Retired Richmond Mountie Recalls Justice Being Served in a Day

RCMP Veterans’ Association

Veterans Helping Veterans and Their Families

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Regina Division Member

John Leitch, the Treasurer of Regina Division has drawn attention to a 2015 article that appeared in the Richmond News Tabloid about Regina Division member (now resident in Richmond, B.C.) Wally P. Tyrrell.

Saskatchewan justice in the 1950’s was not what it is today!

Please enjoy and thanks to John for pointing this out.

James Forrest
Director of Communications
RCMP Veterans’ Association 

Walter Tyrrell’s uniform from the ’50s is on display at the Richmond RCMP headquarters.

Alan Campbell
Richmond News
DECEMBER 2, 2015 01:36 PM

It’s often remarked how fast life moves nowadays. 

Emails, cell phones, the Internet and apps, however, have nothing on the lightning speed of police work deep in Saskatchewan in the 1950s.

Forget the excruciating months, and sometimes years, waiting for minor cases to reach a conclusion in our courts today.  Imagine, if you will, a scene where a Mountie, the accused and a justice of the peace(JP) all meet in the back of the accused’s vehicle and the case is concluded within five minutes.

Decorated retired Mountie Walter Tyrrell, 89, can picture it, quite clearly, as it happens. “There was something called swift justice back then,” said Tyrrell, who has clocked up more than 16,000 hours of volunteering (equating to seven years), mostly for Richmond RCMP in the last 14 years.

“Someone was arrested, charged, plead and be judged, all in the same day.”

“There were many times when we had an ‘open court’ in the back of a tractor. The farmer would be charged by me for a vehicle offence of some kind; he would plead guilty; the JP would fine him $25 and that would be the end of it. That was very common in those parts.”

Conspicuous by their absence back in the day were lawyers, added Albertan native Tyrrell. Typical crimes, recalled Tyrrell, were theft of cattle and meat and safe-blowing in stores with nitro-glycerine and plasticene. 

“There were safe-punchers as well; they would knock the dial off and then it would be so easy to open the safe door at places such as JJ Taylor’s.  It was a manufacturer’s flaw,” described Tyrrell.

The Mounties were armed in the ‘50s with a “455;” which was a “big weapon,” according to Tyrrell.

“Then they gave us a Smith and Weston 38 Special. But I rarely carried a gun in those days, as I was often going out to see a farmer about a theft of some wheat or something; there was no need for guns. On night patrols I carried my gun, though. But there were no radios in those days either.”

Tyrrell remembers having four “Indian reserves” on his vast beat to look after.  No one, he said, had “ever gone out there before me. But I wanted to introduce myself.”

Meanwhile, in the town of Moose Jaw, heroin use was a problem in the early ‘50s, said Tyrrell.

After a spell in Yorkton, by 1967, the now Sgt. Tyrrell was in Regina, working in the “Investigators Special Section” and was by then a qualified private pilot. In 1971, he was transferred to the Vancouver area and was promoted again to Staff Sgt.

“In B.C., though, it was mostly drugs and more dangerous crimes we were dealing with,” said Tyrrell, who retired from the RCMP on May 10, 1976 and then plunged himself into the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadrons, which harkened back to his life as a 16-year-old in the Australian Air Corps, after his family had moved from Alberta.

In 2001, Tyrrell began volunteering at Richmond RCMP’s YVR community police station and he’s been there ever since, getting up at 5 a.m. to start his shift at 6.30 a.m., which lasts until 2 p.m.

At the station, Tyrrell happily mans the front desk, answers the phones and helps out the regular members wherever possible.

He was recently commended officially for his voluntary contributions by the Mounties’ Commanding Officer in B.C., Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens.

Tyrrell said he “didn’t do it for glory,” but to be around people. However, Tyrrell will be calling it a day at YVR, as the unit is moving into the domestic terminal in March and there will no longer be a voluntary position. But, even at 89, it’s not the end of the road for Tyrrell. “I’m going to work at the Steveston Community police station to do a similar role.  I think there will be a lot more people coming and going at that station, so that should suit me fine,” said Tyrrell, who said he prefers not to be alone, especially since losing his wife five years ago. “And it’s walking distance from my home.”

Asked if he’d do anything different, given the chance to be a Mountie again, Tyrrell said, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” 

Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens awards Walter Tyrrell  for his volunteer contribution to the RCMP.

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