I just wanted a few bad guy portraits, is that so wrong. Geez.
Background History on the Characters found in this Series of Drawings
Born in 1914, the son of a Toronto Police officer, young Eddie had an undoubtedly hard childhood. He lost his mother and two brothers, who all died of scarlet fever when he was only 12. That year was a turning point in his life. It was the year he had his first brush with the law. For a time growing up in Toronto he had scraped out a living driving a TTC street car on Queen Street and some other odd jobs, all the while illicitly spending his nights committing escalating crimes. Eventually while on the run from police he signed up to join the Canadian Army. He ended up spending WWII in the Royal Canadian Regiment First Division Canadian Army, the special forces of the time. He was by all accounts a very good soldier who successfully survived and completed many secret missions into Nazis occupied territory. During the war he married a French girl who he had met in Normandy while behind enemy lines. He had a son born in France with her. When the baby was only weeks old, during an air raid drill at the hospital, a nurse accidentally dropped his newborn son who tragically died in the incident. Later distraught when he was discharged from the Army and returned to Toronto he claimed he was unable to find reasonable employment. Now with a wife who was pregnant again, this time with twins, he felt he needed to do something drastic. He brazenly robbed a North York 'Bank of Montreal', and followed that with six more banks in the city within the next three months. He managed to form a gang of robbers, later dubbed “The Boyd Gang” by The Toronto Star, who were quickly becoming infamous around the country for their exploits.
Eddie Boyd was a fast talking, good looking, extremely intelligent man, who fancied himself immensely and had a movie star quality and luck or talent for getting what he wanted. What is rarely discussed and quite interesting and somewhat bizarre, is the fact Boyd seemed to enjoy dressing in women's clothing and wearing a women's wig and face make-up as a choice of disguise to aid in his many get-aways.
Eventually all 'The Boyd Gang' were cornered and caught after their numerous successful and large bank robberies. They were all sent to the Toronto's notorious Don Jail. They were strangely and unwisely placed in a-joining cells. Soon enough Boyd hatched their escape plan, amazingly involving the use of a hack saw blade that one of his gang members always kept in his fake leg.
On the lamb, and in the wind......another robbery spree began, including the largest in Canadian history, still to this day.
Months later Boyd was eventually discovered, after an exhaustive man hunt by the Police, sound asleep in bed beside a bag full of money and five loaded pistols. Amazingly the gang was placed once more in the Don Jail, again right beside each other in the exact same cells they had previously escaped from (Not sure who thought to do that, but wow). This time Boyd's strategy had to be more complex. It involved him charmingly buttering up and making friends with the guards. The silver tongued Boyd jokingly one day snatched the key from the guard, pressing the key firmly in his palm for a few seconds before handing the keys back, leaving an impression in his skin which he used as a template to fashion a key of his own. Then slowly at night, over a 3 1/2 week period, he would open his cell door with his make-shift key and use the hack saw still kept safe and sound inside his gang members fake leg, of which the guards hadn’t caught onto. Sawing slowly and quietly through the outside window's bars, bit by bit, over each night methodically preparing their eventual final escape. When the morning came he simply would just return to the cell unnoticed by the prison guards, and lock it back up again behind him. To fit through the small hole he was going to be able to cut, the gang needed to literally starve themselves for a month. It came down to the night before they were to stand trial when they all escaped the Don Jail for a second time.
The biggest man hunt in Canadian history ensued. The newspapers had a field day, Boyd’s gang made headlines across the country, North America and the world.
When he was eventually recaptured again months later based mostly on leads from sightings from the public who now recognized his well publicized face. He was found by police, once again sound asleep beside a large pile of money, ending the greatest criminal manhunt in the Dominion’s history.
Boyd received 8 life sentences for his numerous crimes, but in Canadian Law at the time, the 8 life sentences somehow equaled only 14 years total in jail. Hard to believe, but true. He did his stretch quietly this time. Upon release Boyd, assumed a new identity and moved to British Columbia and became a Bus Driver for the disabled for over 12 years.
After his death, audio tapes were found amongst his possessions, recorded by Boyd himself years earlier, possibly in preparation for a biography of some sort. On which he left an oral account of war stories, bank robberies and many of his crimes that were far more serve than he had previously ever admitted to and were far more brutal then he had been thought to have committed, including a number of horrendous murders in the High Park area of Toronto in the early 1940s.
One of our most notorious, and infamous criminals and fascinating characters in Canadian History died in his bed at the ripe old old age of 92, in May 2001.
All images Copyright © Andrew R. Hutchison 2000 - 2014