Wednesday, 18 December 2013


One of our most valuable sources for information regarding Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan, his second wife Evelyn Hambly, and their time in Calgary during the decades of the 1940s and 1950s comes from retired Albertan lawyer and author Jack Pecover, who grew up as a neighbour to the couple. In his most recent letter to us sharing his reminiscences, Jack was his usual imitable self as he summarized the MacLauchlans’ relations with the neighbourhood children (of which he was one at the time):

Give Evelyn this for starters: she was unfailingly kind and forgiving to a horde of kids thundering roughshod over her domicile and grounds in which she took more than ordinary pride; in terms of beauty she may not have been Ingrid Bergman (no one, not even Ingrid Bergman herself, could possibly have been that beautiful) but she was svelte, open, (again) kind, and, as you and her contemporary press have made amply clear, she was a skilled actress, nor were Calgary’s Grand Theatre, (see Don’s Calgary’s Grand Story), San Francisco and so on necessarily the boonies in those years. I can think she might have done well on Broadway or London’s West End had the fates conspired to waft her to either, and perhaps had not the ill-fated intercession of her second husband intervened. They ain’t all that many of us can claim a comparable CV.

In the first sentence of the quote, Mr Pecover is subtly responding to a criticism of Evelyn Hambly by another of our correspondents, Mrs Jean Hunter, who has described Evelyn to us as, among other less than admirable terms, “porcine”. As it happens, Mrs Hunter and Mr Pecover are siblings – which may or may not play a role in their differing opinions of said Ms Hambly. So that our loyal readers can draw their own conclusions concerning the physical attractiveness of this 1920’s stage actress we invite them to view two photos discovered in remote corners of the world-wide web. One was taken when Evelyn was in her 20s, the other when she was in her late 30s.  The black and white photograph is from Calgary’s Glenbow Archives and was taken when she was the director of the Calgary Light Opera Society in 1935. The sepia-toned one is from the collection of the University of Washington and was taken in 1925, 10 years earlier. (The “Don” referred to is Emeritus Professor Don Smith of the University of Calgary, who has also been helpful in our researches.)

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


As was mentioned in this blog a few postings ago (November 18, 2013), now deceased journalist Dennis Bell told his uncle, retired Albertan defence lawyer and author Jack Pecover, that off-the- record police sources had told him (Bell) that Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan had been the Number 2 man in the West Coast drug trade. MacLauchlan, faithful readers will remember, was murdered along with his wife, Margaret Anne “Nan” Cunningham MacLauchlan, on March 21, 1966 shortly before both were due to go on trial for trafficking in narcotics (heroin). When he was arrested in late December 1965, MacLauchlan had been in possession of about $200,000 worth of heroin. Police were of the opinion that MacLauchlan had been silenced three months later to prevent him from revealing the names of “Mr. Big” in whichever organization he was part of.

Speaking very generally, during the mid- to late 1960s and early 1970s, there were two major Vancouver-based criminal organizations – one headed by William Faulder “Fats” Robertson and the other by the Palmer Brothers. The Robertson Gang, it can be determined from newspaper accounts, consisted over the years of about two dozen individuals. Through a few of these individuals, the Robertson Gang was linked to the Montreal Mafia, centred around Jean-Louis Bisson and Robert Tremblay, who were in turn linked to the New York Mafia. The Palmer Brothers had about a dozen associates, a small number of which were similarly linked to the Montreal Mafia.

Saturday, 7 December 2013


In our last blog posting, in our search for clues as to why convicted abortionist Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan (charged with drug trafficking in 1965 and murdered in 1966) was receiving his mail at 660 Howe Street in Vancouver, we listed four law firms (Pandia & Faminow, Thomas & Williams, WE Marshall, Harry Pedrini,) that on occasion had offices at 660 Howe Street in Vancouver between 1955 and 1964. We also listed Bennett and White, a Calgary-based construction firm, the CBC and the provincial department of education as tenants who occupied offices in the building continuously during the aforementioned period.

There were 25 other businesses in the building who occupied offices for periods ranging from one to five years. Two of them – Alpha Steel Company and Paramet Real Estate Investment Corporation – appear to have been subsidiaries of, or linked to, Bennett and White.

Five companies -- Porr Piling Gen. Construction, Wytane (Canada) Oil Products, Netupsky Engineering, Cement Enamel Wall Covering Specialists, CJ Oliver gen. Contractors – were linked to the construction and building industry. It appears that, of the companies listed in this category, only Netupsky remains in business.

Three companies or organizations – Pacific  Show Production, Assoc of Can. TV & Radio artists, Tower School of Radio & TV broadcasting – were show-business oriented, with the first and second still in operation.

Two collection agencies -- Aabel Agencies and Coast Credit Collections – were located at 660 Howe Street, neither of which appears to be operating at present.

Three companies were in the financial services industry – S Kartar (accountant), E J Lindow (accountant), and Continental Mortgage Exchange. A company of the last name was involved in a court case in 1986 in New Mexico, in which it was charged with selling fraudulent mortgages. More information is being sought on this particular bit financial history to see if the New Mexico company had any connection to its 1961-62 Vancouver namesake.

One of the most interesting people operating out of 660 Howe Street was realtor Phil Matty who in 1968 bought 32 acre Passage Island, located between West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park and Bowen Island. More information is being sought on this long-ago real estate deal too.

Finally, there were four other individuals or firms located at 660 Howe Street -- Federated Ins. Companies, R MacLean, RP Godfrey & company, and Trans Pacific Leasing Service.

The point of all this somewhat detailed information is that someone was receiving Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan’s mail for him at 660 Howe Street, and we are hoping that someone (or some relative, descendant or former associate of one or more of these companies) might have come knowledge of this situation and will contact us through this website.

Monday, 2 December 2013


In our unceasing search for more background to the March 22, 1966 murder of Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan and his third wife Nan in New Westminster, BC, we have uncovered a rather curious bit of information. From 1955 (following his release from Lethbridge Provincial Jail in Alberta after serving a year for conspiring to procure abortions) to 1965 (when, shortly before Christmas, he and Nan were charged with drug trafficking) MacLauchlan received his mail not at 912 Fifth Street in New Westminster where they lived but at 660 Howe Street, near the heart of downtown Vancouver. This address was just around the corner from the Vancouver Court House. One wonders why MacLauchlan was receiving his mail at an address so remote from where he actually resided.
Investigation reveals that 660 Howe Street was a major office building containing, over the years, several lawyers, advertising agents and talent scouts, all which stayed four years or less. The following law firms had offices in the building between 1955 and 1964: Pandia & Faminow, Thomas & Williams,WE Marshal, and Harry Pedrini.
Pandia and Faminow were D Paul Pandia and Peter Faminow. Peter Faminow served as a councillor and alderman for the District of North Vancouver between 1960 and 1974 and ran once for Reeve. He also ran once as a New Democrat in the Federal election of 1963. Harry Pedrini was politically active in the provincial Liberal party and ran in East Vancouver against the NDP’s Alex MacDonald in the 1966 BC election.
Of note is an article in a late 1950s issue of the Vancouver Sun relating that Pedrini had appeared before Vancouver City Council on behalf of a Vancouver social club. The Vancouver City Police recommended against giving a license to the group on the grounds that it was really just a front for organized gambling. The police said that two of the club’s six directors had criminal records.
The only commercial company which was continuously at 660 Howe Street was Bennett and White, an Alberta Construction company of some stature during the decades of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Bennett and White were headquartered in Calgary, hometown of Dr MacLauchlan for over two decades. This leads to the remote possibility that MacLauchlan may have been getting his mail via Bennett and White, and that he had known someone in their Vancouver office from a previous Calgary acquaintanceship.
The only other organizations which had steady occupancy at the address were the CBC and the Provincial Department of Education’s Broadcast Office. It hardly seems likely that either of these two entities would be amenable to receiving the postal deliveries of a convicted felon. We of course would like to find out who at 660 Howe Street was holding Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan’s mail for him. Feel free to offer any ideas or suggestions to us via our contact information on the Home Page of this web site.

Friday, 29 November 2013


In 1927 Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan married for the second time. His new wife, Evelyn Hambly (Jan 27, 1897 – Jan 14, 1964), was a 30-year old actress who did most of her professional work during the first two decades of the 20th Century in California, the Pacific Northwest and, for four years between 1922 and 1926, in Calgary, Alberta. After that she seems to have mostly left the craft and faded from sight -- although, to a limited degree, after marrying MacLauchlan, she did some producing and directing in Calgary for amateur productions.

Evelyn Dee Hambly was born in San Diego, California. She seems to have been a bit of a prodigy, appearing on stage when she was four years old. Her single film role was in the silent flick “The Shark God,” released in May 1913. This was a story of pre-missionary Hawaii, woven around the ancient superstition of the Hawaiians concerning the shark god and its power over the lives of the people, and the love affair of a chief's daughter. It was released on May 5, 1913.

In May 1917, she married fellow actor Robert E. Lawrence in California; he was four months younger than her, having been born May 19, 1897 in Missouri. Both bride and groom were 20 years old. Their son, Robert, was born November 20, 1918.

The most documented part of Evelyn Hambly’s theatrical career, if not her life, relates to her stage career in Calgary, Alberta between 1922 and 1925. During the latter year, she left Calgary and went to Seattle to stay with her sister Mabel, who was also involved in theatre and was married to a rather well-known set designer named Alwin Theall. Born in St Johns, New Brunswick, Canada on Oct. 7, 1876, Alwin Theall came to northern California with his parents in 1880. By the turn of the century he was working as an artist in San Jose. He later worked as a scenic artist at the Liberty Theater in San Francisco. He died there on June 10, 1939. 

As the world entered a new decade, Hambly was hitting the big time boards – in Vancouver. She had quite a serious role in a Vancouver stage production by the Empress Theatre Company of Eugene Walter’s The Knife, a play about a female doctor, a relative novelty at the time. The June 24, 1920 Vancouver Sun praised Hambly’s performance as follows:

Miss Evelyn Hambly, who has come to be regarded as one of the most accomplished members of the [Empress Stock Company] gives the character an interpretation which is thoroughly satisfying. She visualizes the woman medico as a smart tailor made, efficient business woman, self confident and alert. The part is an important one, because from her lips comes the speech which throws the fine light on the conduct of the hero which clears him from an easily misunderstood situation.

While in Calgary, Hambly lived at a fairly exclusive address – The Devenish Apartments.

By 1926, Hambly’s stage career was pretty well over and in that year she moved to Seattle to be with her sister Mabel. As mentioned above, her marriage to Dr MacLauchlan followed shortly after. The papers in Calgary, during the height of her stage career in that city, had described her in glowing terms – praising her vivaciousness and sprightly personality. However, the bloom went off her rose and by 20 years later, her neighbours, the Pecover sisters, saw her in a different, rather unattractive light:

Evelyn MacLauchlan had henna hair, bad teeth and jowly cheeks. You would know by her look that she was a retired show girl.

Monday, 18 November 2013


As has been mentioned before in this blog, retired Albertan author Jack Pecover and his sisters Jean Hunter and Helen O’Connor, in their youth, were neighbours of Dr Robert Henry and Evelyn Hambly MacLauchlan, when the couple lived in Calgary in the 1940s and 1950s. These now elderly (but still vigorous!) siblings have another connection which has been of great help to us. Jean Hunter’s son, the late (June 2012) Dennis Bell, was a well-known and very respected journalist with The Sun, The Province, the Globe & Mail and the Canadian Press over the years. By his retirement in the last decade or so, he was News Director at BCTV 
According to both his uncle and his mother, at the time of the MacLauchlan Murders Dennis was still a print reporter and as such apparently had the ear of the cops. One of the police told Dennis Bell then that during their investigation they had learned that “[Doc MacLauchlan] was No. 2 in the West Coast drug network”.
We at this blog of course would like to hear from any other retired news reporters who may have similar information on the murdered doctor, Robert Henry MacLauchlan. Please contact us through this website.

Friday, 15 November 2013


Retired high calibre Albertan defense lawyer and author Jack Pecover, who in his teenage years lived next door to Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan during the late 1940s and early 1950s, recalled how every year (once post-war automobile manufacture had resumed), MacLauchlan acquired a new Cadillac. The average new Cadillac retailed in Canada in 1950 for about $3500. A midrange Cadillac today will run about $60,000. In the Calgary of 1950, there appears to be only one Cadillac dealer, Calgary Motor Products Ltd, located at Fourth Ave and Second Street West, the president of which was S J Parkinson. It seems likely that the doctor would have bought his cars in Calgary and very likely from this dealer. To that end, we invite any former Calgary Motor Products employees or descendants of former employers to contact us at this website concerning well known – but infamous – customers – such as Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan. We believe in outreach – even after 60 years, because you never know. Someone might remember something valuable!

Friday, 8 November 2013


Robert John “Bunny” MacLauchlan was the natural son of Dr. Robert Henry MacLauchlan and his first wife, Mamie Hoy. Often, the acorn does fall far from the tree: Bunny (as opposed to his father), was generally described as a fine man by all who knew him. He was born September 20, 1919 and saw service with the Royal Canadian Navy in WWII. Upon returning from his military service, he lived in Calgary until his death. In the early 1950s, he lived with his family at #1-1512 Twenty Second Ave., SW and worked as an electrician.

He married Verna Rita Pohl in 1945 and they had three offspring, some of which are surnamed Downey. Some of his children or his descendants may currently live in Calgary. Because we would like to know if “Bunny” passed on any stories of his father, the doctor (who was later killed in a drug-related murder in New Westminster in 1966), we are asking any descendants of “Bunny” MacLauchlan to contact us at our website address.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


The MacLauchlan Murders case drew in a number of other people either through happenstance or proximity. In the latter class were neighbours of Dr Robert Henry and Margaret Anne “Nan” MacLauchlan, which included three police officers -- Deputy Chief Peter Meehan, Detective Doug Mercier and Constable Jack Usher. Commenting on the case a few days after the crime, Meehan stated:

“It is a matter of speculation, but we cannot help but relate these deaths to the circumstances of their original arrest [for narcotics trafficking on December 22, 1965].”

The speculation he was referring to was that MacLauchlan and Nan had asked their superiors in the drug ring for help in order to jump bail and avoid their scheduled County Court trial scheduled for May 25, 1966. Meehan felt that the reply to the request had been death. The implication was that the top echelon of Vancouver’s drug world was afraid that the two, once on the stand, would each sing like the proverbial canary.

Among the former class are curious bit players. In this group can certainly be included Jim Nebone, the 21 yr old Royal City Taxi driver who delivered a dozen red carnations to the front door of the MacLauchlans from florist E.H. Stride of 732 12th Street. By the time the delivery was made, the couple had been dead for some hours. It was said at the time that a dozen red carnations was a Mafia calling card.

Without attributing any unsavory associations to Mr Nebone, it has never been clear how those flowers were paid for and by whom. Many years later this same James Nebone operated an illegal zoo in Surrey, which was shut down by the GVRD and the SPCA. We are eager to contact Mr. Nebone who seems to have dropped right out of sight, having no listings anywhere that we could find.

We know that the zoo case happened a long time ago (1989) but we are wondering (and hoping) if any of our readers have any idea at all as to Mr. Nebone's present whereabouts. Information gained from a Vancouver Sun reporter who covered the zoo story in the late 1980s and early 1990s indicates that Mr. Nebone was rather sickly at the time. We are wondering if he died but cannot find any trace of an obituary.
Please contact us via this website if you have even the foggiest idea of where Mr. Nebone has disappeared to.

Friday, 25 October 2013


One of the interesting items of information that Jean Hunter, a former neighbour of the MacLauchlans during her teen and pre-teen years in Calgary, gave us relates to her time as Administrator of the Victoria Symphony during the 1970s. She recalled that the bookkeeper of that organization was married to a grandson of Dr. Robert Henry MacLauchlan. The grandson’s name was Brett MacLauchlan.

We are eager to receive contact from Mr Brett MacLauchlan because we think he may know anecdotes relating to his grandfather’s life, which involved procuring abortions in Calgary during the 1940s and early 1950s, trafficking in narcotics as early as 1938 (according to the New Westminster press reports at the time of his murder in 1966), bootlegging in Calgary in the late 1940s, and, finally, being bumped off by a West Coast drug organization in 1966.

Would anyone knowing Brett MacLauchlan or any of his offspring please contact us through this website.

Monday, 21 October 2013


One of the most intriguing of our discoveries is that Robert Henry MacLauchlan and his second wife had a second home in Vancouver in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He and the former Calgary stage actress Evelyn Hambly very likely lived at the Darlington (1403 Beach Avenue), a quite classy address in Vancouver’s West End during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

We would like to know if there are any people still alive who may remember the doctor and Evelyn living there or have heard about them living there.

Our source for this information about their residence at that location is Mrs Jean Hunter, a former administrator of the Victoria Symphony. Mrs Hunter, when she was a stage-struck teenager, lived next door to the MacLauchlans when they leased Riley Lodge in Calgary in the 1940s. So did her siblings, retired Alberta author and defence attorney Jack Pecover and retired Nanaimo schoolteacher Helen O’Conner.

“It was a sign that you had made it,” remembered Mrs Hunter, “that you had enough money to get out of frigid Calgary and to winter in Vancouver.” Hunter, mother of deceased BC journalist Dennis Bell, remembers the Beach Avenue apartment well, because it was the first one she had ever seen with pink porcelain fixtures in a corner-set bathroom. “Smashing!” was how this lively 90 year old described it.

Readers of this blog, the following tenants lived in the Darlington in that year: two sisters -- Miss Doris E James (schoolteacher) and Miss Phyllis M James (saleswoman); Arnold H and Mildred Tatton (he was a BC Electric employee), Hubert D and Isabel Richardson (he was also a BC Electric employee); Mrs. O Bayfield;  Miss Margaret H Roulston; Mrs. Sarah Morrison; H Baker; J Brookes; W E Campbell (these latter six people had no occupation listed); Mrs. V M Graham (Dental assistant); James and Barbara E MacDonald (James MacDonald was one of the partners in the law firm of Robson and MacDonald, and later became a justice of the BC Appeals Court; he was the son of Malcolm Archibald MacDonald, a former Chief Justice of BC during the 1920s and was also the brother of Alex MacDonald, former Attorney General of BC who served in Dave Barrett’s NDP government of the early 1970s); Mrs. H I “Alice” Heeney and Byng Heeney; and Frederick C and Cleora Charles (he was the manager of a gas station, Majestic Service).

To repeat: We know this is a long shot but if there is anyone out there who knows the above people, or who is related or descended from them, we would like to know if they ever mentioned the MacLauchlans being residents of the Darlington at 1403 Beach Avenue.

Friday, 18 October 2013


Unless a good reason exists, it’s pretty hard to justify nosing about in someone else’s life. Our good reason for probing into the MacLauchlan Murders is to tell a fascinating story – a tale of early Hollywood, the Calgary theatre world in the 1920s, international drug smuggling and the abortion underworld of the 1950s and 1960s.

One of the points of our fascination is to understand the nature of the attraction between Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan and his third wife, Margaret Anne “Nan” MacLauchlan. Readers of this blog will remember that MacLauchlan and Nan were both murdered on March 21, 1966 in a quiet residential neighbourhood in New Westminster.

Nan’s daughter, Lorraine Cunningham (or someone who once knew her), may have a key to her mother’s personality – and to her fatal attraction to Dr MacLauchlan.

Blonde and blue-eyed, with high cheekbones, “Lo” Cunningham was easily the most attractive girl in New Westminster’s Lester Pearson High School 1959 graduating class.

In our last blog posting we listed the names of people residing in the 500 Block of Fifth Street in 1966, the year that Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan and his third wife Margaret Anne “Nan” were murdered.

In this posting we are hoping that one or more of Lorraine’s classmates, the young men and women of 1959, may remember something she might have said all those years ago about her mother and the doctor. We are seeking to fill out the story of how MacLauchlan and Nan came together in 1957. Had she known him from before, when both lived in Calgary? Had she somehow met him through her father’s regiment, the Calgary Highlanders, when it was commanded by the doctor’s younger brother, Lt. Col Donald MacLauchlan, a decorated hero of World War II’s Normandy campaign?

We have heard from one of Lorraine’s schoolmates, who shared with us a too-brief cameo moment:

“I remember them – she and her mother. They were both golden-haired, walking in New Westminster when the girl (Lorraine) was very young. Both were “well turned out” and looked very happy together.”

That cameo took place in the early middle 1950s. Several years later, about two years after the doctor had moved into her mother’s house, Nan was on the verge of adulthood. In the 1959 Lester Pearson Senior High School yearbook, she was described as “[Enjoying] music, dancing, ice skating, piano and custom cars.” The little blurb ends with the sentence “Lo hopes to become a psychiatric nurse in the near future.”

The comment about liking “custom cars” is piquant, because standing right beside her in the yearbook photo is a tall, good looking young man named Dallas McDonald, who lists his interests as “baseball, football, music and cars.” Were Lorraine and Dallas high school sweethearts? Does someone out there in or beyond the world of the Internet know?

Following graduation, Lorraine Cunningham worked at Royal Columbian as an X-ray technician. A few years after graduating, she went to San Francisco to get further training on X-ray techniques. At Christmas 1965, she married a man in Mexico City, whose last name was Bojalil.

During her graduating year, Lorraine was in Division Nine. Her classmates in the attached photo are as follows: 1st Row (L-R) -- Joyce Taylor, Gail Mitchell, Sharon Warga, Verna Hnatiw, Arlene Boruck; 2nd Row -- Jack Calhoun, Barbara Johnstone, Gail Murray, Jan Smith, Dorothy Leeder, Lloyd Warnes; 3rd Row -- Brian Dickson, Hugo Nielson, Lorraine Cunningham, Dallas MacDonald, Jay Ross; 4th Row -- David Greenbank, Richard Dirks, Dick Mickelson, Bruce Soderberg, Roy Thorpe and Rod McLeod.

Monday, 14 October 2013


A New Westminster residential block during the 1940s, 50s and 60s, it seems to us, would be a relatively stable community. We think it would be one where, because most people tended to stay put for years and years, a community would have formed. Such communities, even when their members with the passage of time disperse, continue to have a sort of “neighbourhood memory” of events that were, by their nature, unusual or surprising. In our research into the MacLauchlan Murders, we are hoping to access what remains of that “neighbourhood memory.”

In 1966 the residents of the 900 Block of Fifth Street in New Westminster would be such a community and we believe there is a neighbourhood memory remaining. All the residents of the 900 Block, having been closer or more distant neighbours of Dr Robert Henry and Margaret Anne “Nan” MacLauchlan who had lived at 912 Fifth Street before they had been killed, were representative of New Westminster as it was then – a compact, rather heterogeneous city so far as occupations were concerned.

Of the 21 occupied residences listed in the 1966 City Directory, 14 were headed by what might be described as the managerial or professional class. These residents included J W Burns (a manager at the BC Distillery, who with his wife Margaret, resided at 901), G D Grant (a manager at Allan Knight Mfg and his wife Helen living at 902), Dr Derek Watson (a UBC professor with his wife Gladys at 905), M A Renton (a psych nurse at 916), Dave Mercer (a police officer and his wife Doris at 919), Peter Meehan (Deputy Chief of Police at 921), K O Macgowan (a Vice President and Director at W M Mercer Ltd, with his wife Audrey at 922), Dr E F Weir (a physician and his wife Juanita at 923), J E Hanna (a teacher and his wife Cathy at 930), R G D Hawes (another teacher and his wife Claire at 931), W H Main (proprietor of the Click Shop and his wife Lucy at 932), H D L Mercer (Burnaby’s Deputy Assessor and his wife Margaret at 933), J A Rines (President of Rines Agencies and his wife Shirley at 937), and L F McQuarrie (a master mariner and his wife at 939).

The remaining seven occupied residences in the 900 Block were the homes of people working as clerks or trades people, and included John Reid (a CPR pipefitter and his wife Nancy at 906), D A T Cooper (a projectionist and his wife Violet at 907), Ken Vogt (a parcel clerk at Woodwards and his wife Donna at 910), Gottleib Lippert (a mechanic and his wife Daisy at 915), R L Guppy (occupation unlisted, however his daughter Rosiland topped the RCH nursing class in 1968; at 917), R N Lee (occupation unlisted, at 920), and Angus MacLean (likely retired, at 936)

Two residences were vacant – 912 and 925. The first, of course, had been where the MacLauchlans lived; the second has no information attached to it.

To a degree we have already accessed some parts of the “neighbourhood memory,” mentioned above. From a descendant of one of the very close neighbours of the MacLauchlans, we have already received information about the couple. The source’s parents lived right next door and had a ringside view of the events of December 22, 1965 when the couple’s home was raided by a swarm of police, and the MacLauchlans were charged with trafficking. This informant went on to write us a letter in which she described how previously her father had watched for at least several weeks how the doctor would take a daily stroll down the street, circle the block and, in the alley, meet a man. A package would be exchanged and each person would continue on his way.

We believe that are other people out there, former residents of the 900 Block of Fifth Street or their descendants, who may have similar or corroborating tales. We would very much like to hear from you. Feel free to make use of our contact information provided on the home page of this website.

Friday, 11 October 2013


In spite of what must have been a tumult of sirens I am embarrassed to admit that I slept through the fire that laid waste to two heritage buildings and closed dozens of businesses in the 600 block of Columbia Street early Thursday morning, October 10th.

In fact it was only when I was sitting in the Belmont Cafe a few hours later that I first learned that there had been a serious fire in the early hours and that it was still being mopped up. As an aficionado of the arts, one of my first reactions was to wonder if the new Anvil Centre had been engulfed. I was relieved to learn that it was still intact and that its unusual architecture was safe.

However, as most New Westminster residents now know (if they didn’t before), 115 years ago there was a far larger fire that destroyed most of the city’s downtown business section on September 10, 1898. That fire had originated in several tons of hay stored on the huge Brackman & Ker's wharf on Front Street. In that conflagration, the New Westminster Opera House, a major civic building, built and owned by Arthur May Herring, was also destroyed.

Unlike in Thursday’s successful efforts, the firemen of 1898 were unable to control the blaze. Once it was over, one-third of the city had been destroyed. Included in the destruction were such public buildings as the YMCA and the public library. Although it was not, strictly speaking, a public building, New Westminster’s Herring Opera House was destroyed.  The structure, which had been erected in 1887, was 50 feet by 130 feet and accommodated, depending on the source referenced, between 800 and 1200 people. It had opened four years before one was built in Vancouver.

It is likely that Herring’s pharmacy business located at 85-6th Street was also destroyed in the fire. It is also possible that if this loss did occur it may have prompted Herring to run for Council that year. In any event, he was elected an alderman in the City of New Westminster in 1898.
Councellor Betty McIntosh works to keep parking meter rates low. Read the Record

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Historic Columbia Street ablaze

The 600 block Columbia Street was ablaze about 3:30 AM this morning with the iconic Copps Shoes  (H L Lewis) building burning out od control.  The fire has wiped out the Bridal Shop which had moved into the space Copps Shoes had vacated, a Restaurant, Barber shop and most likely my favour store which was in the basement on Front Street. Montgomery & Fritzgralds an antique store where I bought books and baseball memorabilia.  The building collapsed within 45 minutes of the fire being discouvered.
Many businesses have been affected by smoke and water.
Rumors say there were propane tanks on the roof possibly from work being done on the roof.  But it is too early to say how the fire started.  These are building built around 1904 thus made mainly of wood. Owner Terry Brine says a roofing company was putting a new roof on the lower building.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Royal City Record article

Read the most recent coverage by the Royal City Record/Now.  It is an article about trying to learn more about daughter Lorraine Cunningham a 1959 Lester Pearson Grad and an X-ray Technician at Royal Columbian Hospital 1959 to 1961. As well asabout her mother Nan (Margaret) Cunningham (MacLauchlan) a teacher at Woodlands School who earned her Bachleor of Education in 1964.  Nan and  Dr. Robert Maclauchlan were gunned down in their home March 21, 1966.  Here is the latest article and please contact us at if you have any information.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


One of the very interesting aspects of researching the murder of Dr Cunningham and Nan has been the part played by what might be called “meaningful coincidence”. For example, it was through coincidence that we were led to former neighbours of Dr MacLauchlan.

To wit: after having learned that Dr MacLauchlan had been married three times and that his second wife’s maiden name had been Hambly, we further discovered, first through the archives of Variety magazine (the Bible of American show businesses), that she had been a stage actress in Calgary in the early 1920s.

Trying to find out more about her and the venues where she had performed, I discovered that one showplace had been The Grand, a fine Calgary theatre built by Senator James Lougheed in 1912. The definitive work on The Grand had been written by Professor Don Smith, now retired from the University of Calgary’s History Department. (Don is the author of several books on Canada’s First Nations, including one on noted Native imitator Grey Owl.)

 In search of more information on Evelyn Hambly, we struck up an email correspondence with Don Smith. The story does not end there. A few weeks into our correspondence, Rod’s email in-box was graced by the subject line “STOP THE PRESSES!” The body of Don’s mail went on to tell us, in rather excited terms, that his good friend, retired lawyer Jack Pecover, had been a next door neighbour of “Doc and Evelyn” in the late 1940s! Contact with Jack quickly ensued and from it we were able to get much information on the everyday lives of Robert Henry MacLauchlan and Evelyn Hambly, his “toast of the Calgary stage” wife.

Friday, 4 October 2013

No Dog Barked: the background to our tentative book title

For those visiting our site who may have wondered why our book on the MacLauchlan Murders is tentatively called “No Dog Barked,” here’s the story:

Dr MacLauchlan and his wife Nan were murdered on late Monday evening, March 21, 1966 and their bodies were discovered Wednesday, March 23, 1966. The couple had a small dog, an 8-year dachshund named Pogo, who was not harmed by the murderer and, according to the police, had wandered through the house for two days while the murder victims lay undiscovered. In fact, Pogo had also been seen on the sidewalk in front of the MacLauchlan’s residence at 912 Fifth Street on the Tuesday.

The story of Pogo perambulating along the sidewalk immediately reminded us of the Sherlock Holmes mystery Silver Blaze. The story focuses on the disappearance of a race horse of that name on the eve of an important race and on the apparent murder of its trainer. As described in Wikipedia, it features some of Conan Doyle's most effective plotting, hinging on the "curious incident of the dog in the night-time:"

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"

Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."

Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."

Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

Not only was the murder of the MacLauchlans a very quiet deed (giving the police reason to believe it was carried out using a silencer-equipped 38 automatic), no dog – meaning Pogo – barked. There may be a parallel between these two murders – one fictional and the other real. Some questions are raised, the first one being did Pogo know his owners’ murderer? Is that why he was quiet? The second question, naturally, is how did Pogo get out? Was there a “doggie door”? Or did someone let him out and then, sometime on Tuesday evening, let him back inside 912 Fifth Street?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


Were you in New Westminster in the 1950's?  Do remember names like Cunninghamm Herring and MacLauchlan?  Were you involved in the Hospital industry?  If you say yes to any of these questions, then you might be able to help solve a murder.

We are looking for anyone who knows the answers to the following four questions.  We are also looking to talk with anyone who may know any of these family names and members.

Do you remember Lorraine Cunningham who attended Lester Pearson High School graduating in 1959?

Do you remember Lorraine Cunningham who worked as an X-Ray Technician at Royal Columbian Hospital 1959 to 1961? Lorraine Cunningham moved to Mexico and later married Dr. Bojalil in 1965.

Do you remember Margaret Cunningham who worked as a Teacher for Woodlands School from 1946 to Dec 1965? Margaret Cunningham earned her Bachelor of Education in 1964 from UBC
Do you remember Dr. Robert Henry MacLauchlan who lived at 912-5th Street who walked his dog daily?