Category Archives: Crime

Thomas Scott Executed


“It cannot be said that Riel was hanged on account of his opinion.  It is equally true that he was not executed for anything connected with the late rebellion.  He was hanged for Scott’s murder; that is the simple truth of it.”   —  Wilfrid Laurier, 1885

An event on March 4, 1870, in Fort Garry (now Winnipeg), is still causing political repercussions in Canada.  Louis Riel had Ontario Orangeman, Thomas Scott, executed in the prison yard at Fort Garry.  The outcry in Ontario was so great that Riel was hanged in Regina in 1885, after leading a rebellion on the prairies.  In Quebec, Riel was regarded as a martyr, and the Conservatives were blamed for his death.

Scott’s trial had been held on March 3, 1870, and was called “a council of war.”  It was presided over by Ambroise Lépine, who was one of Riel’s chief aides.  Riel was the prosecutor and one of the three witnesses who were called.  Scott was not allowed to call any witnesses in his own defence.

The charge against Scott was that he had taken up arms against Riel’s provisional government.  It was “phoney” because dozens of others had done the same thing and had been released.,  Later, Riel told federal mediator Donald A. Smith (Lord Strathcona) the real reason.  It was that Scott had been rough and abusive  to the guards and insulting to Riel himself.

When the time came for the execution on March 4, Scott stood before a wall of the prison and was allowed to pray with Methodist minister Young.  He then knelt in the snow, a coffin beside him.  There were six Métis in the firing party, and they had all been drinking.  Three of their rifles contained blank charges so it would not be known who actually fired the bullets that killed Scott.  After the guns blasted the kneeling Scott, another Métis had to dash up with a revolver and put a bullet through his head because he was only wounded.

The body was buried secretly and its resting place has never been found.  It is rumoured  that the coffin was dropped into the river through a hole in the ice.

To continue reading about Thomas Scott, I suggest the following: CBC’s Execution of Thomas Scott; The Execution of Thomas Scott, written by George Siamandas; Execution of Thomas Scott on Canada: A Country by Consent. To read a book, I recommend The Execution of Thomas Scott. Adventures in Canadian History.


Man’s Best Friend Gets Saved!

Yesterday I was approached by a nice young woman requesting a monthly donation to the Ottawa Humane Society.  She told me of a story of a dog named Breezy.  Though I’m sure there are stories like this everywhere, this one was in my city and I hadn’t heard of it.  It doesn’t start happy at all, but there is a happy ending.

Stephen Helfer, 24, owned a Labrador-shepherd mix dog named Breezy.  “Helfer’s attack with a rake and a shovel left Breezy with skull fractures and a swollen brain. Rescuers found her in a garbage bin, where Helfer had tossed her to die.” (Quote from the Ottawa Citizen newspaper article of June 16, 2014.  See link below.)  Several calls came in from people who saw the attack.  It wasn’t long before he was rescued and treated for his injuries.

Helfer was given 1-1/2 credit for his 8 months of pre-trial custody, leaving a sentence of 361 days, he was also prohibited from owning animals for 25 years.  This sentence is the longest ever seen in Ottawa and maybe even in Canada’s history for animal cruelty,

A couple in Gatineau (Quebec), John and Sheila, adopted Breezy.  He is doing very well and is happy in his new home.  You can witness this in the videos below. I don’t know who’s luckier, Breezy or John & Sheila.  But I am happy that I heard the good ending, and not followed it through the stages.  But I do want to commend the Ottawa Humane Society, Leanne Cusak, John, Sheila, Agent Hammond, the Rescue and Investigation Services and everyone else who helped turn this into a happy ending.


Read more at the Ottawa Citizen newspaper’s article and another at CBC Ottawa News.  If you would like to donate to the Ottawa Humane Society, you can go to their site here.


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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo

Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo, image source Facebook

Canadians felt anger and sadness when Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo ( a reservist member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) was fatally shot while taking a turn as part of the Ceremonial Guard watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at 9:50 a.m. on October 22, 2014.

If there is a silver lining here, it is because of Kevin Michael Vickers, Canada’s Sergeant-at-Arms. Kevin Vickers came out of his office carrying a pistol, and shot the gunman.

Kevin Vickars, Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons
Image source:

But what of the National War Memorial (also known as The Response)?

It stands in Confederation Square, Ottawa, and serves as the federal war memorial for Canada.

National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)

H.M. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth unveiling the National War Memorial, Ottawa, Canada, May 21, 1939.

It commemorates the First World War, and was rededicated to include the Second World War and the Korean War. It symbolizes the sacrifice made by every Canadian who has died or may yet die for their country.



The contract for the construction of the arch was awarded in December 1937 and the entire cenotaph was completed on 19 October 1938, after which the landscaping surrounding the memorial was laid out and installed by Toronto contractors. On May 15, 1939, the Post Office Department issued a stamp called National Memorial.

On May 21, the memorial was officially unveiled by George VI, King of Canada, in the presence of an estimated 100,000 people, months before the Second World War began.

The memorial serves as the focal point of Remembrance Day (November 11) ceremonies in Ottawa.

A national scandal arose following Canada Day (July 1) in 2006, when a group of young men were photographed urinating on the memorial at night, after celebrating the national holiday. This incident prompted the establishment of a Guard of Honour at the site, though the soldiers of the Ceremonial Guard are only present between 9 am and 5 pm from June through August. The navy and the air force also do rotations here in the summer months.

Yesterday, a Canadian Forces soldier on ceremonial duty at the memorial was shot and killed by an armed man. The gunman then crossed the street and entered the Centre Block building of the nearby Canadian Parliament complex, where a firefight ensued between the shooter and members of building security. A security guard was wounded and the suspect was killed. The slain soldier was Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, from Hamilton, Ontario.

Whenever the monarch or another member of the Royal Family is in Ottawa, they will, regardless of the date, lay a wreath at the monument. Other prominent dignitaries who have laid wreaths at the memorial include President of the United States John F. Kennedy in 1961 and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990.

Let us never forget.


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The Exchange Bandit

Inside a casino

Original uploader was Ingolfson at en.wikipedia

Further to yesterday’s post of a bank robber, I am inviting you today to meet another Canadian bank robber: Kevin John Pinto.

A former financier, as vice-president at an investment firm, he was also known as the Exchange Bandit because of his habit of engaging bank tellers in conversation about U.S. exchange rate before giving them a holdup note.

Beginning in 2002, Pinto robbed 10 banks throughout Ontario; in October 2008, he surrendered to police. He then pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Pinto would commit his robberies during his lunch hour.  He was a compulsive gambler who turned to crime in trying to pay his accumulated gambling debts, which far outweighed the total amount he stole.

Pinto is out now, and he says the corrections system doesn’t know how to properly handle gambling addiction.  In 2012, he shared his experiences at the  Ontario Problem Gambling Provincial Forum, along with health experts such as researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.  He wants to help gamblers, and get the word out there that gambling should be better recognized as an addiction.  He suffered withdrawal, like nightmares and major anxiety, just like other addiction.  He says the corrections system just don’t know how to handle gambling addicts.



Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Crime, Medium Entries


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Machine Gun Molly

In this post, I’d like to write a little about Monica Proetti, a bank robber.

Pic of Monica Proietti

Monica Proietti, mieux connue sous le nom de « Monica la mitraille », était voleuse de banques et héros populaire. Date 5 September 2007 Source Own work Author:  Hellebore


Monica Proietti, was born on February 25, 1940; she died on September 19, 1967.  She was a Montreal bank robber and folk hero better known as “Machine Gun Molly” and in French, she is known as Monica la Mitraille.

Monica came from a poor Montreal family, and crime was not foreign in the house.  For instance, her grandmother served time in jail for receiving stolen goods; she reportedly ran a school for crime for the neighbourhood children.

In 1956, at the age of 17, Monica married Anthony Smith, a Scottish gangster, who was 33 years old. The couple had two children. Smith was deported from Canada in 1962. She then became romantically involved with Viateur Tessier, but he was jailed in 1966 for armed robbery.

When she was 19, four of her seven siblings perished in a fire in downtown Montreal.

Monica and her accomplices held up more than 20 banks, stealing over an estimated $100,000. On September 19, 1967 Monica died after crashing into a bus and being shot twice by an undercover police officer following a high-speed chase through the north-end of Montreal. Reportedly, this was to have been her last bank robbery, intended to fund a new life in Florida.

A 2004 Quebec film Monica la Mitraille (Machine Gun Molly in English) was loosely based on her life. The film was adapted from the book Souvenirs de Monica by Georges-Hébert Germain.


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Black History Month Part Four

Continuing with our series of Black History Month, allow me to introduce you to Viola Davis Desmond, a woman who suffered over something so simple and by doing so, helped in the fight for human rights in Canada.

Image of stamp celebrating Viola Davis Desmond's human right's efforts

Viola Davis Desmond

Ms. Desmond was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1914. A businesswoman, she ran her own beauty parlor and beauty college. On November 8, 1946, while waiting for her car to be fixed at a garage across the street, she decided to go see a movie in the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow. She refused to sit in the balcony, which was designated exclusively for Blacks. Instead, she sat on the ground floor, which was for Whites only. She was forcibly removed and arrested. Viola was found guilty of not paying the one-cent difference in tax on the balcony ticket. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail and paid a $26 fine, that’s approximately $251.30 in 2010!

The trial that followed, mainly focused on the issue of tax evasion. Dissatisfied with the verdict, the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, with Viola’s help, took the case to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. The conviction was upheld.

Desmond acted nine years before the famed incident by civil-rights activist Rosa Parks, with whom Desmond is often compared.

After the trial, Desmond closed her business and then moved to Montreal where she could enroll in a business college. She eventually settled in New York where she died on February 7, 1965 at the age of 50.

On April 15, 2010, the province of Nova Scotia granted an official apology and a free pardon to Viola. Lieutenant-Governor Mayann Francis, the first black person to serve as the Queen’s representative in the province of Nova Scotia, presided. Viola’s 83-year-old sister, Wanda Robson, was there to accept the apology. Premier Darrell Dexter also apologized to Viola’s family and all black Nova Scotians for the racism she was subjected to in an incident he called unjust.

In 2000, Desmond and other Canadian civil rights activists were the subject of a National Film Board of Canada documentary Journey to Justice.

To get more information about Ms. Desmond I suggest visiting Historica Canada, and Black Past.


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Black History in Canada, Part Two

As we continue our series on Black History Month, allow me to introduce you to Marie-Joseph Angélique.

The Hanging of Angelique by Afua Cooper.

Marie-Joseph Angélique was a slave owned by François Poulin de Francheville in Montreal.

In 1734, there was a fire that started at the Francheville’s home and  destroyed forty-six buildings in the colony, including the Hôtel-Dieu hospital. Some have alleged that Marie-Joseph set the fire to cover up her plan to escape slavery with her white lover.

She was found, brought to trial and, after 40 hours of torture confessed to the crime. The evidence, however was very circumstantial. Her sentence, death by hanging, was carried out on June 21, 1734, in front of the burned remains of the Francheville’s home.

The very best place to get the full story about today’s post is at Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History – once there, I suggest you visit the site for so much more! There is also a pretty good article at Hour Community by Richard Burnett.

To get a copy of the book by Afua Cooper, Hanging Of Angelique, CLICK HERE.


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