Archie Thompson has faced a number of substantial obstacles during his 29 years of service with the RCMP.
The new detachment commander for Whitehorse, once stationed in the remote Labrador community of Forteau, came face-to-face with a 1,000-pound polar bear he was tasked with scaring away.
“They would come ashore sometimes and we had to close the highway off,” he said.
“The last thing we wanted to do was put the bear down but if people got too close, it’s something we had to consider. One day this big polar bear was on the road and turned around, then walked towards me.”
Thomson stood his ground and pointed a shotgun at the intimidating beast.
All of a sudden, a local elder came up behind him and leaned in.
“Sonny, I hope you got more than bird shot in that thing.”
With that, fortunately, the bear turned around and walked away.
While it’s unlikely for Thompson to stare down any polar bears this winter, a wide range of challenging criminal and social issues await him in Whitehorse.
Formerly a major crime investigator and operational policy writer at the RCMP national headquarters in Ottawa, he believes his capacity to listen and bring people together will serve him well in Whitehorse.
“I’m a good listener,” he said, “and I like to make contact and develop relationships.”
“What’s worked for me in the past is not dictating what people need but rather finding out what their priorities are, and what kind of initiatives I can put into place to address those.”
One of those initiatives involved partnering with business groups near Halifax, N.S. and finding new ways to cut down on the high rate of break-and-enters.
Together they found ways to make break-in prone buildings more visible at night with additional lighting.
The RCMP also increased its presence in the area, and over time the strategies led to 34 per cent fewer break-and-enters.
“The crime rate will never go down to zero, but they were very pleased with the initiatives,” he said.
Thompson was house hunting in Whitehorse this week and will come back to the city shortly before officially starting on July 11.
Raised in Nova Scotia, he has extensive experience working with First Nations communities in the Maritimes and was called on to elaborate on those during an extensive interview process that included the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and Ta’an Kwach’an Council.
“I was able to refer to examples of when I’ve worked with the Inuit in Labrador or the Micmac in Nova Scotia,” he said.
“I’m open to making contact with all parts of the community. I don’t have all the answers to all the problems, but I’m sure I can work with people.”
An avid outdoorsman and hockey player, he said he and his family – wife Liz and daughter Sara – are looking forward to taking advantage of everything Whitehorse has to offer.
Contact Myles Dolphin at