Insp. Lorne James SAMPSON – May 8, 1933

Reg. # 0.281, Insp. Lorne James SAMPSON

May 8, 1933, at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan                    Age: 38 years

Lorne J. SAMPSON was born on January 9, 1895 at Marksdale, Ontario to William SAMPSON.  He had siblings Lance and Vera.  He homesteaded on the NE quarter of section 30, township 21, Range 20, West of the 3rd Meridian (near Abbey, Saskatchewan with his father.  He engaged with the RNWMP in Swift Current on September 14, 1914 (Reg. No. 6252).  On June 22, 1915, he was promoted to Cpl.  He discharged as time expired on September 13, 1915.  On February 28, 1916, he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Sault St. Marie, Ontario as Reg number 754877.  He served in the 119th Battalion in Canada and England.  He transferred to the 58th Battalion, becoming a Company Sgt. Major and served in France.  He reengaged with the Mounties after the war on April 1, 1919.  On November 19, 1919, he married Doris Frieda PEAKE of Torrington Park, North Finchley, London, England.

He served in Saskatchewan and British Columbia and was promoted to Sergeant on October 19,1919.  In 1924, he went overseas as a Sergeant with the RCMP contingent that represented Canada at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley.  On May 16, 1932, he was promoted to Sergeant Major and posted to Depot Division, Regina.  Sgt. Major SAMPSON was commissioned to the rank of Inspector on April 1, 1933, and given the command of “B” Troop.  As soon as this troop finished their training in Regina and graduated, they were sent to patrol the Relief Camp in Saskatoon with Insp. SAMPSON in command.

Relief camps had been set up across the country by the government.  They were intended to house and feed the hoard of jobless men that desperately roamed the land looking for work during the Great Depression.  Unemployment was especially bad on the western plains because of the drought that turned the soil to dust, smothering the crops and bankrupting the farmers.  One of these relief camps had been set up at the Exhibition grounds on the outskirts of Saskatoon.  Trouble was brewing there because it was terribly crowded with 800 men, 300 more than it was supposed to hold.  Most of the men was transients.  Some were radical extremists bent on causing disturbances that would embarrass the government.  The camp was also infested with a small criminal element that went about committing vandalism, assaults and thefts.  As the threat of trouble grew, the RCMP were called in to assist the Saskatoon police.  A special train was put together to take the troop to Saskatoon.  The horses and saddlery were loaded onto the horse cars at the Regina rail yards.  “B” troop, issued with steel First World War helmets and four foot long London Police truncheons, boarded the passenger coaches.

The immediate source of discontent at the overcrowded camp was the government’s decision to transfer 200 men from Saskatoon to the Regina Relief Camp.  Those men selected for transfer became angry and truculent, and were determined to resist.  But they had to be moved, so the Saskatoon municipal police and a troop of RCMP foot police went to remove those on the transfer list.  When this exercise was about to take place, Insp. SAMPSON’s mounted troop was ordered to stand by the camp in case of trouble.

Before the troop rode out to camp, every reasonable precaution was taken.  Chain reins were issued to supplement the leather ones in the event that they were cut by the mob.  Insp. SAMPSON ordered his men to unload their sidearms and put the ammunition back in their belt pouches.  He is reported to have told him men in part, “I do not believe we should appear as a military unit, ready to fight anybody.  We are going to the camp to help keep the peace and support the municipal authorities . . . I do not like loaded firearms in this sort of thing.”

In checking each man’s equipment before departure, SAMPSON went down the ranks and noticed a young constable was riding a notoriously difficult horse named Nick.  To protect the recruit, the Inspector instructed the constable to exchange horses with him.  Although the constable protested he could handle Nick, the Inspector insisted and they made the switch.

At the fairgrounds, the mounted police waited in the distance as the foot police went into the buildings to remove the transferees.  A police whistle from inside signaled their need for assistance and the mounted police moved in.  As they neared the angry mob outside the buildings, the riders were pelted with rocks and bottles and pieces of broken cement.  Sling shots were used to project some of the missiles with tremendous force.  One of them hit Insp. SAMPSON on the head.  His hat flew off and he fell backwards in the saddle still tugging on the reins.  Nick reared straight up in the air and the Inspector pitched backwards out of the saddle to the ground.  His right foot was stuck in the stirrup as the “stirrup release” failed to function.  The horse, terrified by the mob and the strange pulling on his right flank, reared again and then bolted away in a wild gallop.

Cst. Frank SPALDING and Cpl. Pat CLEARY tried to box in the runaway, but he was too fast for their horses.  As Nick veered wildly about, he tried to run between the row of iron posts that lined the driveway.  Insp. SAMPSON’s body swung out in an arc and his head hit one of the posts with such impact that the stirrup strap broke and Insp. SAMPSON’s limp body fell to the ground.  He was placed in an automobile and taken to the hospital in Saskatoon where he died several hours later.

The riot which had cost the Inspector his life was brought under control and 27 men were arrested.  One man, suspected of throwing the missile which knocked Insp. SAMPSON form the saddle, was charged with manslaughter, but was later acquitted.

Insp. SAMPSON’s death brought his promising career to an untimely close.  On May 10, 1933, a short service was held in the Chapel of Campbell’s Funeral Home in Saskatoon by Rev. Roy Melville of Christ Church, Saskatoon.  His body was escorted to Regina by Sgt. Major G.F. Griffin to Regina where a funeral service was held at the Chapel at Depot Division.  His remains were then borne to the RCMP Cemetery nearby.  In the funeral cortege to the graveyard, Nick, his fractious mount, was led behind the gun carriage that transported the casket.  The horse’s saddle was draped in black with the rider’s boots reversed in the stirrups.

The only married man in “B” troop, Insp. SAMPSON was survived by his young widow and their two children, Douglas Lorne (B: MAY 12, 1921 and Elaine Pamela (B: March 18, 1926).  He would be sadly missed by his men and many civilians with whom he had come in contact.  His wife received cards of sympathy from every quarter.

A Telegram from a Japanese fisherman with whom Insp. SAMPSON had worked closely in Vancouver read as follows:

“We learned with deep regret of death of Inspector Sampson and we deeply share with you a loss as he was loyal officer.  STOP.  However, we feel he is well satisfied as he gave all when he gave his life for country.”

(2009-10-15 – Personnel File reviewed – small newspaper photo on file.  Photos available)