Vancouver Division’s Gravesite Inspection Initiative

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The history of Force Veterans conducting gravesite inspections dates back to a Macleod Gazette newspaper article published on May 17, 1901 which was submitted by NWMP Veterans who wanted to organize an association:

 

 

 

 

This news articles outlined some fundamental principles which has continues to this day:

Comrades – At the nearest request of ex-members of the Force residing in nearly every section the N.W. Territores, your comrades of the Calgary District deem it a duty and a pleasure to invite you to co-operate with them in organizing an ex-N.W.M.P. Association on the following basis:

1 – Preserve and strengthen those friendly and fraternal feelings which bound us together while members of the N.W.M.P., and to perpetuate the memory and history of the part played by the Force in the settlement of the North-West Territories and in establishing therein a proper system  of law, order and government.

2 – To extend needful aid to such comrades as may be disabled by accidents, wounds or sickness.

3- To see that the funerals of deceased comrades are conducted with due respect and ceremony.

4- To care for the widows and orphans of deceased comrades.

5 – To see that the graves of deceased comrades are kept in decent condition.

6 – To assist deserving comrades in getting employment, where necessary.

7 – To protect and forward the individual and collective interest of all comrades, and for other reasons which will, no doubt, occur to you all.”

The conducting of grave site inspections is a means of showing respect for the contributions of our past Veterans.  We all have a vested interest in the grave inspection initiative as one day someone will be inspecting our grave marker.

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To assist in the identification of Veteran grave markers, all Veterans should ask their families for a RCMP regimental grave marker or to ensure it contains a crest of the Force.  Details about Force regimental grave markers can be found here.

Many other Veteran Divisions have established a regular inspection program such as:

Some of these inspections have discovered disturbing conditions of Veteran grave markers.  Veterans Divisions work with the respective cemetery managers and the Force to address deficiencies.

Photograph of a NWMP members gravesite with a missing top portion of the grave marker..

Photograph of a NWMP members gravesite with a missing top portion of the grave marker..

Photograph a rabbit hole on a RCMP Veteran's gravesite (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles)

Photograph a rabbit hole on a RCMP Veteran’s gravesite (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

For the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Veteran Murray Macham has volunteered to coordinate grave site inspections.  At present, he has group of volunteers assisting in this endeavour.  If you are interested in assisting, please email Murray at mmacham@telus.net

One of the disappointing gravesite inspections conducted by Murray was that of the late Commissioner Lawrence William Herchmer who is laid to rest in the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, B.C.  Murray has provided the following photograph of the Herchmer grave marker.  Special noted when viewing this image is that the grave marker base is white marble and the marble cross has been broken off.

Photograph of the grave marker for former Commissioner Laurence Herchmer. Note that the top of the marker has been broken off. Photo taken by Veteran Steve Gibson.

Photograph of the grave marker for former Commissioner Laurence Herchmer. Note that the top of the marker has been broken off. Photo taken by Veteran Steve Gibson.

Murray worked with the cemetery manager Dennis Fabbro to clean up the Herchmer grave marker but it still is in need of repair.

Each grave maker highlights the burial location of a Force Veteran who contributed in their small part to the reputation of the Force – one of the few police forces in the world recognized as a national symbol of a country.  In the case of Commissioner Herchmer, his contributions are summarized below:

Photograph of NWMP Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer.

Photograph of NWMP Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer.

Lawrence William Herchmer was born on April 24, 1840 and was appointed to the position of Commissioner of the North West Mounted Police on April 1, 1866 by the Canadian Prime Minister Sir. John A. MacDonald.  Lawrence’s experience as a soldier, businessman and Indian agent was considered appropriate skills needed as the new Commissioner.   At the time of becoming the new Commissioner, the Force was experiencing some serious internal problems: men were poorly trained; lacked discipline; and lack organization.  He was responsible for many changes and his management style was not appreciated by all. With the outbreak of the Boer War, he volunteered to lead the Canadian Mounted Rifle Regiment and was removed from the position of Commissioner while he was in South Africa.  He was replaced by Commissioner Bowen Perry. On February 17, 1915, Lawrence passed away.  You can read more about Lawrence William Herchmer here.

Murray Macham closing block

 

 

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