On the Job
Accidental Death on the Job
Accidents happened, too, and often proved fatal. Horses and horsemanship was second nature to a Mounted Policeman, but in August 1890, Sergeant A.E. Montgomery was thrown from his horse at Prince Albert and died as a result. The same fate befell Constable W.T. Reading at Calgary in December of the same year. In May 1892, a horse fell on Constable H. Prahl and killed him, while Constable J.H. Kingscote was kicked in the head by his horse and died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Men were generally careful with their firearms. Accidental shootings were rare, but they did happen; in May 1882, Constable G.H. Johnston was shot by a fellow member.
Aside from death by natural causes or disease, drowning carried off no less than 15 members of the NWMP. Constable Claudius Hooley was a teamster when he was swept away in July 1880 in the swollen waters of the St. Mary River. Staff Sergeant Arthur Brooke, a 19-year veteran, drowned with two civilians while attempting to cross the Bow River near Gleichen, Alberta, in September 1903. Corporal T. Johnson, Constables N.M. Campbell, S.G. Heathcote and T.W. White all drowned while serving in the Yukon.
More than two dozen members of the NWMP died in the line of duty. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Honour Roll includes several men who died from drowning or other accidents, but eight were killed while serving in the North West Rebellion. Three were killed or died of their wounds at the opening skirmish of the Rebellion at Duck Lake on March 26, 1885: Constables Thomas Gibson, George Garrett and George Arnold. Three more fell at the Battle of Cut Knife Hill on May 2: Ralph Sleigh, Patrick Burke and H.T. Lowry.
Those murdered in the line of duty were, fortunately, few in number. Marmaduke Graburn was shot and killed by an unknown assailant in November 1879. Sergeant Colin Colebrook was killed in October 1895 by a disaffected young Cree by the name of Almighty Voice (see also Serving the Nation), who killed two more policemen, Corporal Charles Hocking and Constable John Kerr, in May 1897, before the NWMP ended his streak of terror.