It’s been 20 years since the first and only Waterloo Regional Police officer died in the line of duty. There’ll be a special ceremony later this month to mark the occasion.
On Aug. 12, 1998, Const. David Nicholson attempted to rescue 12-year-old Mark Gage from the waters of the Parkhill Dam in Cambridge. Both lost their lives.
The memorial service will be held on August 12 in nearby Mill Race park.
“Constable Nicholson paid the ultimate sacrifice when he was called to serve that day,” said Chief Bryan Larkin in a statement. “He was a proud member of our service and displayed a commitment to the community that was both selfless and heroic. While we continue to mourn the loss of Constable Nicholson and Mark Gage, we must also continue to celebrate their lives and honour their memories.”
The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. Local dignitaries, retired and current members of the WRPS, including Larkin and retired chief Larry Gravill, will join members of the Gage and Nicholson family to reflect on and celebrate their lives.
“It’s really a chance for the community to come together again,” said WRPS spokesperson Cherri Greeno. “Twenty years ago, the community all joined together to pray and hope for the rescue, and again they came together in their sorrow to mourn the loss of Constable Nicholson and Mark Gage. So this is an opportunity for the whole community to come together again to remember [them].”
Celebrating the memory will also go beyond the ceremony. To honour Nicholson, all members of the Waterloo Regional Police Service will wear a silver commemorative pin during the month of August. The pin replicates a badge containing Nicholson’s badge number 589.
“It’s a chance to recognize and represent what Constable Nicholson believed in every day as he carried that badge,” said Larkin. “Honour, dignity, integrity, and commitment to keeping members of Waterloo Region safe. By wearing this pin, we will be honouring an officer who truly was our hero in life, not death.”
There have been other ceremonies in the past, including a 10-year memorial service in 2008.
“We do things to remember Constable Nicholson and Mark Gage every year,” said Greeno. “This year to mark the 20th anniversary we wanted to do something a little more special that included the entire community because, really, it was something that truly impacted everyone in the community.”
The location of Mill Race Park was chosen due to its proximity to Parkhill Dam, where the incident took place, in addition to its ability to accommodate a large crowd of people.
Nicholson is the only officer in the service’s 45-year long history to die in the line of duty.