Staff Sgt Tipple counting the days to retirement

Barb Sweet
Published on May 20, 2014
RCMP Staff Sgt. Major Dave Tipple is retiring in June after 44 years with the RCMP. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

RCMP Staff Sgt. Major Dave Tipple will perform one last troop inspection June 20, shortly before he finishes his more than 44-year career.

He is the longest-serving Mountie in the province.

Tipple accepted an invitation in 1970 to head off to the training depot in Regina, Sask. As he neared graduation, Tipple was expecting to head back East. So when a friend invited him to his parents’ home in Swan River, Man., for Labour Day weekend that year, Tipple accepted, thinking it was possibly his last chance to see the one province he hadn’t been to.

“Two weeks later, lo and behold, guess where I am, on the way to Flin Flon, gone east, east of Regina. And I am sitting in his parents’ kitchen having lunch,” recalled Tipple, proudly wearing his Red Serge in the White Hills headquarters recently as he answered The Telegram’s 20 questions.

His service eventually included heading East to Prince Edward Island. He then came back to Newfoundland as a member of the Glovertown detachment in 1976.

His duties over the years have included customs and excise, drug enforcement and national intelligence.

Tipple has served at the G8 Summit in Toronto,  the Francophone Summit in Moncton,  the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver/Whistler and the G20 Summit in Toronto.

Tipple has also been assigned to protective duties for several members of the Royal Family, several prime ministers and governors general, Pope John Paul II and numerous heads of state.

In 2008 he was a member of the RCMP ceremonial troop that performed in Hamburg, Berlin and Cologne.  Also during that tour he visited Vimy Ridge Memorial and Beaumont Hamel in France.

Those experiences had a profound effect, Tipple said.

“On the ceremonial troop, there were two of us who were from Newfoundland and we had the opportunity to lay a poppy at the Beaumont Hamel memorial.

“I had always heard that visiting Beaumont Hamel was kind of serene and eerie and I didn’t quite understand that concept until I went there, and it was,” he recalled.

“It was very quiet. You could hear a dog bark three miles away. It was quite a humbling experience. And the whole trip to go to Germany and represent Canada at a world-class event was something else.”

In 2009 Tipple was promoted to RCMP staff sergeant major for Newfoundland and Labrador, the highest grade of rank for non-commissioned officers in the province.

He has also been awarded several medals, including the Member of Merit of the Police Forces.

He and his wife, Valgene, have two sons, Mark and Sean, an RCMP officer stationed at Trinity Conception.

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What is your full name?

David Raymond Tipple.


Where and when were you born?

Corner Brook in January 1949, just before Confederation.


Where is home today?

St. John’s. That’s where I am going to retire.


What was one act of rebellion

you committed as a youth?

My grandparents had a number of fruit trees. When the apples and plums would come out, I would go with my buddies and we would take my grandparent’s fruit from the trees. We got caught. It was a couple of nights confined to my bedroom.


What was your favourite year?

The year I got married, 1974, and of course the birth of my two boys — ’76 and ’78.


What inspired you to join the RCMP?

I think I always wanted to be a Mountie. Like all young boys it was either a Mountie, a fireman, a cowboy. Cowboys were out. I was going to trade school at the time in Corner Brook taking a millwright course, but in the back of my mind it was always there — a career in the RCMP. I had made application prior to going to trade school and while there, the opportunity came and I was selected to go to Regina. Off I went for six months’ training.


What’s the funniest thing

that’s happened to you?

There are a number. I have a great fear of heights and I was stationed in northern Manitoba at the time. It was one of the situations where I had to notify a fellow of a death in his family and he was a forest ranger. His duties were he stayed in a fire tower in a remote area. I was flown in by float plane, dropped off and made my way to the fire tower. It was a bit windy and shout as I may, I couldn’t get his attention. The plane was now gone and I was there on the ground banging on the ladder. It was quite high. I said, ‘I just got to do it.’ I made my way up and it was one of those where you tap on the floor and the hatch comes up. I got up and now I am there and how am I going to get down? Everything went through my mind — they are going to have to cut a hole in the roof, a chopper is going to have to come and get me out of there and all this kind of stuff. Finally, after quite a long period of time, the forest ranger was able to climb down with me. Otherwise I can face the devil.


What was your toughest day on the job?

There was no one particular day. There was a number of days, when there is a sudden death or a fatality, especially if there are children involved.


What was your best day on the force?

There is a number, but I had the opportunity to go to Rideau Hall and receive the Member of Merit of Police Forces medal from Gov.-Gen. Michaëlle Jean. I had the opportunity to take my family and my brother from Corner Brook. That was a very proud moment for me.


What is the first thing you want to do

in retirement?

Spend more time with my grandchildren, my three grandsons Parker, Spencer and Samuel. I find they are growing too fast, so I want to chase them around.


What is your favourite food?

Chinese food. Everyone has a place in the world they would like to visit. China was mine and I had the opportunity to visit on vacation.


Who would play you in a movie

about your life?

Who played “Officer and a Gentleman?” — Richard Gere.


If you could visit or live in another time, what would that be and why?

The 1930s because of the stories my father and mother and my grandparents shared with me. Their stories, bar none, all seemed to be — although I guess it was a lot more hardship — the stories they told me all seemed to be fun ones.


What’s the best or coolest thing

you have ever done?

I don’t know if it was cool, but it was different. When I was stationed in Thompson, Man., there was a series of incidents that took place where girls were being sexually attacked. It happened over a period of time. We had no clues whatsoever. We had exhausted everything we could do to find this person. There was a public outcry, a lot of pressure on the NCO in charge and the force in general. You have to remember there were no females on the force, so we couldn’t use a female undercover operator to catch this. We brainstormed and my corporal came up with this wild idea. ‘Maybe you can dress up as a female and go out.’ Needless to say, not being the prettiest female out there, I dressed up. (The attacks) always happened late at night. We knew a knife was used every occasion. Night after night after night I would be dropped off at 10 or 11 o’clock and I would walk and walk and walk and I would have cover people in bushes and wherever. We also knew he wore pantyhose. And this one night I got dropped off in this remote area. I kind of glanced back and I could see in the dark, as plain as anything, this motion rolling on the pantyhose and sure enough. The ironic point of it was I was the furthest point away from my cover people when he approached me. He approached me with the knife and an altercation took place and it put an end to the assaults.


What is your favourite music?

Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven and The Cobblestones’ Feet Of A Dancer.

When my first grandchild was born in Nova Scotia, I wasn’t there for it. My wife called to tell me we had a grandson and Feet of A Dancer was playing on the radio. It stayed in my mind and that grandson (Parker) loves to dance.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

Living a successful and healthy life with my family. Fortunately for me, my kids and grandkids are in the area. I can see them when I want to see them and partake in their school events and sports.


Who inspires you?

I think my wife does. She keeps me on the straight and narrow. Not that I stray from the straight and narrow, but she’s here to support me and always has.


Do you have any hidden talent?

No, I can’t sing and I can’t dance.


What is your most treasured possession?

From a RCMP perspective, probably my medals. I have received five of them.


Who is one person, living or deceased, you’d love to have lunch with?

My parents, who are both deceased, Raymond and Caroline.