Episode 299: In this episode, we explore a dark chapter of Winnipeg’s criminal history, centred on the “Yuletide Bandit,” notorious for his holiday-season robberies in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Michael David Syrnyk, known for targeting banks and armoured vehicles, executed his crimes with a reckless disregard for human life, often using firearms and viewing his victims merely as obstacles. His choice of the festive season for these heists added a cruel irony to his crimes, starkly contrasting with the spirit of joy and family. One notable incident was a shootout at Winnipeg’s Polo Park Mall, causing terror among Christmas shoppers. The dramatic end to his criminal spree came with a 12-hour standoff involving a former girlfriend, leading to his capture. This episode not only recounts Syrnyk’s heinous acts but also underscores the lasting impact of his crimes on the victims and the broader community in Winnipeg.

Dark Poutine will return on January 8th, 2024, ad-free on Amazon Music and in our regular feed on January 15.

Sources:

NATIONAL REPORT Gunfight at Winnipeg mall has shoppers ducking

Red Deer Advocate 13 Dec 2000, page 14

The Winnipeg Sun 05 May 2002, page 3

The Winnipeg Sun 08 May 2002, page 1

23 years in the nick for Yuletide Bandit

Waterloo Region Record 26 Dec 2002, page 5

North Bay Nugget 18 Dec 2002, page 9

The Kingston Whig-Standard 26 Dec 2002, page 48

The unlikely suspect in hostage-taking had hidden arsenal

Hostage | 72 Hours S01E14 | True Crime

“72 Hours: True Crime” Hostage — s01e14 | Documentary, Crime|

Michael Syrnyk | News, Videos & Articles | Global News

Apr 2016: Winnipeg’s notorious ‘Yuletide Bandit’ makes first appearance before the parole board

‘I could be dead’: Security guard shot by ‘Yuletide Bandit’ frustrated by early parole | CBC News

Michael Syrnyk was released from prison on Friday | CBC News

The Yuletide Bandit: The Seven Year Search for a Serial Criminal by Mike McIntyre

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Episode 298: Last week, we learned how Chinese immigrants have significantly contributed to Western Canada’s development since 1788, playing critical roles in trade, gold rushes, and railway construction. Despite their contributions, they faced severe discrimination and exploitation, particularly during the railway construction in the early 1900s. Post-railway completion, they suffered rights losses and were subject to a prohibitive head tax, escalating to $500, which failed to deter immigration. Enduring nativist racism and accusations of moral and social threats, their plight culminated in the dark chapter of Canadian history on July 1, 1923, as the Chinese Exclusion Act came into law.

Sources:

Federal Exclusion Act – Province of British Columbia

Chinese Immigration Act, 1923 | Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Chinese Head Tax in Canada (Plain-Language Summary)

1872 – Indigenous and Chinese Peoples Excluded from the Vote

When Chinese in Canada Were Numbered, Interrogated, Excluded

What was the Chinese Exclusion Act in Canada? 3 things you might not know – Beyond

Chinese Immigration records – Library and Archives Canada Blog

Douglas Jung

The Chinese head tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act | CMHR

 Formal apology to Chinese Canadians

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Episode 297: The history of Chinese immigration to Canada is a story marked by adversity. Chinese labourers played a pivotal role in building the Canadian railway under harsh conditions, yet faced institutional discrimination, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923, which limited immigration and separated families for years. Despite these challenges, the Chinese community’s resilience has left an indelible mark on Canadian culture. Today, we honour their contributions and recognize the need to confront our history’s shadows, striving for a more inclusive Canadian identity that values people of all backgrounds.

Sources:

Was ‘old-stock Canadians’ coded language — or a simple screw-up? | CBC News

1872 – Indigenous and Chinese Peoples Excluded from the Vote

The Fraser River Gold Rush and the Founding of British Columbia

Chinese Head Tax in Canada (Plain-Language Summary)

Indigneous People

Chinese Immigration Act, 1923 | Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Federal Exclusion Act – Province of British Columbia

Sir John A. Macdonald – Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Biography – CHU LAI – Volume XIII (1901-1910) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Chinese Head tax: George Yee’s story

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Episode 296: On December 6, 1989, a tragic and profound event shook Canada and had a lasting impact. That evening, a gunman entered the École Polytechnique in Montreal, an engineering school affiliated with the Université de Montréal. This act of violence was specifically targeted against women, marking it as a horrific instance of gender-based violence. The attacker, motivated by his hatred for feminists whom he blamed for his personal and professional failures, embarked on a rampage through the school.

The consequences were devastating — in less than 20 minutes, 14 young women lost their lives.

They were: Anne-Marie Edward, Sonia Pelletier, Geneviève Bergeron, Maryse Leclair, Barbara Daigneault, Maud Haviernick, Michèle Richard, Anne-Marie Lemay, Annie Turcotte, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Annie St-Arneault, Maryse Laganière and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

Also, ten more women and four men were injured before the cowardly gunman ended his own life. The event, later known as the École Polytechnique Massacre or the Montreal Massacre, left a deep scar on Canadian society. It led to increased awareness and action against gender-based violence, prompting changes in gun control laws and police procedures. The date, December 6, was subsequently declared the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada, serving as a sombre reminder of the need to combat gender-based violence and discrimination.

Sources:

Polytechnique Montréal | Polytechnique Montréal est l’un des plus importants établissements d’enseignement et de recherche en génie au Canada

Women in Engineering

Women in scientific occupations in Canada

30 years later

Nathalie Provost

The Montreal Massacre — The Target — Crime Library on truTV.com

Montreal_Coroners_Report

Because They Were Women – The Montreal Massacre — Josée Boileau

Aftermath — Monique Lepine

Historical CBC Reports on the Massacre

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Episode 295: On the afternoon of December 20, 1974, a storekeeper in Calgary, Alberta, alerted the police about a customer, Philippe Laurier Gagnon, 26, who became aggressive after being denied the sale of airplane glue. The individual fled, and police pursued him to his residence two blocks away. When officers approached the suspect’s residence, they were met with gunfire. Additional police, more than 130 officers, arrived to find the suspect armed with two rifles rifle in a garage. Gagnon refused to come out. A shootout ensued, resulting in the death of Detective Boyd Davidson, 43, after being shot in the neck. Six other officers were wounded by gunfire, and several others were injured. 

After a military armoured car arrived, police gained the upper hand, smashed into the house and dislodged the gunman from his hideout. Gagnon, who had two rape convictions, a history of assault as well as a record of mental illness and drug abuse, also died at the scene in a hail of bullets as he charged at the officers. 

Detective Davidson, a 23-year veteran of the police force and key figure in establishing the combined police and fire arson squad, left behind a wife and five children. His death and what was learned from the events led to the creation of the Calgary Police Service’s tactical team and changes to policing nationwide.

Sources:

Calgary Herald 21 Dec 1974, page 1

Edmonton Journal 24 Dec 1974, page 3

The Ottawa Journal 24 Dec 1974, page Page 2

The Vancouver Sun 28 Dec 1974, page 60

The Daily Herald-Tribune 30 Dec 1974, page 2

Black Friday: The day that changed policing in Canada

Calgray Herald – 40 years ago Black Friday transformed Calgary policing

Thugs, Thieves & Outlaws: A dark day for Calgary police

Calgary Police Service | Facebook

Tribute to fallen officers | Calgary Police

About our Tactical Unit | Calgary Police

Calgary’s armoured rescue vehicle set to retire

Calgary police unveil new armoured vehicle | CBC News

Black Friday | YouthLinkYYC | YouTube

PTSD among Police Officers: Impact on Critical Decision Making

PUBLIC SAFETY PERSONNEL AND POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS INJURIES

Public Safety Personnel’s interpretations of potentially traumatic events

Development of an Evidence-Informed Solution to Emotional Distress in Public Safety Personnel and Healthcare Workers: The Social Support, Tracking Distress, Education, and Discussion CommunitY (STEADY) Program

Calgary Police Service officer joins somber list of members killed in line of duty – Calgary

Driver in death of CPS officer sentenced to 12 years

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Episode 294: On the evening of December 21, 1883, near Bloomfield, Ontario, visitor Peter Lazier was murdered by two intruders at the farmhouse of Quakers Gilbert and Margaret Jones. The community, deeply affected, quickly organized a search. They traced footprints in the snow, leading to Joseph Thomset and the Lowder family’s homes near West Lake. By the next day, Joseph Thomset and brothers David and George Lowder were arrested and charged with murder.

The legal process moved rapidly. The coroner’s inquest began the next day, followed by formal proceedings within a week. The trial, held at the Prince Edward County Courthouse in Picton just five months later, suggested the motive was robbery, aimed at stealing the $555 Gilbert Jones earned from selling hops. George Lowder and Joseph Thomset were found guilty of murder and hanged in June of 1884. Many felt justice was served, but others believed the law got it wrong, acting hastily without sufficient evidence.

Sources:

Prince Edward County

The Canadian Encyclopedia | Quakers

The Lazier Murder: Prince Edward County, 1884 — Robert J. Sharpe

The Kingston Whig-Standard 24 Dec 1883, page 2

Ottawa Daily Citizen 24 Dec 1883, page 1

Manitoba Weekly Free Press 15 May 1884, page 2

The Lazier murder trial of 1884 – did they get the right men?

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Episode 293: During the evening of Friday, October 13 and the early hours of October 14, 1978, a group of teens and young adults attended a gathering in a rural area of Maple Ridge, B.C. That night, 16-year-old Catherine Emma Pozzobon went missing from the event. Her partially clothed remains were discovered on the afternoon of October 15, not far from the location of the party. Investigations revealed the presence of seminal fluid in her mouth, throat, and on her clothing, as well as a tuft of human hair grasped in her hand. The case was treated as a homicide by law enforcement, but without adequate evidence to pinpoint a suspect, the inquiry was eventually suspended.

Two decades later, in 1998, the case was reopened with the advancement of DNA profiling as a key tool for forensic investigation. Police tested the DNA profiles of the male party attendees against the evidence found on Cathy’s body, and there was a match. Twenty years after she was murdered, Cathy’s family finally saw justice.

Sources:

2001 BCSC 597 (CanLII) | R. v. Larsen | CanLII

OBITUARY: The Province 18 Oct 1978, page 38

Police Seek Clues: The Vancouver Sun 20 Oct 1978, page 6

No New Leads: Surrey Leader 01 Nov 1978, page 16

10 Suspects: Times Colonist 07 Nov 1978, page 14

Unsolved: The Vancouver Sun 18 Apr 1981, page 10

The Vancouver Sun 01 May 2001, page 11

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/101800177/catherine-emma-pozzobon

Maple Ridge — Official Website

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The old days of air travel were quite risky…compared to today, the chances of your flight going down were far greater …every airport had kiosks and coin-operating vending machines where you could buy life insurance before you headed to the gate—you know, just in case you thought you weren’t going to make it to your final destination…

1977 was one of the worst years for accidents in aviation history…in addition to several violent hijackings every month—sometimes with fatal results—There were also passenger plane crashes with great loss of life…including the worst aviation disaster of all time when two 747s planes collided on a runway in the Canary Islands, killing 583 people.

Frank Sinatra’s mother, the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, and all but one member of the University of Evansville basketball team died in crashes…

But then there were the events of October 20, 1977, when a rickety chartered plane went down in a swamp in Mississippi…on board were members of Lynyrd Skynyrd…six of the 24 passengers died, including singer Ronnie Van Zandt, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines, and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick…both pilots also died…

What happened?

Have I got a story for you…

Like what you hear? You can find and follow Uncharted: Crime and Mayhem in the Music Industry on your favourite podcast app or by clicking here: https://link.chtbl.com/uncharted-rssdrop

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Episode 292: In the annals of military history, few figures stand as singularly remarkable as Léo Major, a French-Canadian soldier whose audacious feats in World War II and the Korean War etched his name in the pantheon of military legends. During World War II, he served with the Régiment de la Chaudière, participating in the D-Day landings and embarking on a series of extraordinary exploits that culminated in the single-handed liberation of the Dutch town of Zwolle from Nazi occupation. Unfazed by injuries and fueled by a relentless drive, he refused to be sidelined, resolutely continuing his service. Major’s saga did not conclude with the end of World War II; he reenlisted to serve in the Korean War, where he would once again defy the odds and solidify his legacy. His story is a captivating tale of bravery, resilience, and a steadfast commitment to justice, offering an inspiring testament to the power of individual courage in the face of overwhelming adversity. Some have called him Quebec’s Rambo. He is the only Canadian to have received the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) twice for his actions in two different wars.

Sources:

Have you heard of Léo Major, the liberator of Zwolle?

A One-Eyed Québécois ‘Rambo’ Captures Imaginations in Canada (Published 2018)

D-Day-the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division: 6 June 1944

Le Régiment de la Chaudière

mag-decembre2008

Léo Major

Cpl Léo Major

Léo Major

Leo Major – TRF

Léo Major

Leo Major Liberates Zwolle

Léo Major – A Quebec Military Hero

Pte. Leo Major, 87: Decorated hero

Leo Major Obituary (2008) – Legacy Remembers

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It’s 1986 and Michael Morrison is offered the opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to leave his life of poverty in Newark and start afresh. It’s a job offer he can’t afford to refuse. Michael has no idea what this new job has in store. But he soon realizes: he’s just joined ‘the biggest gang in America’. Join Seren Jones to hear Michael’s story and find out what it means to be both Black and Blue.

Want to hear more? You can follow along on your favourite podcast app here: https://link.chtbl.com/blackandblue-rssdrop

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