A relatively brief stay on the North Coast for Inspector Wayne Maughan of the RCMP turned into the perfect place to leave the force.
After arriving on the North Coast in 2013, the London, Ontario-born and Alberta-raised officer had heard things about B.C. and the coast, but hadn’t ever experienced it for himself.
The inspector went before Prince Rupert city council as part of the interview process, and former Mayor Jack Mussallem and city council installed Maughan as the top dog of the Rupert RCMP detachment in the summer of 2013, and that would be where the officer stayed up until April 13 of this year, where the longtime officer retired from the force.
Now, the RCMP are looking for a new inspector, but in the meantime, Maughan and his members look back fondly on the past few years that was mostly quiet in the peaceful northwest corner of Canada.
“It was a real good experience. I just wish I could have been here a little longer. I ran out of time, I got old,” joked the inspector last week.
Coming from a family of eight, and with his dad in the air force, serving and protecting the public wasn’t always top of mind for Maughan, especially in his early teens. It was hockey.
“When I was 16, I left home and went and played with the Edmonton Oil Kings for a few years,” Maughan explained.
The renowned junior hockey organization was more of a farm team in those days.
“It was called the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League and the first coach I ever had was [former Detroit Red Wings’ defenceman] Bill Gadsby.”
Maughan then played in Minnesota for one year before beginning his career off the ice. Before that though, came his marriage to Marilyn.
In the early years of his career, while Maughan did spend four years with the force, the prairie-raised officer was a social worker for the Alberta government, sold travel, insurance and real estate, ran a hotel business with his brother-in-law, worked as a highway patrol with the province and was an Alberta liquor control board inspector before being re-hired with the RCMP after nine years away.
It’s not that he couldn’t hold a job, Maughan said, but that he wanted to experience the business climate a little more, including working with Marilyn’s father up until he passed away.
Returning to the force included a hectic stop in Fort Qu’Appelle, SK.
“Fort Qu’Appelle was my first posting back in the RCMP in 1988 and it was a real busy detachment – lots of alcohol and drug problems and that kind of thing,” said Maughan.
From there, the officer joined the detachment in Regina. As part of the Custom and Excise unit in the province’s capital, the officer and his team took down a million dollar-plus jewellery smuggling operation.
One of the reasons Maughan was well-equipped for the job in Prince Rupert was his history of cultivating relationships with First Nations residents.
“I found [talking with First Nations people] up and down the coast on the islands just a great experience. The people have so much culture and celebrate it so vividly,” Maughan said.
The inspector’s goals included developing those relationships with the First Nations bands, but also forming ties with the youth in the community. Both missions were accomplished thanks to his team, said the modest supervisor.
“My members did a lot of work for me. I’m the leader and the members – they make you look good is what they do. All the praise goes to them,” he said.
A typical day isn’t too hectic in Prince Rupert, Maughan said. Most of the day would be spent within the green to orange zone (of emergency readiness) and rarely in the red (or hot) zone.
“It can be a quiet day and all of a sudden at the end of the day you’ve got a fatal collapse, or fire or shooting, or big assault or a big fight and then you’re in the red zone and ready to go. My day as the OIC (officer in charge) is basically supervising my operational NCO (non-commissioned officer), whose job was to do the operational part of the office and come to me for advice if he needed it,” Maughan said, adding that in extreme cases like the Safeway bomb threat last year, he would meet with the corporal on duty and the staff sergeant, as well as the fire chief and city administration.
“At the end of the day, when it came to the final call, that’s where the OIC makes the call and overlooks it all … My job was a management job basically, but you’re responsible to attend certain incidents that are major.”
The detachment held a small send-off party for Maughan when he announced his retirement and just last week he began the trek home to Camrose, AB with Marilyn to be closer to his three grown kids and multiple grandkids. His admiration for his wife, who has been through thick and thin throughout Maughan’s career, knows no bounds.
“We’re out all the time in the streets working shifts and the spouses don’t get enough praise or admiration for what they do, because there’s been incidents in Saskatchewan where we’re involved in shootings and my wife didn’t even know if I was shot or coming home,” he said.
Prince Rupert RCMP Sergeant Dave Uppal loved working under Maughan for the last year, and says he’ll miss his leadership.
“He was an excellent supervisor,” he said last week.
“He’s always fair, very knowledgeable. He brought a wealth of knowledge with him from Saskatchewan when he came here … He wasn’t a commanding, control type of leader. He was more calm, cool and obviously somebody you can go to if you had concerns, very compassionate … As situations escalated he seemed to de-escalate things.
“He’s definitely going to be missed here. [He’s] not a micro-manager by any means, you learn to make your own mistakes and that’s a good quality of a leader, somebody who sits back and watches what you’re doing but interjects when he has to,” said Uppal.
And as much as Wayne and Marilyn are looking forward to seeing their family more often, it’s becoming quite the task to actually leave the North Coast.
“Prince Rupert, in all honesty, has probably been one of the best postings that I’ve had, even though it’s been so short … if our kids were closer, we probably wouldn’t be going anywhere,” he said.