||September 10, 2004
Canada's top cop was from
On important community
anniversaries it’s fun to look back on some of the successful people who have
roots in the community. Mattawa, a town of 2,300 is no exception on the 120th
anniversary of its incorporation. I have written about several people with
Mattawa roots that have been of special interest to me – Anahareo, Gordon Dufoe,
John Argo, Mike Rodden and Dr. S.F. Monestine. As with most communities some
make a name for themselves at home while others do so elsewhere.
I recently came across the
story of Mattawa’s Maurice Nadon who lived in Mattawa from 1920 to 1932 and went
on to become the first bilingual Commissioner of the RCMP – Canada’s Top Cop as
the job is sometimes called. He oversaw the introduction of women in the RCMP.
Maurice Nadon’s daughter
Suzanne, a United Church Minister in St. Adele, Quebec contacted me recently
about her native roots on her great grandmother’s side. She has a church at
Kanesatake, 60km west of Montreal, where native issues were front page news in
January when the Grandchiefs house was burned over policing issues. Suzanne,
who has written several books, is doing a history of her family including her
grandfather Zeph Nadon, one of Algonquin Park’s best-known Park Rangers and her
father Maurice who rose through 18 promotions to become RCMP Commissioner from
1974 to 1977.
On a recent vacation with her
father Suzanne visited the family cottage in Radiant in Algonquin Park where her
grandfather lived for much of his 41 year career as a ranger and where her
father spent summers in his childhood. They met me, Gerry Therrien and Rene
Lamarche at the Mattawa Museum where we toured the Museum and later had a
lengthy lunch at Mert’s Restaurant.
||Nadon family in Mattawa in 1928. Maurice is third on the
Maurice’s father Zeph lived in
Mattawa where he and his wife Emma raised 9 children before moving to Ottawa in
1932. Emma came from the Leblanc family who lived on Water Street where her
father Edmond ran a saw mill. Maurice brought along a couple of albums of
photographs, many of which have been copied and are now at the museum. The
Nadon family lived directly across from the Museum in a house that now forms
half of the Smith Funeral Home. Maurice went to school at the old St. Anne’s
school, played many sports in the area, and played on Explorers Point which was
his front yard. He remembers playing Hookstrah, a game I am not familiar with
but which Mike Rodden mentions in his book Anent Michael J. edited by Peter
Handley which describes Mikes early years in the same local as Maurice.
Maurice was presented with
Rodden’s book along with other Mattawa books by Leo Morel, Gerry Therrien, and
Gordon Dufoe. Maurice will donate an RCMP uniform and has provided a photo
display on his life in Mattawa and in the RCMP to the Museum. The career of
Maurice’s father Zeph will also be included. To read about Zeph look for him in
Audrey Saunders’ classic book The Algonquin Story – now in reprint through The
Friends of Algonquin Park. The book tells how Zeph was involved in the famous
caper by Archie Belany (before he became Grey Owl) when Archie tried to
illegally cross the park on snowshoes and got in all kinds of trouble.
In our interview with Maurice
he talked about the family car accident where he was a survivor, but 2 of his
brothers and 4 others died in 1942. He also told us he was colour blind and
could no get into the army so went into the RCMP in 1942. We concluded that his
people skills, his hard work and his administrative ability pushed him through
the ranks and made him Canada’s senior police officer.
||Maurice Nadon with Queen Elizabeth on one of several
occasions he met her.
Maurice and his wife Madeline
visited with the elite of politics and royalty. Maurice was the Co-Grand
Marshall of the Calgary Stampede with Prince Charles and later delivered an RCMP
horse to the Queen with High Commissioner Paul Martin Senior. He enjoyed
talking about when his wife had to buy a hat to be worn a couple of hours and
never again on one occasion. Maurice rubbed shoulders with numerous heads of
countries around the world as a part of security on their Canadian visits.
The icebreaker NADON prior to its trip across the north west passage in
Former RCMP Commissioners have
buildings or boats named after them. The 17.7 meter catamaran ice breaker NADON
is named after Maurice. It became famous in 2000 when it replicated the trip
across the North West Passage originally taken by the St. Roch establishing
Canada’s sovereignty during World War II. The NADON also circumnavigated North
America in 5 months on the same occasion. (For details check Google under Nadon/St.
Maurice enjoys his summers in
his beautiful log home near Bancroft and his winters in his home in Ottawa. He
continues playing tennis, curling, and keeping active and enjoys his family and
friends. We wish him all the best and look forward to seeing his story in the
Museum in Mattawa.
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