Thomas Seller Wallace

Last updated
Thomas Seller Wallace
Banffshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
Died8 October 1935 (age 39)
Banff, Alberta, Canada
Union Cemetery, Calgary, Alberta
AllegianceFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Canadian Red Ensign 1921-1957.svg Canada
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Alberta Provincial Police
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Years of service1914-1918 British Army
1921-1932 Alberta Provincial Police
1932-1935 Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Rank British Army OR-6.svg Serjeant (British Army)
RCMP Sergeant Rank.svg Sergeant (RCMP)
Unit1/6 Battalion, Gordon Highlanders
Battles/wars World War I

Thomas Seller Wallace, MM (1896 October 8, 1935) was a British-born Canadian police officer who was killed in the 1935 Royal Canadian Mounted Police Killings. On 8 October 1935, Wallace was shot in the chest by one of the fugitives in the incident on the outskirts of Banff, Alberta, succumbing to his wounds later that day. He had previously earned a distinguished service record in the British Army during World War I. He emigrated to Canada and joined the Alberta Provincial Police after the war in 1921, before it was amalgamated with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police by 1932 and had been a law enforcement officer in Alberta for 14 years before his death.

Military Medal military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Army and other services

The Military Medal (MM) was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Army and other arms of the armed forces, and to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land. The award was established in 1916, with retrospective application to 1914, and was awarded to other ranks for "acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire". The award was discontinued in 1993 when it was replaced by the Military Cross, which was extended to all ranks, while other Commonwealth nations instituted their own award systems in the post war period.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.


Early life and World War I

Wallace was born in Banffshire, Scotland and enlisted in the British Army prior to the First World War. Assigned to the 1/6 Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, he saw action in the initial campaigns of the war including the Battle of Mons as an "old contemptible" of the British Expeditionary Force. He was awarded a Military Medal for his distinguished service as a sniper and left the army as a Serjeant. [1]

Banffshire Historic county in Scotland

Banffshire is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area of Scotland. The county town is Banff, although the largest community is Buckie to the west. It borders the Moray Firth to the north, Morayshire and Inverness-shire to the west, and Aberdeenshire to the east and south.

Scotland Country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, with a border with England to the southeast, and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Gordon Highlanders line infantry regiment of the British Army (1881–1994)

The Gordon Highlanders was a line infantry regiment of the British Army that existed for 113 years, from 1881 until 1994, when it was amalgamated with the Queen's Own Highlanders to form the Highlanders.

Police career

After the First World War, Thomas emigrated to Canada and joined the Alberta Provincial Police in 1921. The force itself was relatively new after having been formed in 1917 to replace the paramilitary Northwest Mounted Police which had just relinquished policing duties in Alberta. [2] He was posted across Alberta throughout his career with the APP was noted as an effective policeman winning the Byron Trophy for being the best shot with a revolver in the entire force.

Alberta Provincial Police

The Alberta Provincial Police was a police force active in Alberta, Canada, between 1917 and 1932.

The force was amalgamated with the RCMP in 1932 as a cost-cutting measure during the Great Depression. At the time of the amalgamation, Wallace was an APP Sergeant serving as a drill instructor stationed in Lethbridge. He was allowed retained his rank in the newly formed Alberta detachment of the RCMP after additional training in Regina. [3]

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Lethbridge City in Alberta, Canada

Lethbridge is a city in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is Alberta's third-largest city by both population and land area after Calgary and Edmonton, and the largest city in southern Alberta. The nearby Canadian Rockies contribute to the city's warm summers, mild winters, and windy climate. Lethbridge lies southeast of Calgary on the Oldman River.

Regina, Saskatchewan Provincial capital city in Saskatchewan, Canada

Regina is the capital city of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The city is the second-largest in the province, after Saskatoon, and a cultural and commercial centre for southern Saskatchewan. It is governed by Regina City Council. The city is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Sherwood No. 159.

Death and funeral

On 7 October 1935, Wallace had been dispatched with fellow British born RCMP officer Constable George "Scotty" Harrison while in dressed in plain clothed. They were to assist with the capture of three fugitive Doukhobors identified as John Kalmakoff, Joseph Posnikoff, and Peter Woiken. They had been suspected of killing Constable William Wainwright of the Benito police force and RCMP Constable John Shaw. They joined with uniformed RCMP officers G.E Combes and Gray Campbell in an unmarked police vehicle.

A constable is a person holding a particular office, most commonly in criminal law enforcement. The office of constable can vary significantly in different jurisdictions. A constable is commonly the rank of an officer within the police. Other people may be granted powers of a constable without holding this title.

Benito, Manitoba village in Manitoba, Canada

Benito is an unincorporated rural community in the Municipality of Swan Valley West within the Canadian province of Manitoba that held village status prior to January 1, 2015. The community is situated in the Swan River Valley, 37 kilometres southwest of Swan River, 475 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, and 2 kilometres east of the Saskatchewan border. To the south is Duck Mountain Provincial Park and Forest, to the north is Thunder Hill and further north of Swan River is Porcupine Mountain Provincial Park. Benito is served by PTH 83.

On 8 October, the perpetrators had robbed a vehicle driven by C.T Scott. Scott had his money and wristwatch stolen by the disoriented fugitives. They bizarrely informed him that they would return his wristwatch if he did not inform the police and continued to follow his vehicle westward as it drove towards Banff. As the two vehicles arrived in Banff, Scott stopped his vehicle before an RCMP checkpoint near the eastern gate of Banff National Park and informed the uniformed Campbell that the men in the vehicle following him had just robbed him. [4]

Banff, Alberta Town in Alberta, Canada

Banff is a town within Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. It is located in Alberta's Rockies along the Trans-Canada Highway, approximately 126 km (78 mi) west of Calgary and 58 km (36 mi) east of Lake Louise. At 1,400 to 1,630 m above sea level, Banff is the community with the second highest elevation in Alberta, after Lake Louise.

Banff National Park national park in Alberta, Canada

Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park and was established in 1885. Located in the Rocky Mountains, 110–180 kilometres (68–112 mi) west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, Banff encompasses 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with many glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbours to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast. The main commercial centre of the park is the town of Banff, in the Bow River valley.

As Wallace and Harrison approached the vehicle, two shots through the windshield were fired by its occupants, hitting both officers. The officers continued to engage the fugitives but had been mortally wounded. Harrison had been shot in the neck, and managed to shoot out the headlights of the vehicle before losing consciousness. Wallace fired his service revolver until he was low on ammunition and collapsed from his wounds. [5] Combes was able to shoot Woiken, killing him instantly while the remaining two perpetrators were tracked down by a combined force of RCMP officers and enraged civilians. Kalmakoff and Posnikoff were both and ultimately shot and morally wounded by civilian William Neish. [6]

Wallace was transported to Calgary for medical attention after the shooting where he died of his wounds, with his wife Helen at his side. His partner Harrison also died of his wounds on the same day. At the time of his death, Wallace had been a police officer for 14 years in Alberta. His long years of service were recognized in his massive funeral procession led by the Calgary Highlanders' Pipes and Drums band. He was buried with full masonic and military honours at Calgary's Union Cemetery. [7]

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  1. "Medal card of Wallace, T S Corps: Gordon Highlanders Regiment No: 265178date =". UK National Archives. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  2. Johnsrude, Larry (18 June 2007). "Provincial police history saved". Edmonton Journal . Archived from the original on 6 November 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  3. Sucha, Don. "Sergeant Thomas Wallace". University of Calgary. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  4. "G.C. Harrison" (PDF). Edmonton RCMP Veterans. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  5. Taylor, Scott. "Winnipeg Police Service History - Murder on the Prairies". Winnipeg Police Service. Winnipeg Police Service History and Museum. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  6. "A story of interest from 1935 involving Banff Park Warden, Bill Neish". National Park Warden Alumni Society. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2015./
  7. "Sergeant T.S Wallace" (PDF). Edmonton RCMP Veterans. Retrieved 6 July 2015.