She was the “second man”

Danette Dooley
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Grand Falls-Windsor woman recognized for her contributions to the RCMP

Special to The Advertiser

Taking calls about Peeping Toms, bandaging cuts and serving your last turkey to RCMP top brass – these are just some of the things Barbara Daye did as wife of a police officer stationed in a one-man detachment.

“When the commanding officer and other big shots came down (to Battle Harbour) to do inspections of the detachment, I had to feed them. I had four frozen turkey when I went down there. I had to feed them with my last one. There was nowhere else for them to go. But they said thank-you when they were leaving,” Daye said during a recent telephone interview from her home in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Barbara’s husband, Art Daye, is originally from Nova Scotia. He joined the RCMP in 1957. His first posting was to Corner Brook in November, 1958. He spent his entire career – which spanned almost 25 years – policing in this province.

In addition to larger centres such as Grand Falls-Windsor, he policed in various outports such as St. Anthony, Stephenville, Harbour Grace, Burgeo, Port Saunders, and numerous remote communities in the Big Land.

He was the last RCMP officer to be stationed at Battle Harbour. Located on Battle Island, off Labrador’s southeast coast, Battle Harbour had only a few dozen people at the time.

During his years as a young unmarried constable, Art was sent to fill in for officers who were on holidays or away from their postings for other reasons.

Oftentimes, the postings were to rural areas, he said.

Art met Barbara while skating at the rink in Grand Falls-Windsor – though he had his eyes on her before he found a chance to introduce himself.

“She used to walk by our office every day on her way to work. And then I saw her at the skating rink.”

Like most wives of RCMP officers, Barbara uprooted with her husband wherever he was sent. Their two children (Bob and Leslie) were just babies when they arrived in Battle Harbour.

“The winter we were there, there were only 39 people there. Four of them were Barb and I and our two kids. There was a special constable and his wife and three kids. So that made up nine of the 39 people there,” Arts said.

While Art patrolled by boat in summer and snowmobile in winter, Barb was left holding down the fort and caring for their two young children.

“I’d take all the notes when Artie was away. I’d answer the police radio and pass the message along to him when he got home,” Barbara said.

“I could be gone for two days or if the weather was bad, I could be gone for a week. Bobbie was two-and-a half. Leslie was seven months,” Art added of the couple’s posting to Battle Harbour almost 50 years ago.

Some of the many hats Barbara wore included a weather forecaster’s hat. It wasn’t unusual for people to call to ask what it was like on the island, she said.

“I’d look out the window and I’d say well, I can see down to Mrs. Luther’s house so it must be okay for about a quarter of a mile,” Barbara laughed.

Add to the bitter cold winter, a home where wind would cause the curtains to blow straight out from the window – made for cold days and ever colder nights.

“Barb would take our little girl and go in one bed and I would take our son in the other sleeping bag and go in the other bed,” Art recalled.

“I used to say to Artie, make sure his hands are not outside the sleeping bag. It was a hard go for a girl from Grand Falls… I wasn’t used to that.”



Second Man Award

Barbara was one of 22 women from this province who have been recognized for their invaluable contribution to the RCMP.

Although weather prevented the Dayes from attending the “Second Man” recognition ceremony at RCMP Headquarters in St. John’s in December, Barbara has since received her unique broach in the shape of the RCMP crest for her unpaid service as the wife of a police officer who was stationed in one or two-man detachments from 1940's -1970's .

Over 460 women have been presented with the award across the country.

RCMP Asst. Comm. Tracy Hardy, Commanding Officer of the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador, said the awards’ presentation was an opportunity to recognize the women’s dedication and commitment to their spouses and the work of the RCMP.

While unpaid for the work, the women answered phones, searched female prisoners, provided prisoner meals, used their homes as a hotel for visiting senior officers, court Judges, doctors and nurses to whom they also provided meals and entertainment – all while living in remote locations with inadequate housing and growing families of their own.

Retired Chief Superintendent George Powell, representing the RCMP Veterans’ Association, was masters of ceremonies at the event.

“The men were married to the force first and to their wife second… they faithfully supported the Mounties,” Powell said noting that many of the first RCMP officers in Newfoundland were initially members of the Newfoundland Rangers who transferred to the RCMP when the force assumed responsibility for policing in 1950.

In addressing the women to be honoured, Powell said, “When the Mountie, your husband, was away the citizens still came to the office or to your living quarters. They expected the Mountie’s wife to do everything the Mountie would do if he were there. Sometimes, the women would come to the Mounties’ wife because they were uncomfortable discussing personal things with a man.”

While the Mountie’s wife has no official status, Powell said, she was a full-fledged member of the detachment and played a leading role in the community.

“Visiting government officials expected to be welcomed and fed at the Mounties’ house. After all it was a government building even if it was upstairs over the post office or court house or over the jail,” Powell said.



For better or worse

Art and Barbara have four grandchildren. Their families are living in Grand Falls-Windsor and Corner Brook.

Looking back on their years of their marriage, Barbara said while things weren’t always easy she has no regrets about choosing a Mountie as her life’s partner.

The RCMP was a great career for her husband, she said.

Art and Barbara’s love is as strong today as it was when they married over half-a-century ago.

She never once regretted her decision to marry a Mountie.

“I wouldn’t leave Artie for millions of dollars. You followed your husband wherever they went. That was it.”

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Battle Harbour, Grand Falls-Windsor, Grand Falls Newfoundland and Labrador Corner Brook Nova Scotia St. Anthony Port Saunders Battle Island

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