Honouring Const. Charles N. Paris, Drumheller’s first fallen officer
October 5, 2020 By Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
The last Sunday of September is dedicated to the observance of both the Alberta and Canada Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. Flags were at half-staff in Drumheller, Alta. on Sunday, Sept. 27 in honour of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
This is the story of Drumheller’s first fallen officer, Const. Charles N. Paris.
Charles Nicolay Paris was born in Greenock, Scotland — approximately 41 kilometres west of Glasgow — on Sept. 26, 1892. He was the first-born and only son of Herbert George and Marie (nee Keiding) Paris.
The Paris family immigrated to Canada, settling in the area of Drumheller. Charles signed up for the Royal North-West Mounted Police (RNWMP) in October 1912 and was stationed as the first police officer in Drumheller. Around this time, he wed Beryl Louise Greentree, the daughter of one of Drumheller’s founders, Thomas Patrick “T.P.” Greentree.
According to The Hills of Home, Drumheller history book, a year before joining the RNWMP, Const. Paris saved the life of his younger brother-in-law, Richard Greentree, when a fire broke out at the homestead of T.P Greentree. Richard crawled under his bed in fright and would have perished in the fire were it not for Const. Paris’ quick action to pull him out.
Const. Paris left RNWMP at the start of World War I, joining the Canadian Army in July 1916 where he served as lieutenant of the 187th Central Alberta “Overseas” Battalion.
He was wounded overseas in the war.
Upon returning to Canada, he re-joined the RNWMP and purchased a homestead while serving with the Drumheller Detachment. Purchase of the homestead was frowned upon by Paris’ superior officers.
In 1917 Const. Paris and Beryl welcomed a son, Charles Oliver Paris.
Const. Paris left the RNWMP once more in 1921 and joined the Drumheller Police Department where he served for a period of two years.
On the evening of May 2, 1923 Const. Paris and Police Chief Fletcher attempted to arrest bootlegger, Elmo E. “Ike” Trider. During the arrest attempt, both officers jumped onto the running board of Trider’s McLauglin roadster and Const. Paris attempted to remove the ignition keys.
Trider attempted to make a getaway, speeding down Railway Avenue in Drumheller towards Parkdale (approximately where the Nazarene Church is located today). Unknown to Trider, the street had been cut off and the vehicle crashed into a board fence at the intersection of Railway Avenue and Sixth Avenue.
Const. Paris was fatally injured when he was impaled by a piece of fencing and died of his injuries on May 3, 1923.
He was 30 years old and is the first fallen officer in Drumheller’s history.
On his deathbed, Const. Paris gave an account of the events of that evening. Record of the statement was included in an archived May 10, 1923 edition of the Hanna Herald:
“I, Charles N. Paris, entertaining no hope of recovery from my present illness and conscious that my death is imminent, do solemnly declare that I jumped on the automobile and told Trider to stop. I had a warrant for him. He kept on going and finally he said ‘I am going to run her into the fence,’ and he deliberately ran her (the vehicle) into the fence. That is all I know. He tried to brush us off by the old McKinnon warehouse. I told him to stop three or four times. I saw him behind the Club bar in the alley. Dan Buchanan was in the car with him.”
Following Const. Paris’ death, Trider was put on trial for his murder. The vehicle’s other occupant, Dan Buchanan, gave an account stating neither Paris or Fletcher interfered with the vehicle’s steering, though Trider claimed otherwise. Trider was later found not guilty in Const. Paris’ murder, according to a June 2, 1923 archived article from The Lethbridge Daily Herald, though he was sentenced three years on a different charge. The jury deliberated for a total of 19 minutes.
“This is a lesson that I hope will serve you for the rest of your life, and I hope that nothing will blot from your mind the memory of Constable Paris who died doing what he thought was his duty,” Justice Walsh told Trider according to the article.
Const. Paris’ name is included in the Memorial Book at the National Police and Peace Officers Memorial in Ottawa. He is buried in the Drumheller Cemetery.
By Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail
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