Tribute: William Ross (Reg. #760) NWMP

Photograph of the B.C. Police Memorial in Victoria, B.C.

 

 

 

Detective Jonathan Sheldan of the Victoria Police Department has forward to us another one of his investigative reports for consideration for inclusion on the BC Law Enforcement Memorial.

His report is included below for your reading pleasure:

 

 

Final Investigative Report – North-West Mounted Police
Death – “Third Siding, BC” – 1895
Constable (#760) William ROSS

SYNOPSIS:

On the evening of December 31 , 1894, Constables (Reg. #760) William ROSS and (Reg. # 557) Ernest PERCIVAL received permission to travel from the Kicking Horse Pass Detachment to “Third Siding.” These detachments were in place specifically to police the construction line of the new railway and the purpose of the travel was for the alteration of issue clothing.

1890s - Photograph of Northwest Mounted Police members at Golden, BC (Source of photo - Library Archives of Canada)

1890s – Photograph of Northwest Mounted Police members at Golden, BC (Source of photo – Library Archives of Canada)

Constable John Ballendine (Reg. #420) had been disallowed for travel. The two constables departed on foot and when approximately five miles short of their destination, ROSS could continue no further. PERCIVAL left him covered by his own greatcoat to get to Third Siding and obtain rescue assistance. Those members located ROSS and brought him back to the Third Siding Detachment where he died some hours later.

ROSS had apparently previously frozen his foot prior to this travel during his service and that contributed to his inability to finish the distance. ROSS was buried in the Palliser, BC area however his remains were removed in 1956 and buried at the Canadian Legion Cemetery in Golden B.C. with a “Force” headstone.

THIRD SIDING/FIELD, BC

Field, BC was initially established as a base camp as part of the construction route for the
Canadian Pacific Railway. Initially simply called “Third Siding,” the encampment of tents and shacks grew and was renamed “Field” after American “potential” CPR investor Cyrus Field.

“E” Division of the North-West Mounted Police was tasked to provide policing in general along
the line of construction. This task was exacerbated by the nature of the remote area; the necessary roughness of those involved and the inevitable “camp followers” that were all too willing to liberate the workers from their pay at any opportunity.

1890 - Photograph of Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) member in trainingat "Depot" Division in Regina (Source of photo - Jack Randle)

1890 – Photograph of Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) member in trainingat “Depot” Division in Regina (Source of photo – Jack Randle)

CONSTABLE (#760) William ROSS (Reg. #760) – joined the North-West Mounted Police on the 19 of April 1882 at the age of 19 years.

His initial five year engagement was entered into at Toronto and he was believed to be from Yorkville, Ontario. Constable ROSS was posted to the “Mountain Detachment” of the North-West Mounted Police tasked to provide policing to the workers and camps set up along the path of the new railway construction. ROSS was posted to Kicking Horse as part of “E” Division of the North-West Mounted Police.

William ROSS, Ernest PERCIVAL (Reg. #557)  and a third constable, John Ballendine (Reg.# 420), had apparently gone to their Corporal (Kicking Horse Acting Detachment Commander) Superintendent Archibald McDonell (Officer #95) to obtain permission to travel to Third Siding.

The distance between the two detachment was reportedly 15 miles and the initial plan was to travel by train for the purpose of the alteration of clothing. Two of the three applicants received permission; the third (Ballendine) having had his permission cancelled due to “misbehavior.” The expected train did not ever arrive and the two remaining constables decided to travel on foot regardless.

At a distance of five miles away from their destination, ROSS could travel no further. He was left at the spot; PERCIVAL placing his own greatcoat over ROSS to help protect him from the cold. PERCIVAL hurried to Third Siding and made a report immediately causing a rescue party to go out on foot accompanied by a hand cart on the rail line.

Photograph of Northwest Mounted Police (NMWP) members wearing the uniform similar to what was worn by Constable William Ross (Source of photo - RCMP Historical Collections Unit - "Depot" Division)

Photograph of Northwest Mounted Police (NMWP) members wearing the uniform similar to what was worn by Constable William Ross (Source of photo – RCMP Historical Collections Unit – “Depot” Division)

The rescue party located ROSS however, he was now uncovered and had blood coming from his mouth and nose. ROSS was taken to Third Siding but that detachment had no doctor. A doctor was sent for and arrived later during the day of 1 January 1895. ROSS apparently never spoke from the time of his recovery until his death. The reports of that era state that ROSS had received “frozen feet” about two days earlier after getting wet during a patrol and seizure of liquor.

ROSS was described as “always attentive to his duties, of sober habits and a very hardy man.”

North-West Mounted Police Service records end with the cause of death listed as being frozen to death.

BC Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation Guidelines

All applications for officer’s names to be added to the BC Law Enforcement Memorial must:

Be received by the Foundation by June 1st yearly. This is to ensure adequate time for inscription.

Be accompanied by substantiating documentation wherever possible but when the
application is Historical (more than one year old) news accounts, coroner’s reports etc are recommended.

Applications must be approved by the Chief Constable/OIC of the respective agency although the researcher should be listed as agency contact.

All applications must follow the general guidelines as below:

1. The deceased must have been a sworn police or peace officer in British Columbia “on Law Enforcement Duties” and died as a result of an external influence.

2. The deceased must have been on duty at the time of death, or if off duty, acting in the capacity of a police or peace officer or the circumstances leading to the death must have been brought about because of the officer’s official status.

3. The deceased officer must have acted in good faith in doing everything that could have been reasonably expected.

4. Notwithstanding the above, any set of circumstances which led to the death of an officer, maybe considered.

5. The application must be approved by the organization or agency concerned and be submitted to “The BC Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation”.

Canadian Police & Peace Officers’ Memorial Guidelines:

1. The deceased must have been a sworn paid, full time peace officer in Canada serving as a regular member or employee of a federal, provincial, municipal law enforcement agency or service and died as a result of an external influence. (For greater clarity, this criteria does not include private agencies, auxiliary personnel or other volunteers)

2. The deceased must have been on duty at the time of death, or if off duty, acting in the capacity of a police or peace officer or the circumstances leading to the death must have been brought about because of the officer’s official status.

3. The deceased officer must have acted in good faith in doing everything that could have been reasonably expected.

4. Notwithstanding the above, any set of circumstances which led to the death of an officer, maybe considered.

5. The application must be approved by the organization concerned and submitted to “The Memorial”.

6. All sections are mandatory information. The submission will not be accepted unless all sections are completed.

CONCLUSION

According to the guidelines of the BC and Canadian Law Enforcement Memorials, Constable
Ross’s death fulfills all of the requirements for his name to be added. The entry will be:

Constable William Ross – 1895 – North-West Mounted Police

Closing block for Jonathan Sheldan - Victoria PD

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