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Const. Michael Potvin, 26, drowned in the Stewart River near Mayo, Yukon, after the RCMP boat he was in capsized on July 13. ((RCMP))

A Yukon RCMP constable who drowned in a river this summer was remembered at the police force's memorial service to honour its fallen officers.

Const. Michael Potvin, 26, died after the RCMP boat he and another officer were in capsized in the Stewart River near Mayo, Yukon, on July 13.

The other officer stayed with the overturned boat and was rescued, but Potvin disappeared in the river as he tried to swim to shore. His body was found on July 30.

Potvin becomes the 16th Yukon RCMP officer to have died in the line of duty since 1895, when the police force came to the territory. All 16 officers' names were read aloud at the RCMP's memorial service Sunday in Whitehorse.

Members of Potvin's family attended the service, sitting in the front row at the Whitehorse United Church along with more than two dozen RCMP officers.

"We are not here today to mourn these brave members of our family, but rather to remember them," Const. Cam Lockwood said during the service.

Harsh elements

"After all, it's not how they died for which we will remember them, but how they lived."

It had been more than 30 years since the Yukon RCMP had lost one of its own members in the line of duty. In February 1979, Const. Mark McLachlan died in a car crash northwest of Whitehorse.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the harsh northern elements have been responsible for many RCMP deaths. In February 1911, four Mounties died from exposure, starvation and exhaustion as part of the ill-fated "Lost Patrol" between Fort MacPherson, N.W.T., and Dawson City, Yukon.

The first RCMP officer to die in the line of duty in Yukon was Special Const. Stick Sam, who drowned while on patrol in the Kaskawulsh River in 1903. Potvin is the fifth fallen officer to have drowned in the territory.

Sunday's memorial service was part of the RCMP's Police and Peace Officers' National Memorial Day, which was observed across the country last weekend.