Blue Line

Forgotten no more

September 8, 2014  By Doug Marianchuk

Canadian Pacific Railway Police Cst. Robert MacIntosh was on routine duty checking boxcars in Calgary when nearby rail workers heard gunshots. They rushed to investigate and found him laying on the ground. He had been shot once in the chest.

The workers quickly sunmmoned help from two Calgary police officers. An ambulance was called and MacIntosh was rushed to hospital but passed away without regaining consciousness. Examination revealed the .32 calibre bullet passed through his right arm just above the elbow and into his chest. Although he had a revolver in hand, it had not been fired.

It was September 4, 1912. MacIntosh, who had only been on the job for three months, became the first CP police officer to be killed in the line of duty.

CP, Calgary police and the Pinkerton Detective Agency investigated. Thieves operating in the area had broken into several boxcars containing alcohol. MacIntosh had hoped to surprise them. The investigators confirmed this by finding several bottles of whiskey on the ground outside an open boxcar. It was believed MacIntosh surprised the thieves, ordered them to halt and was subsequently shot.


MacIntosh had showed his fellow members a photo of his wife and three children earlier in the day and remarked that he wanted to get a picture taken of himself in his dress uniform to send back home.

Investigators discovered that, in the rush to get to work, he had forgotten his issue sidearm at home
and borrowed a spare revolver. An examination showed the spare had a broken trigger spring and was incapable of being fired.

I read about MacIntosh in the Canadian Pacific Police Service (CPPS) which reprinted an article on his death from September 5, 1912, and discovered that his name was not on the Canadian Police and Peace Officers Memorial.

Getting him honoured required doing some research to show he met the criteria. The article indicated MacIntosh had come from the Strathy area of Scotland so I e-mailed the local historical society, which replied quickly and put me in touch with David Mackay, a great nephew.

Two weeks later Christine Feltham, 73, contacted me. A granddaughter of MacIntosh, she was a wealth of information. She unearthed a photo of her grandfather and even a copy of the photo of his wife and three children that he had showed to his co-workers.

With Christine and David’s help, I was able to put together a short history. MacIntosh and his brother-in-law sailed to Nova Scotia from Liverpool on the SS Canada and eventually went to Calgary. Robert was hired by CP and prepared to have his family sail over from Scotland. He was killed before that could happen and his brother-in-law returned to Scotland with his body.

MacIntosh was subsequently buried in Strathy. His widow, Anna, opted for the return of his body instead of the small pension that CPR offered – it was one or the other. She continued to live in Scotland until her death in 1969.

While conducting the research I came across a second member of the CPPS who was killed on duty yet not honored on the national monument. Cst James Urquhart of the Vancouver detachment was killed April 21, 1930. He was also born in Scotland and served with Glasgow police before emigrating to Canada for a better life.

Urquhart joined the Winnipeg police before transferring over to CP. He was released from duty to serve in the First World War and returned five years later a decorated hero.

On the day of his death he was posted at the Columbia Street crossing in Vancouver. While protecting the crossing Passenger Train 4 pulled out of the station. Urquhart stepped back from its path and was struck from behind by a west bound freight train and killed instantly. He had no know next of kin.

Both MacIntosh and Urquhart’s names were to be added to the national memorial as historical additions in September. MacIntosh will also be included on the Alberta Police and Peace Officers Monument and Urquhart on the British Columbia Police Monument.

Six CPPS members have been killed in the line of duty. The other four, who are already on the national monument in Ottawa, are:

Cst. Anthony Tierney: Shot and killed in Moose Jaw April 8, 1922.
Investigator James Mackie: Shot and killed in Montreal September 8, 1933.
Cst. George Howard: Struck and killed by a train December 23, 1936.
Investigator Grant MARTIN: Struck and killed by a vehicle in Toronto April 29, 1989.


CPPS Sgt. Doug Marianchuk works in the Edmonton detachment. This article was sybmitted to by Darwin Pearson.

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