B.C. Penitentiary (1975) (Bc Penitentiary)

Jersay
#1
Quote:

June 9 Three prisoners at the BC Penitentiary who were about to be returned to solitary confinement took 15 hostages. The standoff with prison officials would last 41 hours and end June 11 with an emergency response team storming the hostage takers. During the raid one of the guards accidentally shot and killed one of the hostages, classification officer Mary Steinhauser, 32. Ironically she had been working at implementing courses for prisoners in solitary. Christian Bruyére wrote a 1978 play, Walls, based on the incident. It was made into a movie in 1984.

Now June 9th, 1975 holds significance with my family because my father, was also a peace officer/classifications officer at the prison in 1975 and was actually Steinhauser's 'partner' if you could say, they worked together on many incidents.

About a month before the incident took place, a prisoner warned my father to transfer out of the prison because something was planned. He warned the warden and others but they did not listen so he did transfer out a few weeks before the incident. If he had stayed, he believes because he is a 'tough cookie' as he says, that he would have been killed or wounded in place of Mary Steinhauser if he had remained in the prison.

So that is why the day is important to us.
 
Jersay
#2
I think this is an interesting story.

Does anyone have connections to B.C. Penitentiary like living near it, or having worked in it, or even residing within its bars?
 
Paranoid Dot Calm
#3
Hi! Jersay

I've done volunteer service in most all Federal institutions in Canada. I quite well remember the riot. I remember the tent city which was constructed to house inmates following the riot. I remember just how vindictive the prison staff were after the riot.

Calm
 
Jersay
#4
Quote:

I remember just how vindictive the prison staff were after the riot.

Well a peace officer had been killed. But that still does not excuse the fact of what the prison officials did. At least my father had transfered to another prison after no one listened to him. Now, I think personally, if it hadn't been for that prisoner who had warned my father, he wouldn't be here today and I wouldn't be here today.
 
muffin girl
#5
That was a terrible thing
 
Jersay
#6
Quote:

That was a terrible thing

Yeah, my dad doesn't like to talk about it too much, but after prying it out of him he is okay with talking about it know.

I just wonder what would have happened if my dad had stayed.

Going to hopefully find the movie.
 
Kreskin
#7
I lived about half a mile from the BC Pen as a kid. I was a teenager then. I also remember a few escapes that got everyone's attention.

June 9th is also significant for me - that's my daughter's birthday.
 
icedbad
#8
i remeber the hostage taking well i was 13 at the time and mary steinhauser was a good friend of the familys in fact my mother was a paulbearer at her funeral and on the other side of the fence i grew up with andy bruces siblings he was of course one of the hostage takers it was a very sad time in my house for sure and i remember there was rumours surrounding the whole thing. #1 that mary and andy were having a lil thing and #2 that her death may or may not have been an accident ..as i have said they were rumours and it was a long time ago..
 
renegade98
#9
Mary Steinhauser was a very close friend of ours and thought of my parents as her own. It was a very difficult time especially so for my mother and father when she was killed. I was talking with a friend tonight in Campbell River and we were looking for information on the BC Penitiary as well Oakalla and one of my searches led me to this forum. I am interested in any information that I can get relating to this period of time.

Thanks,
Wayne

Quote: Originally Posted by JersayView Post

Now June 9th, 1975 holds significance with my family because my father, was also a peace officer/classifications officer at the prison in 1975 and was actually Steinhauser's 'partner' if you could say, they worked together on many incidents.

About a month before the incident took place, a prisoner warned my father to transfer out of the prison because something was planned. He warned the warden and others but they did not listen so he did transfer out a few weeks before the incident. If he had stayed, he believes because he is a 'tough cookie' as he says, that he would have been killed or wounded in place of Mary Steinhauser if he had remained in the prison.

So that is why the day is important to us.

 
scheisner
#10
my step-father was involved in this riot, and my mother was a hostage. i am unsure how long she was held, but it was in the visitors area, and my mother was pregnant with my older brother. she told me that my father broke into the store are of the common area during the riot and stole my mother a purse that she had admired. she couldntave with two purses, so they had a fire in the visitors area after they shut off all the water and electricity and burned her original purse. i still own that purse today, and wear it.

i have heard conflicting stories as to what transpired during this period, but i have been told that my father was aware of the events that were going to transpire, and that is why my mother was there to visit him on that day. i know that his parents were also there. i know that they traded hostages for heroine, and that the reason for the riot had to do with treatment of the prisoners. i have heard stories of cruel and unusual punishment, and torture of prisoners. as on now i live within a few blocks of the bc pen, but have not yet visited their cafe, bc pen cafe.

i welcome replies to this post......
 
hannah_13
#11
Hi

Me and my friend are doing a project for our History class. We have chosen the BC Penitentiary. If you guys have any sites or or books that you have read, that you can refer to me that would be a great help!!

Thanks!!
 
VanIsle
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by JersayView Post

Now June 9th, 1975 holds significance with my family because my father, was also a peace officer/classifications officer at the prison in 1975 and was actually Steinhauser's 'partner' if you could say, they worked together on many incidents.

About a month before the incident took place, a prisoner warned my father to transfer out of the prison because something was planned. He warned the warden and others but they did not listen so he did transfer out a few weeks before the incident. If he had stayed, he believes because he is a 'tough cookie' as he says, that he would have been killed or wounded in place of Mary Steinhauser if he had remained in the prison.

So that is why the day is important to us.

The timing is right but I don't know if my husband had any involment in that particular event or not. I know that he went there either to help out the guards or some incident like that but he was with the police, not corrections. I remember him having to go there and I know that is the month and the year we moved to Burnaby but the incident may not have been the same. I will have to ask him when he gets up.
 
talloola
#13
I was living in Surrey at the time, and remember it too, but forget the CKNW
reporter who was called (by prisoners) to do negotiating.
 
JLM
#14
I remember the incident well, Andy Bruce was one of the main perpetrators. Anybody know what his status is these days? He was a particularly sad case as his mother raised 13 other children to be upright law abiding citizens. Just wondering if Andy ever got his act together.
 
talloola
#15
Oh, now I remember the reporter, Gary Bannerman. He was called to the riot
and did negotiations with the prisoners, he was with CKNW
 
Boobear
#16
I was a guard there at that time. Spent the entire time as they would not let us leave the prision during the hostage incedent.

Very sad outcome
 
L Gilbert
#17
Perhaps some info at these sites, or at least some references at them:

Other BC Penitentiary Links (external - login to view)

Boot Hill: Stories from the British Columbia Penitentiary Cemetery (external - login to view)

|| Justice behind the Walls || Publications || (external - login to view)

Books | Non-Fiction | Sentences and Paroles | New Star Books Publisher, Vancouver British Columbia Canada, Newstarbooks, catalogue (external - login to view)
 
BooBoo
#18
My dad was an inmate at the Pen and was the head of the inmate committee and was released 4 days before that riot. took place. He appeared on a radio show and said he had warned the warden that the place was a pile of kindling and was gonna go! I still have that tape somewhere. He said the guards were pulling the wires out of each other's cars in the parking lot. Apparently there was some dissent among the ranks!
 
VanIsle
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by talloolaView Post

I was living in Surrey at the time, and remember it too, but forget the CKNW
reporter who was called (by prisoners) to do negotiating.

I just noticed that you said you were living in Surrey at the time Talloola. My husband was posted in Burnaby but we lived in Surrey then too. Seems we are destined to live near each other. We actually lived in Whally.
 
joeblow
#20
I remember visiting BC Pen in 1981, after it was closed down and they briefly opened it for tours (My class at Burquitlam elementary came for a tour). Several things stuck out from that day; one in particular I think was related to this horrible riot.

They showed us one cell block that apparently had been left untouched after the riot. Everything was trashed and I remember seeing some giant metal bar mechanism that had been pulled away from the wall and bent; we were told that prisoners had done it by hand. Does any of this ring a bell to anyone? Was there a trashed cell block that was not repaired after the riot?

I also remember them showing us a collection of whips that were used for discipline on the prisoners. They said that Raymond Burr, the actor--his father was the man who administered the whippings in the 40s and 50s. I also remember the the lunch hall, there were a few bathroom stalls that faced out into the lunchroom, with no doors on them. that completely creeped my 12 year old mind out...
Visiting that scary 100 year old prison was definitely one of the most memorable events of my childhood, even if my memory is faulty!
 
macrob
#21
My dad was a member of the E.R.T. that day. His life in my mind was ruined that day. A very sad day indeed
 
#juan
#22
B.C. Penitentiary, What a grand place.

 
barton
#23
My grandparents have passed away for a couple of years now and now I would like to do some research on my uncle. He was aparently involved with Andy Bruce during the Hostage taking and in a number of escape attempts. His name is Steven Hall. Once the penitentiary closed down he was aparently voted one of the most feared inmates in the penitentiary by the guards. This was in an article in McCleans magizine. If anyone has any information that they would be willing to share i would really apprieciate it. He caused my whole family a huge amount of grief and out of respect for my grandparents I am now just starting to begin my research. Any help would be great...you can reach me at barton49@shaw.ca (external - login to view) thank you
 
petros
#24
I rented a condo right behind there. Nice view of the drywall factory and scrap yard across the river in Bridgeview.
 
talloola
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by joeblowView Post

I remember visiting BC Pen in 1981, after it was closed down and they briefly opened it for tours (My class at Burquitlam elementary came for a tour). Several things stuck out from that day; one in particular I think was related to this horrible riot.

They showed us one cell block that apparently had been left untouched after the riot. Everything was trashed and I remember seeing some giant metal bar mechanism that had been pulled away from the wall and bent; we were told that prisoners had done it by hand. Does any of this ring a bell to anyone? Was there a trashed cell block that was not repaired after the riot?

I also remember them showing us a collection of whips that were used for discipline on the prisoners. They said that Raymond Burr, the actor--his father was the man who administered the whippings in the 40s and 50s. I also remember the the lunch hall, there were a few bathroom stalls that faced out into the lunchroom, with no doors on them. that completely creeped my 12 year old mind out...
Visiting that scary 100 year old prison was definitely one of the most memorable events of my childhood, even if my memory is faulty!

I believe the CKNW reporters name was Gary Bannerman, he was called personally to the prison that day,
specifically by one of the prisoners to do some negotionating.
If you contact CKNW, perhaps they could help you contact him.
I was born in New Westminster, and I remember Burr Office Supplies on the corner of Columbia and Sixth,
owned and operated by Raymond Burr's brother.
The Burr family was very well know in new Westminster.
 
barton
#26
I was a guard there at that time. Spent the entire time as they would not let us leave the prision during the hostage incedent.

Very sad outcome


Boobear, If you were a guard there can you tell me anything about my uncle Steven Hall. He and Andy Bruce had some dealing together and I would be interested in any information you have and would be willing to share. Because of his past I have just learned of alot of his past in the last couple of years. Steven is in Drummondville Quebec in the penitentary out there and I am just now starting to begin some research on him. Anything you can offer would be greatly appreciated...thanks
 
redeightyone
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by scheisnerView Post

my step-father was involved in this riot, and my mother was a hostage. i am unsure how long she was held, but it was in the visitors area, and my mother was pregnant with my older brother. she told me that my father broke into the store are of the common area during the riot and stole my mother a purse that she had admired. she couldntave with two purses, so they had a fire in the visitors area after they shut off all the water and electricity and burned her original purse. i still own that purse today, and wear it.

i have heard conflicting stories as to what transpired during this period, but i have been told that my father was aware of the events that were going to transpire, and that is why my mother was there to visit him on that day. i know that his parents were also there. i know that they traded hostages for heroine, and that the reason for the riot had to do with treatment of the prisoners. i have heard stories of cruel and unusual punishment, and torture of prisoners. as on now i live within a few blocks of the bc pen, but have not yet visited their cafe, bc pen cafe.

i welcome replies to this post......

What SCHEISNER says is all true. I have talked to at least 5 inmates that were there that day. I knew them personally in Kent Prison and the PA SHU. Ralph Saumer (RIP) is one of them...

Another interesting thing that happened, is that after the shooting, all the guards threw their sidearms in one big pile to avoid the shooter being discovered. That is kind of scandalous...no?
 
OfficerJohn
#28
I worked at BC Pen from 77 at the early age of 20, I remained there until it close in 1980, I was there when Andy Bruce took hostages, in the V&C area.
 
sted
+1
#29  Top Rated Post
Re: andy bruce
I went to school with andy bruce at st edmunds catholic school, north vancouver. At the time the school was taught by the nuns from the order of the child jesus whose convent ( now a music academy I understand) was about 3 blocks away.
The parish priest was Father McEvoy.
Andy sat behind me in Grade 3. I will forever remember the day that once again andy was given a beating by Father McEvoy. Of course it was not called what it tuly was: a beating but merely "the strap".
I remember andy after 'the strap' and he was crying and saying over and over again " I didn't do it... I didn't do it".
I turned around and he looked up and I wont foget the look in his eyes and I believe although we were only in Grade 3 , that he was telling the truth.
The nun stood at the front of the class teaching and never so much as looked at andy.
Sad for him but this was not to be the only beating he got that day. As class was being let out for the day and I passed the staff room which was very close to our door andy was being dragged into the office by Father McEvoy who slammed the door and the next I recall was hearing Andy screaming at the top of his lungs !
I never did find out why he was beaten , we were never told why anyone got 'the strap'. And I grant you Andy did not grow up to be a choirboy.... far far from it.
As for Father McEvoy having talked with some kids who personally experienced his form of punishment he really put 'his all ' into his work to the point where hands were blistered. When I read that there is a park named after Father McEvoy I could not help but shake my head and sigh.
As for Andy he went on to make headlines. But just as sad , in my opinion, to say the stories of the cold, indifferant nuns and a priest who gladly gave beatings ,never did make the headlines. Father McEvoy ruled that school with an iron fist.....literally. He reigned through terror and the nuns went placidly along with it. Except those of course who thought nothing of hitting young children.
regards : sted
ps.. I was not one of the kids who experienced a beating at that school.
 
JLM
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by stedView Post

Re: andy bruce
I went to school with andy bruce at st edmunds catholic school, north vancouver. At the time the school was taught by the nuns from the order of the child jesus whose convent ( now a music academy I understand) was about 3 blocks away.
The parish priest was Father McEvoy.
Andy sat behind me in Grade 3. I will forever remember the day that once again andy was given a beating by Father McEvoy. Of course it was not called what it tuly was: a beating but merely "the strap".
I remember andy after 'the strap' and he was crying and saying over and over again " I didn't do it... I didn't do it".
I turned around and he looked up and I wont foget the look in his eyes and I believe although we were only in Grade 3 , that he was telling the truth.
The nun stood at the front of the class teaching and never so much as looked at andy.
Sad for him but this was not to be the only beating he got that day. As class was being let out for the day and I passed the staff room which was very close to our door andy was being dragged into the office by Father McEvoy who slammed the door and the next I recall was hearing Andy screaming at the top of his lungs !
I never did find out...

Quote has been trimmed, See full post: View Post
Yep, a lot of times there's good reasons for people being the way they are. Is Andy Bruce still in prison? I remember at the time hearing Andy Bruce's mother single handedly raised 14 children and 13 of them turned out well.
 
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