RCMP Members Raise the Dead To Recognition

 

 

 

 

Across Canada Veterans walk through cemeteries!

 

 

 

 

Many of us will recall from our early days on detachment life, once a year, what then seemed to be an old grizzled NCO i/c, would pull an Administrative file and tell his junior member to go out and check on the graves of members buried in their detachment area. If they were not in ship shape condition, that junior member would clean up the grave site, cut the grass and pull the weeds. What ever needed to be done. Those days are long gone. Those Administrative files no longer exist at detachments.

Thanks to Joe Healy and his RCMP Graves Web Site and many other retired RCMP Veterans, friends of the Force, family members, many undiscovered graves, marked and unmarked, have been found of former members of the Force. Often member’s markers are not connected to the Force, by choice, or the deceased served during the South African Wars or WWI and WW II their marker reflects that, which adds the problem of identifying their resting place.

In the past year Vancouver Division member Murray Macham, Reg # 26613, discovered the grave site of former Commissioner Herchmer at the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. The grave had been vandalized and had fallen on hard times with the passing of time. Murray, with the help of others cleaned up the grave – CHECK OUT THE WEBPAGE HERE 

A refreshed Herchmer grave marker.  Thanks to Murray Macham and friends.

Living in Abbotsford I decided to search out the graves of members buried in the city, creating a list of twenty-one names and the four cemeteries they are buried in. Many of the graves on Joe’s web site indicate plot number and row #. This should be easy!

Picking the smallest, the Old Mount Lehman Cemetery, there is only one grave, it is unmarked, but the plot # and row # are given. I thought I would do my best to find the grave site of George Mott, Reg # 1988, NWMP, who died in 1931. Once there I find it is a beautiful location and well maintained….not a bad place to rest ones’ weary bones when it comes time. But, no luck, George Mott’s grave is truly unmarked and probably it has sunk considerably over the years. I did find one grave marker quite by accident of a member whose grave was not on Joe Healy’s web site…it is now! A minor success on my part. Next stop was the Hazelwood Cemetery the largest in Abbotsford. With list in hand, complete with row #s and plot #s and a nice day for a walk, once again, mistakenly, I thought this should be easy. No row #s or plot #s are visible. Checking with staff on site, they are not much help. This is not a one-man job! I have come quickly to the realization you have to enlist the aide of the folks in the city who deal with cemeteries. For me this will be a work in progress.

More Veterans step up and go for a walk about in their local cemetery!

Veteran Maria Nickel, Reg # 34007, and her husband, Orv Nickel, Reg # 27156 who can see the Boundary Bay Cemetery from their home have taken over the responsibility for maintaining the grave sites for RCMP members interred in the Boundary Bay Cemetery in Tsawwassen. Maria had obtained a list from Joe Healy identifying the five known graves of members interred at Boundary Bay Cemetery.

She met with the Corporation of Delta’s “cemetarian” (his actual title)! He provided her with the Block and Lot numbers for each known grave and explained how to go about locating them.
Maria and Orv went to the cemetery one day and searched out the individual graves and recorded their GPS coordinates. They then returned with cleaning supplies and gardening tools and cleaned each stone. They found the gardening was exceptionally good in the cemetery so any pruning required was minimal.

After cleaning the stones, they photographed each one for inclusion/updating in the RCMP Graves database maintained by Joe Healy.

Maria Nickel caring for a newly discovered grave site

The Boundary Bay Cemetery has over 2600 documented internments and many others which are unmarked. The Corporation of Delta maintains that for privacy reasons they are unable to share the official list of internments. However, a very ambitious lady documented the cemetery and photographed each headstone. Maria was able to locate her list on the internet!

Maria is presently checking each name on that list against Joe Healy’s database and is excited to report that she has already located an additional six internments of RCMP members after having only queried the A and J names so far.

Maria adds this personal comment: “I think it is important that members be reminded of the benefit available to them of having an RCMP granite headstone (flat or upright granite), or columbarium plaque paid for through the RCMP. The Pay and Benefits office handles those inquiries. Perhaps a copy of the policy requirements would appropriate to include here for information to all.

Regards

Maria”

Bravo Zulu” to Maria and Orv for taking on this responsibility!

Recently, it was brought to my attention that former member of the NWMP, Inspector Montague Henry White-Fraser, O.50A, is buried in an unmarked grave besides his wife’s marked grave in the Old Agassiz Cemetery. He was destitute when he died in 1927 and the Vancouver Division of the RNWMP Veterans’ Association was given a grant of $75.00 from the Benefit Trust Fund to assist in White-Fraser’s burial next to his wife. As part of the upcoming 150th anniversary celebrations of Agassiz the old cemetery is being cleaned up and part of that is an effort to get a marker for White-Fraser’s unmarked grave. Interestingly, there is one other member of the NWMP buried in the cemetery and there is a headstone to mark his grave.

The grave site of Mrs. White-Fraser which appears to have fallen upon hard times and apparent vandalism.

Historical Note: Although the exact date has, so far, been lost to history, it was generally accepted that it was during the early 1900’s that a system of consecutive numbers for officers was introduced. For officers then in the Force, or officers who had previously served and left, the number was assigned retroactively.
The numbering system was, for those officers who joined with a commission, based upon the date of the member’s appointment to the Force or, for those men promoted from the ranks, the date of his promotion to the commissioned ranks. However, that criterion was not followed in a number of cases. One example was Commissioner G. A. French; he was allotted number O.1 when in fact, he was the eleventh officer appointed to the NWMP. When the Officer Numbers were allotted, four former officers were overlooked. It has been suggested that resulted from the incompleteness of early records however, all of the Orders-in-Council covering the officers’ appointments during the period in question remain intact and there was no doubt they were available at the time the list was first compiled. When the errors were discovered, the numbering system was modified. Interestingly, numbers were allotted to only two of the three officers – Commissioner (Temporary) W. O. Smith, (who should have been O.1), was assigned O.2 ½; Quartermaster C. Nicolle was assigned O.23½ and Inspector M. H. White-Fraser was assigned O.50 A.
As Maria Nickel pointed out members are entitled to a Regimental headstone provided by the RCMP if they died while serving or are receiving a pension. I contacted “E” Division HQs and spoke with Lureina Blanchard the person responsible for grave markers for members of “E” Division. She has been very supportive in dealing with my request that the Force provide a marker for White-Fraser. There are a couple interesting things about this process: 1. White-Fraser only served 13 years and was seeking a medical discharge, but the Force did away with his position which made him eligible for a pension, which qualifies him for a Force provided head stone. 2) the division where the deceased member last worked in is responsible for the cost of the marker. White-Fraser last worked at Maple Creek, “A” Division, North West Territories in 1897, it makes it a bit of a challenge as to who pays. Maple Creek today is in the Province of Saskatchewan. “A” Division no longer exists. With the help of Ms. Blanchard, a request is being forwarded onto the decision makers to have the RCMP fund White-Fraser’s grave marker.
Should you ever have any questions regarding whether you can have a grave maker provided by the RCMP below is the all the contact information needed.

Lureina Blanchard

Administrative Support Clerk
HR Branch
Employee & Management Relations Section
RCMP E Division HQ, Mailstop #1103
14200 Green Timbers Way
Surrey, BC Canada V3T 6P3
Phone: 778-290-2671
Fax: 778-290-6068
Lureina.Blanchard@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

You can also refer to the RCMP Veterans’ Association “Guide for Survivors and Executors”.

I have dealt with Staff Sergeant Beth McAndie of Surrey Detachment on several different areas of common interest. The topics of graves came up. She has jumped right on board. Surrey Detachment’s Traffic Section has agreed to take on the task of finding the 102 graves located in the city’s cemeteries, document their condition, photograph them and provide a report back on their success.

Should any member of our division wish to take a walk through a cemetery they can contact me and I can explain how they can obtain a list of known gravesites of members in a particular cemetery.

 

Ric Hall 24394/O.1330
2017-11-01

 

 

 

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