THE BORDER POLICE: ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF POLICING IN WINDSOR
Volume 21 Number 3
Marty Gervais, the author of The Rumrunners (Firefly Books, 1980), with the help of his two researchers, Mary Baruth and Mark Walsh, regales us with many of the strange and not-so-strange stories of policing along the Detroit River and the border between Canada and the U.S.
The Border Police is divided into four parts. Part I, "Law Breakers and By Law Makers," takes us through the tumultuous early years to 1900. Part fl traces the growth of the border cities through the development of the automobile, Prohibition, and amalgamation, up to 1935, Part HI deals with further amalgamation, clean-up and the beginning of stability, to 1968, and part IV brings us up to the present day.
The book races along mostly in journalese style through these years, introducing us to heroes and villains, humanitarians and crooks. We meet tough, scrappy constables such as Seraphim Maitre who, in the 1880s, confronted the then world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson and forced him to go to the station in handcuffs to pay his speeding fines; suave chiefs, like Claude Renaud, who left in a cloud of controversy for being too "soft"; James Wilkinson, one of the first investigators to develop the use of finger prints in the detection of criminals; and gun-toting Methodist minister J.O.L Spracklin, who shot a prohibition breaking roadhouse owner.
The description of many of the trials and tribulations of attempting to administer justice in this volatile area of our growing country is augmented by over 125 black-and-white photographs and contains an appendix of the Windsor police roll call on September 1, 1992.
This is a rather specialized reference book, popular in the Windsor area, I believe, but I can't see it being of great interest in many other places.
John Harkness is Head of the History Department at Emery Collegiate Institute in North York, Ontario.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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