The RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador has honoured 22 women in recognition of their support and unpaid services while they were stationed with their RCMP officer husbands in rural and remote locations.
"I was doing everything," said Ethel Jarvis, 92, one of Friday's recipients of the "Second Man" award at RCMP headquarters in St. John's.
Jarvis said her family lived in many communities on the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador, as her husband, Dick Jarvis, first a Newfoundland Ranger then an RCMP officer, got transferred from post to post.
Jarvis said in each community, the family always lived in the same building where her husband worked.
While her husband was away from the detachment, Jarvis answered phones, hosted visiting police officers, and cooked for whoever was in the detachment, and sometimes even acted as a guard.
"People who used to give trouble, there was no cell, you used to put them in the office and stay up all night with them," said Jarvis.
Life and work enjoyable, occasionally scary
Jarvis said doing work at the detachment was often enjoyable but sometimes frightening.
She recalled a day in Burgeo, when her husband was out on a call, and he was forced to leave her with a rambunctious, mentally ill patient.
Jarvis said the man kept calling for her husband, and when she went to check on him, the prisoner had escaped his holding area, and was pacing in the RCMP office, with a knife on a desk.
Jarvis said she spoke to the prisoner through a thin sheet of glass.
"I said, 'What do you need, anyway?' he said 'I need a razor,' and I said, 'What do you need that for?' And he said, 'So I can cut my throat.'"
"And I said, 'Just a minute, I'll see if I can help you.'"
Ethel and Dick Jarvis were married for 65 years, and he passed away in May.
Jarvis said she will wear her Second Man badge in honour of her husband and policing partner.