1955 June 30th Marmora Bank Robbery
Yesterday (Wednesday) morning two armed bandits held up the staff of the local branch of the Toronto-Dominion Bank and made their get-away with over $5000. About 8:30 a.m. Mr. Roy Moss, accountant, and Miss Wilma McKinnon, of the Bank Staff went to the bank to do some necessary work prior to the bank's opening. As they approached the door two men, dressed in work clothes and carrying what appeared to be tool kits, stepped from a car and walked up to them, shoved a gun in their backs and demanded that they take them into the bank.
Once inside the bank the two employees were bound and gagged with tape and kept out of sight. As the other members of the staff arrived they were allowed to enter and then also tied up. When the manager, Mr. R. McKay arrived he was met inside the door by the two men with drawn guns and invited in. They demanded that he open the vault but he persuaded them that it had a time lock and could not be opened before ten o'clock.
The bandits waited for the time to arrive passing the time talking to the staff in a friendly joking manner. Just before ten they demanded that Mr. McKay try the vault and he was forced to admit it was open by that time.
The staff were then all herded into the basement where they were locked in the boiler room.
The thieves entered the vault and took what cash they could find and apparently put it in the tool boxes they had been carrying. They then stepped nonchalantly out of the side door and in plain sight of a couple of dozen citizens walked to their cars and drove off west on No. 7 highway.
Meanwhile the bank staff, having heard the vault door close, tore off the tape binding them and forcing the boiler room door open, ran upstairs to phone the Provincial Police.
Road blocks were set up on the roads leading from the village and police patrolled all the roads in the area but so far no trace has been found of the thieves or the money. The car was found abandoned near Peterborough shortly after noon.
Apparently the robbery had been well planned and the men were no amateurs. They were described as very calm and courteous in their manner and there was no rough talk or bad language.
While it was their first experience (and it is hoped their last) in a hold-up, the bank staff also remained as calm as could be expected under the circumstances and no one was injured in any way. As the money was insured there was no point in any heroics which might have resulted in a shooting like the two in Toronto recently.
The members of the bank staff here include Manager K.C. McKay; accountant, Roy Moss; Messrs. Ron Henry, Alex Fraser, Wm. Cook, and Misses Wilma McKinnon and Joan Shannon.
BANK ROBBERY SOLVED Marmora Herald Nov 8, 1956
Rosslyn LeBlanc wrote:
Hi. I guess you could say I had a "personal" interest in your town as it was 2 of my Uncles ( Frank Turcotte and Ernest Turcotte ) my late mothers 2 brothers who robbed your town bank back in 1955 I hope to get to see your town for myself next summer.I just moved up here about 3 years ago but it wasn,t til one of my sons did some research on our family that we found out where the bank robbery had taken place...
Frank Turcotte, aged 40, of Bewdley, appeared in Magistrate's Court in Marmora on Monday, charged with the robbery of the Marmora Branch of the Toronto- Dominion Bank on June 29th, 1955. He pleaded guilty to the charge of armed robbery and also to one of kidnapping and was sentenced to 5 years in Kingston Penitentiary on the first charge and 2 years on the second, the sentences to run consecutively.
Shortly after the robbery Orval Ross was arrested and charged with the crime but he was later acquitted.
Some weeks ago Frank Turcotte and his brother Ernest Turcotte were arrested and charged with the attempted robbery of a bank at Stoney Creek. Ernest Turcotte committed suicide but Frank was convicted and sentenced to four years in the penitentiary.
While awaiting trial in Hamilton finger prints of the Turcottes were sent to Corporal Rackham of the O.P.P. who compared them with a print found on a piece of cellophane in the car used in the Marmora robbery and the print was found to match the right thumb print of Ernest Turcotte. Frank Turcotte confessed to the crime and gave a statement which was read in court Monday by Inspector Wannell of the C.I.B.
The only witnesses heard at the trial were Thos. Cullen of Peterborough, who told how he was forced to accompany the two men in his car the night before the robbery he was locked in the trunk of his own car; Roy Moss and Wilma McKinnon of the Bank Staff, Corporal Rackham and Inspector Wannell.
The latter read the statement of Turcotte which toldhow his brother had arranged the robbery and they had looked over the bank two or three times before the robbery. The night before the affair took place the two men went to Peterborough where they met Cullen and asked him to help them move their car. When they got into Cullen's car Ernest Turcotte drew a gun and ordered Cullen to drive them around. Cullen was later blindfolded and taken to Bewdley where they spent the night and in the morning they drove to Peterborough where Ernest picked up his own car and they drove to a sideroad near Marmora. Here Cullen was forced to get into the trunk of his car and they proceeded to Marmora.
When they reached the Main Street they noticed Chief Constable Lockwood come out of his office and get into a car and Ernest said "----- , he's still here." When the police had left they put their car in front of the bank and waited for Roy Moss to come to work. They told him they were plumbers and he let them into the bank where they produced a gun and tied Moss and Miss McKinnon, who had also arrived early, and blindfolded them. As other members of the staff arrived they were also tied up and when the time lock on the vault opened the robbers took $5400. from the vault and locked the bank staff in the basement. They then left in their car and drove back to where Turcotte's car was parked. They gave Cullen some money and told him not to move for 15 minutes. The brothers then went to Bewdley where the money was divided and Ernest Turcotte left for Hamilton.
Later Chief Lockwood visited the home of Frank Turcotte on two or three occasions and asked if he had kept a man there the night before the robbery. Turcotte denied any knowledge of the affair.
The reading of the statement was ordered stopped when Turcotte intimated that Lockwood was implicated in the crime. Both police and attorneys testified that Turcotte had been considerate and helpful all through the trial and the witnesses said that he had been very courteous to them and had tried to make them comfortable all during the kidnapping and robbery.
Both defense Counsel and the Crown Attorney suggested leniency as they felt the prisoner was not a hardened criminal and that he had no previous record. The sentence for bank robbery here will run concurrently with the one received at Hamilton so that Turcotte will serve a total of seven years in Kingston Penitentiary.
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THE BAD LUCK BANK ROBBERS
The Robbery of the Havelock TD Bank, 1961
$230,000 STILL HIDDEN IN ONTARIO BUSH?
In a bold daylight heist on August 31,1961, armed robbers made off with over $230,000 from the Toronto-Dominion Bank in the eastern Ontario village of Havelock. If not for a bit of bad luck, it would have been the "perfect crime:'
But things started to go wrong. A wild car chase along back roads in the rugged Canadian Shield bush country north of Havelock ended with the bandits fleeing into the woods on foot. After an intensive 96-hour manhunt, the Ontario Provincial Police, aided by local residents, rounded up the five suspects.
But where was the money? It had vanished! Not only that, the clever bandits had worn masks and gloves at the bank. Nobody could identify them, and there were no fingerprints. The chances of putting them behind bars seemed slim.
Grace Barker received an Ontario Heritage Foundation award in 1999 for her work in preserving, protecting and promoting the rich heritage of the province. Her book Timber Empire: The Exploits of the Entrepreneurial Boyds, now in its second edition, traces the nineteenth-century adventures of Trent Valley lumber baron Mossom Boyd and his sons. In The Bad Luck Bank Robbers, she brings the reader a detailed account of another intriguing drama that had never been told. Grace now resides in Campbellford, Ontario. For more information about her books, please visit www.foxmeadowbooks.com.