Dedication Service Held for Officer Killed in Notorious Event

ValleyBiz Story |

A dedication service was held June 19, 2017 to honour Constable William Wainwright who lost his life in the line of duty on October 5, 1935 in Pelly, SK. Wainwright was a 10 year veteran of the Village of Benito Police.

A plaque in memory of Wainwright was unveiled at the Benito Recreation Centre grounds. The project was initiated by Wayne Mirrlees, a Retired RCMP Officer and member of RCMP Veterans Association, dedicated to honoring police officers who have lost thier lives in the line of duty.

The story leading up to and following Wainwright’s death is harrowing tale of bank robbery, murder, fugitives, shootouts and bravery. The incident took place over 3 provinces from October 5 – 8, 1935 killing 3 RCMP officers, 1 town Constable, and 3 suspects from an armed robbery. It remained the deadliest incident in RCMP history until the Mayerthorpe tragedy in 2005.

On October 5, 1935 Constable William (55) Wainwright and Constable John Shaw (39) a 3 year veteran of the RCMP Swan River Detachment arrested 3 male suspects for bank robbery and placed in the back of the police vehicle. During transport, the suspects attacked the officers. Shaw was stabbed and shot 3 times with a .32 calibre revolver and Wainwright was stabbed and shot with his own revolver. The suspects dumped the officers bodies in a slough where they would be discovered by a farmer two days later. On October 7th the three fugitives opened fire on 4 Mounties at Banff National Park. One of the suspects and two officers died in the gunfight that ensued. The two remaining suspects were located on October 8th. They were shot during a final exchange of fire and later died of their injuries.

Click here to read the full, detailed account of the incident.

“It is impossible to place yourself inside the RCMP vehicle where Contable Shaw and Wainwright were on that fateful night.”said Mirrlees after a brief account of the incident. “However, one can only imagine the chaos, the screaming, fighting, knife-weilding suspects and the sounds of gunshots inside that vehicle.”

“We are here today to recognize and honour Constable William Wainwright for his heroic efforts in his attempt to uphold the law of the country and keep us safe.” Mirrlees concluded. “He will not be forgotten.”

Other Speakers included Rick Wowchuk, MLA for Swan River, Brian Burick, Deputy Reeve of the Municipality of Swan Valley West and Bill Schneider, long time resident and Former Councillor and Mayor of the Village of Benito.

Dana Paull, Funeral Director with Paull Funeral home was also in attendance. It was Dana’s grandfather, George Paull, who was the local undertaker at the time of the event and was called to undertake the burial of Constable Wainwright. Wainwright is buried in the Benito Cemetery.

Pictured above, Swan River RCMP Constable Savannah Brant salutes the grave of Constable William Wainwright. Picture courtesy of Dana Paull.

Pat Ellingson, Benito Office Manager for Swan Valley West, extended special thanks to Wayne Mirrlees and his colleagues, the Local Urban District of Benito, Benito resident Bob Hamelin, Cement Works who donated the landscape rock, and Dennis Podolski who crafted the artificial rock on which the plaque is mounted for display.