by Dan Pearce, Abbotsford News
Kendall De Menech of Abbotsford can recall lying on the living room floor as a child, playing with her grandfather’s pocket watch.
At the time, she had little knowledge of his untimely end.
Today, De Menech is in the process of writing a book on her paternal grandfather, an RCMP officer who was murdered in 1928.
Sgt. Richard Nicholson was shot during a confrontation with a bootlegger in Molson, Manitoba. while conducting a search of his farm.
He was the 49th member of the RCMP to fall.
When her father and grandmother were alive, it wasn’t easy to broach the subject of her grandfather’s passing.
“We didn’t really talk about it,” De Menech said. “We didn’t want to upset my grandmother, and my dad was kind of private, so there’s always been this kind of Hollywood mystery.”
In the early ’90s, De Menech began searching for information on her grandfather through microfiche at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and found plenty that interested her.
Recently, she decided to put together the information she had accumulated into a booklet for her family.
“I have a child, cousins, nieces and nephews that don’t have a lot of information, so I thought I’d just start it off as a booklet for the family,” she said.
It wasn’t long before she realized the project could have a much larger scope.
“The more I researched, the more I realized it’s just a great hundred years. Even at the time of his death, it was a turning time in terms of advances in technology.”
Since those trips to UBC some 20 years ago, De Menech has amassed a sizeable collection of artifacts and information related to her grandfather’s passing through her own research, or from family members.
De Menech’s interest was heightened further when she came into possession of her grandfather’s pocket watch and jacket.
“What really set it off for me was the jacket,” she said.
The year 1914 is written on the inside sleeve. De Menech believes this to be when the jacket was made and hopes to be finished her book by 2014 so she can celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the coat.
De Menech hopes to hold the event at Depot, the RCMP training academy in Regina. This is also where both De Menech’s paternal grandparents are buried.
“Isn’t that the coolest? How could you honour a man more? I’m very pumped,” she said.
To this day, De Menech is still captivated by her grandfather’s gold pocket watch.
“It’s got the most beautiful tick. It’s so quiet and deep.”
The watch still contains a photo of De Menech’s grandmother.
“Every time he wound it, he looked at the face of the woman he loved,” she said.
Over the next two years, De Menech is planning trips to her grandfather’s various posts in cities including Dawson City, Yukon; and Winnipeg, Lac du Bonnet and Molson, Manitoba.
Through this exploration, she is hoping to uncover more information and delve deeper into her grandfather’s history as a Mountie.