Last month we remembered Constable Albert Chartrand, crew member on board the St. Roch from 1938 - 1942.

On the 13th of February 1942, Albert Joseph Chartrand suffered a fatal heart attack some time after returning from a 489-mile patrol with an Inuit guide, named Equalla, to King William Island.

“There was nothing anyone of us could have done to help him, and we were completely stunned,” wrote Larsen. It was the only death suffered by the St. Roch’s crew in the line of duty. Shortly after Chartrand’s death, Larsen, Equalla and Constable Pat Hunt made the longest patrol of the voyage, in part to contact a Catholic priest Father Gustav Henri, who lived 400 miles away, so that he could travel to the ship in the spring and conduct a funeral for Chartrand. The 1,140-mile trek lasted from February through May. Larsen and Hunt reached Gjoa Haven by dog sled before turning back, and returned to the ship after a 71-day absence on May 6. Two weeks later, Father Henri arrived, and a requiem mass was held for Chartrand. The constable was buried on a nearby hill, and the priest blessed the grave. Before they sailed, Chartrand’s shipmates marked the site with a 15-foot-high rock cairn that remains there to this day.”

Arctic Workhorse: The RCMP Schooner St. Roch by James P. Delgado

In an extract from the film, ‘Through the North-West Passage 1940-42’, you can see footage of Chartrand’s burial on Boothia Peninsula and his fellow crewmembers building the cairn by his grave.

Born October 8th 1904 in Ottawa, he joined the RCMP at the age of 21. From accounts the Museum has in our archives it is easy to see that “Frenchy” Chartrand was an admired member of the crew; remembered particularly for his skills with dogs and cooking, both talents that were incredibly useful in the North.

“Most northern men can remember eating caribou so tough you couldn’t stick a fork in the gravy, but Frenchy could turn out caribou steaks that simply melted in your mouth.”

Frenchy’s Wolf by Derek Parkes for RCMP Quarterly

Quotes: Arctic Workhorse: The RCMP Schooner St. Roch, James P. Delgado, 2003, p34-35 

Frenchy’s Wolf by Derek Parkes for RCMP Quarterly, p44 July 1971.

Photos: VMM. Leonard McCann Archives. St. Roch Photograph Collection. "Chartrand in Arctic b C55 c AP56" Item number HCRO-40-04.

VMM. Leonard McCann Archives. St. Roch Photograph Collection.

Film: VMM. Leonard McCann Archives. "Through the North-West Passage 1940-1942". Shot by Corporal F.S. Farrar.