Thursday, January 24, 2013

Police Corruption, Illegal Alcohol and Montreal Cinema

"One of these days there is going to be a catastrophe. If a fire breaks out one of these days, many of those inside will not be able to get out."

So said Constable Conrad Trudeau during the 1925 Coderre Inquiry into Police Malfeasance and Misconduct at Montreal.

He really had it against my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, the Director of City Services, whom he said forced police to turn the other cheek when motion picture theatres were admitting under age children.

Trudeau also hated the motion pictures themselves.

Under age admission to movie houses was nothing unusual; statistics show that as much as 30 percent of patrons  in motion picture houses in the US in the twenties were under age, mostly boys.

And it was mostly boys who died in the Laurier Palace theatre fire in January 1927 in a crush to the door after seeing smoke.

In his testimony, Trudeau said it was my grandfather who was the man who told the police what to do. (This testimony also made it into the New York Times, but a year later at their Senate Hearings into Prohibition.)

Juge Coderre in his Final Report, waxed livid about my grandfather and his over-reaching power. Coderre was especially upset that my grandfather fired Trudeau during the inquiry (for bribing his boss to get his brother in law a liquor license.)


FUNNY,  Constable Trudeau's testimony was never brought up in the 1927 Theatre Fire Inquest as far as I can see.   What a short memory everyone had!

But my grandfather was fired or forced to resign in late 1930 over the 1927 Montreal Water and Power Purchase.  He negotiated a huge pension with Camillien Houde.  At the final debate at City Hall Mayor Camillien Houde (for some cagey reason) made mention of the Laurier Palace Fire.

And then his brother, Isadore, Vice-President of a United Theatre Amusements, a large chain of motion picture houses in Montreal,  falls out of his office window.

After he was fired, Constable Trudeau sued to get his bribe back from Chief of Police Belanger.