Constable James Henry Blackett’s gravesite was surrounded by a sea of Red Serge on Saturday afternoon when the RCMP Veterans Association held a rededication ceremony at St Mary’s Cemetery in Souris for the former member of the Northwest Mounted Police.
Frank Blackett, who was among the three dozen members of the public who attended, learned he was a relative of Corporal Blackett (1859-1933) after a story in The Graphic last month led Conor Mullally to research for a connection.
“It was wonderful to be able to be here,” Mr Blackett, a resident of Colville Manor in Souris, said.
Mr Mullally’s search led him to determine Constable Blackett and Mr Blackett’s father were first cousins.
Another lady in attendance, Donna (Harris) Flynn realized she must be a relative when she read about the rededication in the church bulletin last week.
“My grandmother was Annie Laurie Blackett (Frank’s aunt),” Ms Flynn said, noting it was nice to attend the ceremony.
Richard MacAulay, a retired RCMP officer responsible for finding Constable Blackett’s gravesite, said the ceremony was perfect.
Thirty RCMP officers past and present and other dignitaries paraded in silence from the church to the gravesite.
“It was great so many members of L Division were able to attend,” he said. “It worked out great.”
At the gravesite Mr MacAulay recounted Constable Blackett’s history and noted they did find several other family members in Charlottetown and England.
That was followed by prayers and speeches.
The RCMP Veteran’s Association unveiled a simple black stone adorn with the NWMP crest, 3501 Constable and the date of Corporal Blackett’s birth and death. A general salute followed to end the ceremony.
The search for Const Blackett’s gravesite began four years ago when the RCMP Veteran’s Association took over caring for members gravesites.
Mr MacAulay said while the search for the resting place of Const Blackett is over, their job isn’t.
“We’re not done yet,” he said. “Thirty-two members left PEI in 1900 to join the force and we are still following up on several of those names.”
The association would like the public to let them know of anyone they may have overlooked.
The association website is www. rcmpvetspei.ca or they can be reached by phone at (902) 892-3610.