP Cemetery in, Regina, Saskatchewan.

1978– Commanding Officers Commendations awarded to Constables #27577 Gary Buss and #29982 Mike Barrett at Penticton, B.C. for alerting the occupants of an apartment building that had caught on fire. All of the occupants were able to get out safely except for one. The members entered the blaze and rescued the one remaining occupant. 

1990– Any landing you survive is a good landing!

#33880 Cpl. Peter Markgraaf was piloting a RCMP Beaver airplane CF-MPE when it crashed on takeoff from Fort Ware. Though the airplane was destroyed in the crash both the pilot and his passenger walked away with minor injuries.

2002– Honour Roll Number199.

#45528 Constable Wael Toufic Audi,age 29 was killed on the treacherous Highway #99 “The Sea to Sky Highway” near Squamish, BC when he attempted to complete a U turn in his unmarked patrol car.

After identifying a speeding vehicle Cst. Audi activated his emergency equipment with the intent of pursuing the violator. As he began the turn the car following him slowed down, but a tour bus pulled out and passed the slower vehicle and broad sided the police car killing him on impact.

Constable Audi was a five-year member of the RCMP.

March 28th

1964 –Tidal Wave hits Port Alberni BC

1983– Three members of the WhitehorseYukon Detachment responded to an emergency call involving a woman floating in the water and ice of the Yukon River.  #17964 Staff Sergeant John William Pringle, #29522 Corporal Robert AlexanderWheadon, and #30795 Robert PeterDunlap rushed to the river’s edge and saw a woman floating near the edge of the ice. They immediately jumped onto an ice floe and attempted to rescue her. Cst. Dunlap was the first to reach her and he tried to pull the woman out of the water with a long pole, but due to her hypothermic condition she was unable to hold on and then disappeared under the ice. Risking to their own lives the three men probed the soft ice searching for the woman. Eventually, her blue jacket was seen through the thinner ice and S/Sgt. Pringle smashed a hole in the ice and caught hold of her and with the help of Cpl. Wheadon and Cst. Dunlap the men pulled the unconscious woman onto the ice. They immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation and continued resuscitating her until she regained consciousness. In recognition of their bravery all three men were awarded the Medal of Bravery.

1987 – Onthis day Constable #36440 Evan Graham was dispatched to a report of a drunken woman who was firing a rifle into the air in the community of Tuktoyaktuk NWT. When he arrived on scene, he discovered that the suspect was very drunk, standing in the middle of a frozen pond and was swinging a rifle around in the air. Constable Graham then realized that the women was, a former matron who had worked at the local detachment and this spot was where her daughter had been killed by an impaired snowmobiler a few years earlier. When she saw the policeman, she looked at him, pointed the rifle at me and yelled out “one of you f***ing Mounties is going to die”. Constable Graham was alone without backup and saw her try to rack a bullet into the chamber of the bolt action rifle, but the bullet jammed in the rifle. As she struggled to remove the bullet the policeman used the opportunity to rush out onto the ice and tackle her. After prying the weapon from her she was taken into custody without any further incidents.

A year later Constable Evan Graham was presented a Commissioner’s Commendation for his actions.