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Featured Family Member - Lawrence "Larry" Kavanagh

Jimmy Kavanagh


Sergeant Lawrence Kavanagh, RCMP

One of the most persistent questions every child faces in their formative years is "What do you want to be when grow up dear?" The answer changes frequently but I can still remember the very first career that appealed to me as a young boy. At around the age of ten I was watching a movie set in Canada which involved the Canadian Mounted Police. Few of the films details have survived down through the years - I cannot remember its title or the name of its stars, but two things stood out then and still live in my mind today (1) The Canadian wilderness is a truly breathtaking place where a boy could live for months and not have any contact with anyone, particularly girls and (2) The Mounties ALWAYS get their man. To my mothers relief my attitude towards girls changed as I entered my teenage years.

While browsing some news reports recently I came across a reference to a Sergeant Larry Kavanagh of the Canadian Mounted Police. The childhood memory of a bright red uniform set against the backdrop of the rugged Canadian Rockies suddenly sparked into life, and I immediately set about tracking Larry down. Like the Mounties, the Kavanaghs always get their man and it wasn't long before I was talking to Larry on the telephone.

Around 1825 Larry's ancestor, Thomas Kavanagh left New Ross, County Waterford and travelled to Canada. Thomas settled in St. Johns on the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland where Larry's grandfather, Lawrence was born. Larry's father John met and married Martha Brown and together they reared five children; Judith, Paula, Maria, Larry and Shawn. Born in St. Johns in 1957, Larry attended St. Patrick's Elementary School and  Brother Rice High School before graduating from Memorial University with a degree in 1979. Growing up Larry played a lot of road hockey and watching the ships sail into St. John's harbour. He was always aware of his Irish ancestry and heritage thanks to his family and the fact that Newfoundland is an area rich in Irish tradition and culture.

Larry's grandfather Lawrence was a big influence during his early years. Lawrence worked hard at the United Nail Foundry, which manufactured nails, water buckets and stoves. He was a keen sports enthusiast and neither smoked nor drank throughout his life. A second influence was Mike Williams. Mike gave Larry his first job, aged ten, stocking shelves and packing groceries. Mike also thought his young charge the importance of hard work and to treat everyone fairly and honestly.

It was as a young boy that Larry first took note of the brilliant red tunics of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He knew immediately that he wanted to join their ranks and at the first opportunity made an application. But he was too young at that point and so forced himself to wait until he had graduated from university. In September 1980 he finally signed up and graduated on April 13th the following year. His subsequent career has seen him posted in Nova Scotia, the North West Territories, Ottawa and the Yukon. Currently a sergeant in the Major Crimes Unit at Whitehorse, Capitol city of the Yukon Territory, Larry has just been posted back to Nova Scotia.

For Larry, the best part of being a Mountie is the the contribution he makes to building safe communities across Canada. He also enjoys forming new friendships, which he has done from one end of Canada to the other. But there are downsides to being a law enforcement officer. Larry has witnessed the untimely and senseless demise of many people and he finds the effects of domestic violence on young children particularly hard to bear. In a typical day Larry works an eight to ten hour shift and during that time he will respond to calls for help and follow up on open cases. The calls for help range from requests for assistance following a burglary to locating lost snowboarders and checking on overdue hunters and hikers. An important function of the modern day Mountie is education. Larry and his colleagues take a proactive approach to education, visiting schools to try and build a relationship with the youth in their community. With this approach they hope to steer kids away from trouble rather than have to pick up the pieces later.

Larry met his wife Donna in Nova Scotia in 1985 and they have been married for over fifteen years. They have two boys - Lawrence and Ryan.

You can learn more about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on their website.