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“Like a giant can opener … and he fell right through…”

John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted"...

John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted” filming a segment for his show in the studios of the show in the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On March 26, 2002, inmate Raymond John Tudor was reported missing from the medium security Drumheller Institution, in Alberta.

You might assume that this was a simple case of a prisoner who jumped the walls and escaped custody, and would be recaptured after a day or two nearby. This story, however, I found particularly interesting.

The 48-year old double murderer was said to have a “shake and stutter” and many thought it was Parkinson’s disease. He had also neglected his beard and it looked quite straggly.  When he was reported missing, then, it was suggested that he had been planning the escape for years, and that once on the outside, he would shave and drop the pose.

For eight weeks he was hunted across North America, and was even profiled on “America’s Most Wanted” television show.

The police suspected he might show up in nearby Carseland, where Tudor had lived.  Some of the citizens were concerned as well, because they had testified against Tudor in court.  Many couldn’t understand what he was even doing in a medium security prison, having killed twice.

His escape was a mystery. Of course a full-scale search was done, but that failed to find him.   Apparently, there is only one place where an escape could theoretically be done, and it’s manned by officers who check everyone going in or out.  Basically, he would have had to climb a fence to get out of there.

But there is a big problem with that scenario: The fence is topped with flesh-ripping razors, and there are sensors, with alarms, on the ground and fence. These alarms were tested and they were working perfectly and weren’t triggered.

Then, finally, a prison employee eyed Tudor in the vent above him, while in the workshop!

High tech gear was brought in, such as thermal imaging, remote cameras, and sound equipment.  They even brought in a five-year old German Shepherd dog, Taz.  Sure enough, when Taz entered the workshop, he found the inmate hiding in the ductwork six metres high.  So the RCMP climbed onto the roof, sent in a remote camera, and pinpointed his location.  Then they cut a hole, and down he fell.

He was living mostly on cookies, and he lost 15 kilograms.  He had access to the washrooms at night when that part of the prison was closed!

The previous November, that same Institution suffered a riot where one prisoner was killed and had caused $1 million in damage.

If you would like to read more about this, I suggest CNN transcript archives, and an interesting discussion at Prison Talk, as well as Free Dominion.

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Posted by on December 7, 2013 in Canadian-related Links, Crime, Longer Entries, March, May

 

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Prairie War Spreading

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On April 3, 1885, the Prairies were aflame with revolution and the Indians were beating their tom-toms as far west as Edmonton.  News of the defeat of the Northwest Mounted Police at Duck Lake on March 26 was spreading like a prairie fire.  The Indians’ hunting grounds were disappearing and they were starving.  Many of the Métis had sold their land holdings for bottles of whisky. This looked like the opportunity to seize supplies and force the federal government to give them better deals.

The Northwest Mounted Police had to abandon Fort Carlton and leave it in flames while they galloped through the night to Prince Albert where many families were in danger.  Settlers in the Battleford area left their homes and sought refuge in the fort.  Wearing war paint, the Crees, under Big Bear and Little Pine, burned their homes and charged into Battleford itself.  The five hundred people in the fort on top of a hill could see them raiding every building, looting and destroying.

Similar scenes were taking place in other areas, as far west as Battle River Crossing between Calgary and Edmonton.  The one bright spot was Qu’Appelle where the newly constructed C.P.R. line brought militia from Winnipeg on April 2.  The Blackfoot in Alberta heard about this and did not go on the warpath, although they were restless.

In the thick of the trouble was Inspector Francis Dickens, son of the famous author Charles Dickens.  When the Crees raided Fort Pitt, they found the watch that had been given to him by his father.  It was recovered later, still containing a picture of his mother and a lock of her hair.

Louis Riel, who went into battle holding a crucifix, did not like bloodshed, but he was in favour of the Indians’ going on the warpath.  After Duck Lake, he wrote to Poundmaker saying: “Praise God for the success he granted us.  Arise, Face the enemy.  If you can take Fort Battle, destroy it.”

In the little Crimson Manual it’s written plain and clear; Those who wear the scarlet coat shall say good-bye to fear. — Robert W. Service, 1909

 

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Bluenose I Launched

Bluenose

Bluenose (Photo credit: lifecreations)

If a poll were taken of the greatest achievements by Canadians in the world of sports, there would be many nominations.  The greatest all-around athlete could be Lionel Conacher, who appeared to be able to play everything well. There would be runners like Tom Longboat and Percy Williams; boxers like Tommy Burns and Jimmy McLarnin; skaters like Barbara Ann Scott, Hockey players like Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr … so many athletes in so many sports.

But today, let’s talk about Nova Scotian fishing schooner Bluenose, long commemorated on Canadian 10-cent pieces (diimes).  She was launched at Lunenburg on March 26, 1921, built entirely of Canadian materials except for her masts of Oregon Pine.

In order to challenge in the International  Schooner Racing Trophy, Bluenose had to be a bona fide fishing vessel.  Her job was to go to the Grand Banks and catch fish.  She returned as best of the Lunenburg fleet, having caught more than the others.

Now Bluenose was qualified to race against the champion of the Gloucester, Massachusetts fleet.  The first contest was held in October 1921, and Bluenose was fifteen minutes ahead of the finish line.  From that time until her last race in 1938, Bluenose defeated all other challengers.

In 1935, Bluenose crossed the Atlantic to attend the Silver Jubilee of King George V, and was received with royal honours by the yachtsmen of Britain. She even raced the fastest schooner yachts in Britain and came in third. Well, to be fair, her opponents were designed for racing, not fishing.

W. J. Roue of Halifax, who designed Bluenose, built other vessels to try to beat her, but was unsuccessful.  It is believed there was something freakish about her hull, an accident of building, that could not be detected and copied.

During World War II, Bluenose was sold to the West Indies Trading Company and carried general cargo between Cuba, Haiti, Guatemala and Honduras.  On the night of January 28, 1946, she hit a reef off Haiti and sank the next day.  Not a sliver of her got back to Canada, although a replica now operates in Halifax as a cruise ship.

As commented below, here’s a link to a great article about the Bluenose, including a stamp commemorating her at Cotton Boll — a very good read!

Canadian dime.  Bluenose!

Canadian dime. Bluenose!

To watch in her glory, you can see her on YouTube, and you can watch Bluenose II live at Nova Scotia Webcams.

 

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