Cst. Charles William REAY – October 6, 1955

Reg. # 15303, Cst. Charles William REAY

October 6, 1955 near Island Falls, Saskatchewan         Age: 27 years

Cst. REAY was born on November 21, 1928 at Camrose, Alberta to William & Gertrude REAY.  He was engaged in the Force at Edmonton, Alta. as a Special Constable Recruit (Reg. #9588) on May 15, 1947 and received his Basic Recruit Training at Depot Division, Regina as a member of ‘37’ Squad.  He later transferred to Rockcliffe, Ont. to complete his Basic training.  On September 1, 1948, he completed his basic training and engaged as a 3/Cst., Regimental No. 15303.  In the course of his seven year career was posted to eight different detachments in Manitoba; including Brandon, Winnipeg, Selkirk, Portage, Tuxedo, Fort William, Emerson, Dauphin.  On November 22,1952, he married Thothbjorg (Roberta) Guttormson of Poplar Park, Manitoba in the First Lutheran Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Daughter, Erla Francine REAY was born on April 1, 1953 at Dauphin, Manitoba.  He was transferred to Flin Flon Detachment, in northwestern Manitoba on the Saskatchewan border on April 11, 1953.  He was sent on a canoe patrol that required his crossing the Churchill River from the Island Falls Settlement on the west bank to the Sandy Bay Settlement on the east bank.  His mode of transportation was a 17 foot RCMP semi-freighter canoe powered with a five horsepower outboard motor.

At approximately 9:10 AM on Thursday morning, October 6, 1955, he got in the canoe, started the outboard motor and pulled away from the shore.  About 200 yards into the river, his motor stalled.  He attempted to restart it several times, but was unsuccessful.  In order to get more purchase on the starting cord, Cst. REAY stood up in the canoe and gave it a pull.  He lost his balance and fell overboard.  The canoe remained upright, but slowly drifted away from him in the current, two life preservers between its gunwales.  Cst. REAY was a fair swimmer at best but he was weighted down by his heavy clothes and doomed by a pair of four-buckle rubber overshoes that he had on.  He tried in vain to get the overshoes off, but was unable to do so before they dragged him under the frigid waters.  A witness, Champ Russenholt, saw Cst. REAY struggling in the water and the canoe drifting away from him.  Russenholt rushed down to the water and launched a small boat but, when he got out to the point where REAY had fallen in, there was no sign of the policeman.

Dragging began almost immediately.  Five different boats were utilized.  They were manned by police, local natives and employees of the Churchill River Power Co.  Charles REAY’s body was recovered shortly afternoon in 30 feet of water.  The inquest determined that the outboard motor had stalled because its air vent had not been opened.

A well-attended funeral service was held on October 10 in the Flin Flon Lutheran Church and interment was at the cemetery in the town of his birth, Camrose, Alberta.

(Personnel File Reviewed – Photo available)