R.R. (Randy) Schramm
Home Town: Lemberg, SK
Training Division: “Depot”
Troop: TR. D 1954/55
Regimental Number: 18552 / 0.593
Divisions Served: ‘M’ (YT), ‘O’ (ON), ‘F’ (SK), ‘HQ’ and ‘E’
Pillar Location: Pillar X, Row 6, Column F
R.R. (Randy) Schramm, Assistant Commissioner (Rtd.) 18552/0.593
When I phoned up the RCMP to enquire about The Pillars of the Force, the man said “I knew Randy. I worked with him”, despite Dad having retired over twenty years ago. This happened throughout my life, even on my honeymoon while going for a trail ride at the Banff Springs Hotel. When I was young, it seemed like I couldn’t get away from my dad. Now, I realize that it was a testament to the scope of Dad’s career and his persona. I’ve learned a lot from some of Dad’s writings and from emails sent from colleagues upon his death. Any errors are my own – I wish I had listened with more attention.
Cheryl Schramm, his daughter.
Randolf Roland Schramm joined the RCMP as part of a contingent of Saskatchewan Prairie Boys, having been raised on a wheat farm outside of Lemberg and being among the first to graduate from high school. He would talk about “D” Troop, named after their quarters in a World War II trailer building called the D block: How their 6-month training program lengthened into a year as Troop D was diverted to bring in the hay for the horses, and then to build a new rifle and revolver range.
Randy’s first posting was in Burns Lake (1955-56). “The duty week consisted of eight hour-shifts, six days a week, with double shifts on Friday and Saturday nights … By the time the shift ended, the police cells were overcrowded. But before going off shift, we had to type up a record of all the incidents we had attended, including the information on all charges we intended to lay before the Magistrate for Court at 10:00 AM (we did all our own typing in those days – there were no secretaries or typists on staff). Furthermore, although we were considered technically off shift at 2:00 AM, we were responsible for attending to any complaints or calls for service until 8:00 AM when the day shift came on duty. It frequently happened that calls for service were received – especially on weekends – resulting in being on active duty from 6:00 PM the previous night until 8:00 AM the next morning.” (Randy’s own writings).
From there, Randy was posted to Pond Inlet (1957-58) for a year to serve with Corporal Ray Johnston and Special Constables Panapakachoo and Kudlo.
“Randy was en route to a remote new posting in the North on the St. Roche** with Captain Henry Larsen in charge. The plan was to drop Randy and sufficient building material to erect a new detachment building. Prior to Randy leaving the ship, for what must have been a daunting task, Sgt. Larsen invited Randy to his cabin for a tot of rum which of course Randy politely declined. It’s hard to imagine an assignment like this in today’s world”. Email from Denis Moore Supt.(rtd) 18825/0923
** Randy actually sailed on the C.D Howe supply ship. Henry Larson famously crossed the Northwest Passage twice in the historic St. Roch.
Dad was tall. At this time, there were height limits for recruits of 6’5” so Randy would jocularly hedge that he was 6’4 ¾”. Upon arrival, Kudlo’s wife mused that extra pelts would be needed to make his outer garments and footwear.
Pond Inlet was to receive a new Police Post “primarily because of the recent resettlement by the Government of Canada of a group of Inuit from norther Quebec to the high Arctic.” (Schramm). It was a time of tuberculosis and the year-long posting included two 300-mile tours by dogsled to check on the shoreline communities, packing penicillin inside his parka. It is to Randy’s credit that he continued to
follow the Inuit communities as late as 2011 regarding the revelations concerning these northern resettlements and the hidden stories of the Inuit families.
“The Detachment was operated on an “open house” basis. Inuit people were welcome to come in anytime for a chat or for a cup of tea and a cigarette. Cans of tobacco and cigarette papers were always available on the kitchen table. Inuit from remote hunting camps were encouraged to visit the Detachment when they came to the settlement for supplies and provisions. In this way, we could determine the welfare of the people at those camps in terms of the adequacy of their food supplies and in terms of their health.” (Schramm)
Randy stayed in the North for another few years in Whitehorse (1959-62) working in General Investigation, where he met his wife, June. In those days, recruits could not marry for the first five years of service. June was up visiting her twin sister Joan, married to another RCMP member George Ambrose. A few short months later, on March 28, 1959, Randy and June were married. They honeymooned in Juno, Alaska, although it was only upon arriving in Juno that June learned that they would have to return early after three days so that Randy could testify in court. Yes, Randy worked long hours, earning his reputation for persistent and thorough research.
His investigative skills earned a transfer to Toronto (1962-1966). One case of notoriety during this time was that of Hal C. Banks of the Seafarer’s International Union who was suspected of beating up his rival union leader, Captain Henry Walsh (Macleans, May 18, 1963, by Peter Gzowski). Randy successfully concluded the case; however, Banks absconded to the United States while on bail and got away. The next one didn’t. Joseph Samuel Wacker committed fraud selling shares in a fake mining venture in Whitehorse, and he too fled to the United States. Randy successfully argued the case for extradition in New Orleans. While there, “Schramm said he had a habit of taking local buses where he went in order to explore cities in his off time. A bus ride in New Orleans was an eye-opening experience. Schramm customarily went to the back of the bus so that he would not be in the way of people getting on and off. Unfamiliar with segregated seating Schramm took his seat at the back of the bus, surrounded by black people. Schramm said the driver then called out to him. “Cm-ere Whitey he said. Schramm asked him what the problem was. The driver said: “You don’t sit back there…you sit in the front”. The black people sit in the back.” Schramm still chuckles about it. “ (Scarlet and Gold, June 7, 2009, by George Garrett).
Randy’s next posting was to Koln, Germany with Canadian Visa Control Operations for Europe and the Middle East. Randy’s parents were Germany-speaking immigrants: On his mother’s side from Austria and on his father’s from Russia, the ethnic Germans of the Volga River. He was raised speaking German, not learning English until he started school at the age of seven.
Upon returning to Canada, Randy continually got promoted – and posted – to Prince Albert (1969-1971, Inspector, Officer in Command), then Regina (1971-1973, Detective Inspector, Province of Saskatchewan) and Prince Rupert (1973-1976, Superintendent, Officer in Command). Travel increased during these years as Randy went to visit the outlying detachments. In Saskatchewan, travel included trips on the famous de Havilland Beaver. A caricature (now unfortunately lost) depicted an incident involving a crash into a chicken coop, and another tale involves an aborted landing when the plane flipped in cross winds. As an officer, there were annual Balls; and the years in Prince Rupert had a very social role in the community, with Christmas and New Year levee’s being hosted at home. June would recall that when Randy was commissioned as an officer, she was also “trained” by the Force – in
etiquette, in setting a table. The most rankling instruction: to order a set of greeting (business) cards for herself with her name as Mrs. R.R. Schramm, instead of her own name or initial.
Three more postings followed: Toronto (1976-79, Chief Superintendent, Office in Charge, Criminal Operations Branch), Ottawa Headquarters (1979-1987), and Vancouver (Assistant Commissioner, OIC CROPS, 1987-1989). Newspaper clippings of the time show the evolution of Randy’s work to the national and international level of RCMP operations. His testimony is part of the record for the MacDonald Commission (1981) as well as the Deschenes Commission (1985). The MacDonald Commission investigated illegal intelligence operations in advance of the 1976 Montreal Olympics and resulted in the removal of intelligence services from the RCMP and the creation of the separate Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). The Deschenes Commission investigated the presence of war criminals living in Canada, strengthening the procedures and citizenship laws for prosecutions. In Ottawa, his work touched on auditing, the establishment of new criminal databases and criminal code amendments. As part of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Randy travelled to Grenada as part of the contingent sent to rebuild of the Grenada police force after the Invasion of Grenada (1983). With his perspective and as a history buff, Randy was a keynote speaker for the International Society of Crime Prevention Practitioners (ISCPP, October 1987), speaking about the importance of continuous rejuvenation of the relationship between police and community.
Post-retirement, for the next 28 years, monthly lunches were a highlight for Randy with people drawn from many stages of his career. He enjoyed the rapport while, in his words, all the world’s problems were solved over a bowl of soup. The support and friendship of these lunchmates were dearly valued by Randy as he continued to care about the Force.
“Your Dad was an exceptional investigator and role model for other members. He was held in high esteem by all who served with him.” Email from James (Bob) Gilholme C/Supt. Rtd. 19061/0984