The RCMP recently held a re-dedication ceremony in honour of former Arcola resident Cpl Donald (Archie) Harvey who died in the line of duty in Alberta in 1967.
Last year during the annual inspections of the RCMP/RNWP graves in our area Carlyle Detachment S/Sgt Darren Simons and retired S/Sgt George Anderson noted that Cpl. Harvey’s grave stone had cracked. They followed up and ensured the grave was repaired.
The two were also instrumental in planning and organizing a re-dedication ceremony in honour of Cpl Harvey. It was held at the Arcola Cemetery on Friday, May 24.
The ceremony was attended by Cpl. Harvey’s widow Hilda and other family members, some of whom traveled from Ontario to be in attendance. Members of the public also attended, some of whom knew Cpl Harvey during his time in Arcola.
Participating in the ceremony were officers dressed in red serge from RCMP detachments in Carlyle, Carnduff, Estevan and Weyburn, RCMP Veterans, members of the Royal Canadian Legion, the RCMP Chaplain, a piper from the RCMP pipe band and a bugler from the Royal Canadian Legion.
Cpl. Harvey’s family expressed sincere appreciation to the RCMP for both repairing the grave stone and organizing the ceremony.
The following is an article detailing the Call for Service that ultimately led to Cpl. Harvey dying in the line of duty:
HARVEY, DONALD A. - CPL. Regimental No. 17129 June 23, 1967
Alberta Age: 34
Leonard Otto Borg was a 22 year old drifter who had settled in Grande Prairie, a small town in Alberta 250 miles northwest of Edmonton. A Canadian of Swedish decent, he was a man with a criminal history who had already spent six and a half years in prison. He claimed he got three of those years for something he didn’t do. Borg hated prison and had no intention of going back there. He told his father, “There will be blood spilled before I ever go back to prison again.” He also hated the police and for a long time had harboured plans to kill a Mountie.
The police knew how twisted Borg was, but they didn’t realize the depth of his rage and how dangerous he had become. They didn’t know that six months before, Borg had murdered his girlfriend, Effy Reindeer. He had killed her in her cabin out in the wilds of Spencer’s Bridge and then had burned the place down to hide her body. They also didn’t know that he was planning to kill his new girlfriend, Georgina Roberts, who was having an affair with another man. Borg expected to be caught, but planned to wreak his revenge on a few policemen when they came to arrest him.
At 3:00am, Friday, June 23, 1967, Borg tried to stab Georgina Roberts to death.
She put up such a struggle that the only way he could kill her was to choke her to death with her own scarf. Then at 9:00 am when the stores opened, he went out and bought himself a single shot .22 calibre rifle. At 10:40 am, when he returned to his apartment over the garage, he phoned the RCMP Beaverlodge Detachment to report the murder. But he was so nervous and did it so quickly that he failed to tell them the address. He called a second time at 11:20 am, but bungled it again. Finally, at 2:30 pm, he connected and induced the police to respond. Once he got off the phone, he set up his ambush. Borg opened the window that looked out on the driveway to the street. He piled his jacket on the floor beneath the window so that he could kneel on it. Then he gathered his rifle and ammunition and cigarettes and placed them on the bed beside him . . . and waited.
The two RCMP that responded to his latest call were Cpl. Bill Biggar and Cpl. Donald A. Harvey, who was known by his second name, Archie. Bill Biggar remembers what happened when they arrived:
“We got there at 2:40 pm and, as soon as we entered the yard at the end of the driveway, a shot rang out. It came from the window above the garage, over forty feet away. The bullet hit Archie in the chest. I learned later that it hit him between the first and second ribs and severed the aorta. He died almost instantly.
I was lucky. Borg only had a single shot.22 and he had to take time to reload or he would have got me too. I took cover and waited for him to show himself in the window. The first thing I saw coming out was his rifle and then his head appeared. I was all set to shoot and got a round off right away. It nicked him on the left ear and he let out a howl. That seemed to take the fight out of him and the next thing you know, Borg threw his rifle out the window and surrendered.”
When backup officers arrived, Cpt. Harvey’s body was removed and taken to Grande Prairie Hospital. Georgina Robert’s body was found in the bedroom and it was also removed from the scene.
As Borg was led away, he told police: “I shot one in the chest...at least that’s where I aimed.” Borg also left a note that indicated he had planned to kill a policeman for a long time. In part it read: “I promised myself I would take some with me.”
Cpl. Archie Harvey had served 16 years with the RCMP in eight different detachments in Alberta. A plaque in his honour was raised at Depot Division in Regina. It stands on the wall of the Chapel not far from the gymnasium where the burly young recruit was known in training as the “best boxer in barracks.”
Harvey was buried at the United Church Cemetery in his hometown of Arcola, Saskatchewan. He was survived by his wife, Hilda, their two children, aged seven and five, and both of his parents.
At his trial in Edmonton in April 1968, Leonard Borg was sentenced to be hanged July 24, 1968. By an order-in-council, his execution was commuted to a term of life imprisonment. He was sent to the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert where he died five years later from cancer.