Latest stories

Retired RCMP officer reunited with lost honorary document decades later

Mounted Troop at Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, led by Sergeant Major Christopher Peters. 1915 Credit: RCMP


A precious RCMP document buried under a stack of papers was finally presented to its rightful owner more than five decades after its intended delivery.

A female police officer hands a certificate to a man indoors.

Staff sergeant-major Shelley Wiltse presented retired superintendent Edward H. Trefry with his honorary warrant parchment last winter.

Edward H. Trefry retired in 1981 at the rank of Superintendent and was almost 100 years old when he was presented last winter with an honorary warrant parchment — a legal document that recognizes his title of sergeant major.

Warrant officers of the sergeant major rank are the second highest non-commissioned officer rank in the RCMP and are appointed by the Commissioner. They are normally presented with their parchment once appointed but, for Trefry, the wait was a little longer than for most — 56 years to be exact.

What is a warrant parchment?

Warrant parchments date back to 1879 when the British army introduced a class of non-commissioned officers, known as warrant officers, who had special duties in the Commissariat and Transport departments. In March 1879, the Adjutant General suggested this role be extended to a number of senior non-commissioned officer positions in combatant units, including the cavalry sergeants-major.

Today the RCMP has three ranks in the warrant group: staff sergeant-major, sergeant-major, and corps sergeant-major.

Why the wait?

Prior to 2007, RCMP warrant officers were not issued warrant parchments. Retired Commissioner Phil Murray was the first to begin the practice of 'appointment' with his selection of Corporal Bill Stewart as Riding Master in 1999. Every warrant parchment is signed by the Commissioner who issues it.

In order to appoint its members to the sergeant-major ranks, the organization started to issue warrants to all living and retired members who had been warrant officers. In the case of Trefry, his parchment was issued retroactively in 2007, 26 years after his retirement. It's likely that Trefry could not be located when his parchment was issued.

Lost and found

When sergeant-major Damien J. Smith found Trefry's warrant parchment in November 2022 upon taking over a new office space, he knew he didn't have any time to lose.

"I'd been packing up my predecessor's office who was a sergeant major and began sorting through some old papers. One of the papers I found was a warrant parchment addressed to Edward H. Trefry dated 1967," says Smith. "I realized that was 56 years ago. Of course, your service record also shows your date of birth and I realized Trefry was 99 years old! I wanted to act fast because it was long overdue."

Smith did a little detective work and reached out to the Border Integrity Team in Niagara (Trefry's last known work address) and eventually discovered he was living with family in Kelowna, British Columbia Then, with the help of local RCMP staff sergeant-major Shelley Wiltse, he arranged for the warrant to be hand-delivered to Trefry, who was unaware of the parchment's existence.

Wiltse contacted Trefry and met with him at his family home in February 2023 for the official presentation.

"When I met with Mr. Trefry he was thrilled to be presented his parchment," says Wiltse. "He told me he planned on framing it and using it as a history lesson for his grandchildren. We talked for a while and he told me many old policing tales about his time as a Mountie."

Date modified: