Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A reluctant leaper, cop fratricide, failed tunnel heist and a gas leak mystery - four Montreal stories from 1964

   Shirley Deschamps, 20, had been placed in the Foyer Sainte Claire d'Assise to stay with the Franciscans de Marie at 80 Laurier East in early April 1964.
   Young Shirley was suddenly hit by some sense of torment one Tuesday afternoon and decided to leap from her window. at the top of the third floor.
   Police were unable to break into her room and attempted to coax her back inside from neighbouring windows. Firemen raised a ladder and eventually one of them talked her down after about half an hour of meaningless dramatics.


    Adrien Breton and Arthur Breton, 35, both worked for city of Dorval for many years, Arthur as a carpenter foreman and Adrien as a police officer.
   The duo were not just brothers and colleagues, but they were also hunting and fishing buddies.
    One day Adrien was called to rush to Lachine to help some workers overcome with gas fumes, as two dozen workers at Smith and Nephew had succumbed to the effects of a leaky pipe.
   Adrien was speeding along in his cop cruiser, which doubled as an ambulance but another vehicle failed to see his car, perhaps due to high hedges growing at the intersection of St. Louis and Surrey. Arthur Breton might have failed to hear the siren due to a low-flying plane overhead.
   The two vehicles collided and Arthur Breton was killed instantly and his vehicle exploded.
  Officer Adrien Breton exited his cop cruiser to the horrific realization that he had killed his own brother Arthur on Tuesday June 9, 1964.

Morrison the jeweler shows map

A trio of bank robbers attempted to access the safe at the National Bank of Canada at the corner of Ste. Catherine East and Dufresne in May 1964 but their aim was off.
   Raymond Beaupré  and his brother Jean Paul Beaupré along with Marcel Savard spent 10 days digging a narrow tunnel from a dilapidated apartment building (now demolished) from May 8. 
   Their aim was to dig a 70-foot tunnel under building that separated the two structures to get to the bank at the corner at 2395 St. Catherine E.
   That effort required digging underneath J.H. Morrison Jewelers, which turned out to be a problem for the thieves because Morrison had equipped his business with sophisticated alarms after being robbed three times of between $25,000 and $30,000. 
   Police descended on the group as they were deep in the tunnel. They tried to escape by digging upwards to freedom and only ended up making a hole in the jewelry store basement floor, well short of their intended target. 


   Two adults and a toddler lay dead for a week at 3776 Evelyn, a third-floor apartment in a sixplex in northeastern Verdun in April 1964.
   The trio, Michael McAffrey, 37, Sandra Evans, 4, and Mrs. James Arkinson (given name unknown), 41, were apparently killed by natural gas poisoning.
   Gas-heated water tanks came with a hose in those days that would let out poisonous gas if disconnected.
   A neighbour suspected that the deaths might have been a result of a murder-suicide, as that individual reported hearing the couple arguing intensely prior to their permanent radio silence.
   The bodies were not entirely fresh when found. 
   The Petit Journal newspaper told the story with the classy headline "I washed with bleach but it still smelled."


  1. Much like this blog, I have enjoyed your 375 Montreal tale book. Even though I have never been to Canada, I appreciate your writing style especially with the crime material. Keep up the good work.

  2. i look up Coolopolis everyday and love it!
    You've added on so much more; seems like every couple of days you've got another one to read which is great!
    I let others, especially former Montrealers, know about your very interesting site.
    Thanks again!

  3. How many reading this remember when doctors in Quebec made house calls as a matter of routine, particularly those who dealt with common childhood diseases such as the measles, mumps, etc. I vaguely remember the last time a pediatrician visited our home was around 1962, after which a law came into being prohibiting the practice.

    Although a cursory Google Search has not yet produced a definitive answer, I also seem to recall that Quebec doctors had the letters "MD" in addition to numbers on their car licence plates, but perhaps I'd simply seen it on too many TV programs. If anyone knows the facts, kindly post the information here.

    "MD" licence plates were--and supposedly continue to be--commonplace in other provinces and states. These were issued in order to prevent doctors on house call duty from being unfairly ticketed if they were compelled to park illegally--say, next to a fire hydrant--or while speeding to an emergency.

    Incidentally, many will be surprised to know that a few decades back B.C., Calfornia, and likely a few other localities required by law that the drivers licence and/or registration be placed in a special holder affixed to the steering wheel shaft of a parked vehicle so that police could read it through the window, thereby identifying the owner. I assume this law was later rescinded following inevitable incidents of abuse: curiosity-seekers and even criminals reading the personal information to which they were not entitled.

    See: https://www.amazon.com/Vintage-Car-Truck-Registration-Holder/dp/B00F0YG1QI

    Because as of 2015 it is once again a legal option for doctors to make house calls in Quebec (see link below) I suppose it is entirely possible that some of them might collectively request their own vehicle licence identifier, which for Quebec would logically have the prefix "D" for doctor/docteur on the plate.

    Needless to say, to avoid misrepresentation, licensing authorities would need to verify a doctor's credentials before issuing such a plate in order to prevent "vanity" plate abuse. Thus, a legitimate medical practitioner could be assigned a Quebec "D" plate under the already-existing category of "Commercial Vehicles and Special Use Vehicles", which could then specifically distinguish a doctor's vehicle from an ambulance, i.e, D000001 through D999999 rather than the comprehensive "F" prefix--F000001 through F999999--as indicated on the provincial government's webpage below:

    See: https://saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/vehicle-registration/categories-licence-plates/

    And: http://www.lifeinquebec.com/private-doctor-house-calls-in-quebec-now-available-10563/

    Typing "doctor licence plates" into Google Images brings up Ontario, New York, New Jersey, and other jurisdictions with "D", "MD", "Physician", etc., although some of these are likely vintage and not current samples.

    You will notice that some clown has "DR SEX" on their plate. I assume that he (or she?) is quite busy making house calls as a "registered sexologist". ;-)


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