Winnipeg Police Service Colours
Proudly honouring our past, leading us into the futureProudly displayed in the front entrance of the Winnipeg Police Headquarters at 245 Smith Ave. is the Winnipeg Police Service Colours.
This is a visual representation of the eight Winnipeg Police Service members who have fallen in the line of duty. The Winnipeg Police Service was the first municipal force in Canada to adopt the custom of Service Colours, mirroring the military tradition of honouring battles in which military units lost personnel. The Winnipeg Police Service Colours honour memory of members who were lost in the line of duty.
The Colours were originally presented to the Winnipeg Police Service on Feb. 19, 1999 by Lt. Governor Yvon Dumont. Winnipeg was also the first police agency in Canada to be presented with colours by the Queen's representative.
As then-Chief Jack Ewastki noted at the time:
"The Bible says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Bernard E. Snowden, John Verne, Charles Gillis, John McDonald, James E. Sims, Leonard Shakespeare, and Ronal E. Houston all laid down their lives. They gave them in the cause of justice and peace. We must always remember them and ensure their sacrifice was not in vain. Our colours honour their memory.
While it is absolutely essential that we remember our roots, no organization can survive by living solely in the past. I believe these seven heroes would say to us, look to the future and look to it with pride. We have much to be proud of. Our Colours provide us with a focus son that pride."
Here is a brief synopsis of the Winnipeg Police Officers who have fallen in the line of duty, along with links to learn more of these men and their sacrifice:
- Const. John Beattie was electrocuted on April 13, 1911. He had entered the burned building at Main & Water about 4:00 am, with firemen, and inadvertently grabbed a live wire after the insulation had burned off.
- Const. Bernard E. Snowden was found murdered on April 6, 1918. He had failed to report twice on the call box, and a check of his beat (Main Street between Rupert & Higgins) located him at about 1:30 am within Rosenblatt’s Hardware and Clothing store He had been shot in the back at close range, when he walked into a Break-in in progress. Two of the three murderers were hanged for this crime.
- Sgt. John Verne was shot on July 24, 1934. At about 8:15 am after responding to a robbery at the Norbridge Pharmacy, Verne saw the suspect fleeing in a vehicle. A short vehicle chase ensued and Verne pulled over the getaway vehicle near Main St & Water. The suspect got out of the vehicle and shot twice at Verne’s stomach at close range. Verne died later at St. Boniface Hospital. The murderer was hanged for this crime.
- Const. Charles Gillis was shot on Feb. 7, 1936, At about 7:15 pm Gillis and his partner George Blow responded to a hold up at the service station at Donald & St. Mary. As they gave chase, the suspect turned and fired a single shot at the stomach of Gillis. He died of septic poisoning two weeks after being shot. The murderer was hanged for this crime.
- Const. John McDonald was shot and killed on Feb 10, 1940. McDonald and his partner, Norm Stewart were on stakeout in the Manitoba Motor League offices, 120 Fort St, when it was broken into about 9:00 pm. Fearing that the suspects would hear them, they did not call for backup but confronted the suspects. McDonald was shot twice, and died instantly. The suspect committed suicide as police were attempting to arrest him. on Feb. 10, 1940. Const. McDonald and his partner attempted to arrest three suspects who then opened fire on the officers. One suspect attempted to flee and Const. McDonald pursued. He was subsequently shot in the head during the pursuit, dying instantly.
- Det. Sgt. James E. Sims was shot on July 16, 1950. Sims had attended a domestic call with A/Dets Jack Peachell and William Anderson at 19 Argyle St just after midnight. As Sims attempted to talk to the suspect, he was shot by both barrels of a shotgun. He would later in the day succumb to the injuries. The suspect was hanged for his crime.
- Const. Leonard Shakespeare was shot on July 18, 1969. at about 11:00 pm he and his partner Const. Lyn Giles were responding to an alarm at White’s Loco-Mart Store, Provencher & DesMeurons, when they pulled up beside a taxi in front of the store. The suspect exited the cab and fired a shot at Shakespeare who had exited the cruiser. He fell to the ground and the suspect ran up to him, firing a second shot. He then turned to Giles, but after firing twice the gun jammed, and he was subdued. Although with three other suspects at the robbery, only the shooter was convicted and sentenced to hang. His death sentence was commuted to life in prison, and he died in custody.
- Det. Ronald E. Houston was stabbed on June 27, 1970. Houston and his partner, Det John DeGroot were on stakeout at 399 Stradbrook Ave, looking for a serial rapist. At about 2:00 am a suspect was seen in the adjoining yard, and as the officers attempted to arrest him, DeGroot was stabbed in the chest, and Houston fatally in the heart. The suspect was convicted, and sentenced to hang, although his sentence was commuted to life. Upon release, he committed suicide.
While it is absolutely essential that we remember our roots, no organization can survive by living solely in the past, we continue to look to the future as we continue to serve Winnipeg with pride. We do so knowing our Colours provide us with a focus on that pride. We pledge to you that we will do our best to work and live to the values they represent.