Adrian Johann Oliver was born March 16, 1984, at the former Grace Hospital in Vancouver, now the B.C. Women’s Hospital and Health Centre. He arrived two months early and about seven minutes before his identical twin brother, Ben. Adrian weighed just three pounds, nine ounces. Ben was a little bigger at three pounds, 11 ounces. Their mother, 20-year-old Katherine Oliver, was flown to Vancouver by air ambulance from Williams Lake, B.C., where her husband, Joe, an RCMP officer, was stationed.
Adrian and Ben spent their first two months in side-by-side incubators in the neo-natal unit. Katherine stayed with them until they weighed five pounds and she could take them home. After that, Adrian and Ben were rarely apart.
They were bubbly sports-mad boys who played hockey, soccer, baseball, football and rugby. Katherine can’t remember ever hearing them fight. “You never thought of one without the other,” she says. Six years later, another brother, Thomas, arrived and the twins took him under their wing. In 1989, Joe was transferred to Woodstock, N.B., and the family moved into a house right beside the RCMP detachment. The twins would watch the officers entering and leaving the building and pretend they were Mounties too.
As little kids, Adrian and Ben vowed to stay together forever. Katherine once overheard them in the bedroom, plotting their futures. “They were going to live in the same apartment building when they grew up. One would live on one side, the other would live across the hall.”
In 1999, Joe was promoted to sergeant in the RCMP’s customs and excise branch in Ottawa. The Olivers settled in Orleans, just east of the city, and the boys enrolled at St. Peter’s High School. Adrian played left wing for the Rockland Nationals, a Junior C hockey team. His coach said he’d never seen a player give so much effort.
The twins went on to Algonquin College and later Carleton University, where they both studied criminology. They shared every single class. Ben typically got the higher grades, “but just by a bit.” Everyone, it seemed, liked the boys with the movie-star good looks. One day, on the bus home from college, a modelling agent handed Adrian a business card. Soon, the twins were flying to the U.S. and Europe on modelling shoots. They never intended to model forever, and their parents were urging them to find more “serious” careers. In 2006, Adrian and Ben wrote the RCMP entrance exams—together.
Ben was accepted first and headed to the RCMP training depot in Regina. It was the twins’ only time apart. When Adrian arrived six months later, some teachers mistook him for Ben. In Regina, Adrian met Shelagh Mitchell, a cadet from Kelowna, B.C. On her first day, he was part of a troop showing newcomers the ropes. When it was Adrian’s turn to speak, his classmates exploded into laughter, Shelagh says. “You could tell that everyone just loved him.” Adrian blushed and bent his head. Two months later, he asked her out.
Shelagh saw the bond between Adrian and Ben. “You could not get in between those two,” she says. “That relationship had to be respected because it was so strong.”
After graduation, Adrian was assigned to the Surrey detachment in B.C.’s Lower Mainland. Shelagh got a job in the Burnaby detachment, where Ben had been working for nearly a year.
Adrian and Shelagh moved into a townhouse beside Burnaby’s Deer Park. Ben was a frequent visitor. The twins jogged in the park and worked out at the Burnaby detachment’s gym. Those were happy years, Ben and Shelagh say.
Adrian took his job seriously, Ben says. He relished the grittier aspects of beat work—the drunken brawls and domestic squabbles—that drive some officers to desk jobs. He thought it was important “to be able to walk into a house where people have problems and be able to resolve them.” But he also had a playful, “goofy” streak, Shelagh says. “If I was cooking in the kitchen, he’d grab me and would make me two-step and spin. He was always in a good mood.”
Six months ago, a unit opened up in their complex. Ben moved in right beside his brother, just as they’d always planned.
On the morning of Nov. 13, Adrian was on duty in Surrey, winding down a 12-hour shift. He was on the lookout for a stolen pickup truck and was driving his unmarked vehicle above the speed limit when he collided with a transport truck. He died at the scene.