the story of the double homicide

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Dr. Robert Henry MacLauchlan

Margaret Ann 'Nan' MacLauchlan
[Herring Cunningham]

The Herring Famiily

MacLauchlan Siblings

Vancouver Crime Scene in the late 1960's and early 1970's

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For a few dozen months, Ken McIntosh and Rod Drown have worked together, researching the March 1966 killings of Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan and his third wife, Margaret Anne, in New Westminster. During that time, what originally seemed mostly a straightforward investigation into murder in the West Coast drug trade has also become a look into certain aspects of Canadian social history, involving abortion, western Canadian theatrical history and the merchant and civic history of New Westminster.

Led by a surgeon father, Dr Donald MacLauchlan, the MacLauchlan family of Prince Edward Island, which came to Calgary in 1912, consisted of five sisters and two brothers. One MacLauchlan brother was a prickly war hero who later commanded the Calgary Highlanders, an Alberta regiment which battled through France in World War II after the Normandy invasion. He was the younger one – Lt. Col. Donald “Don” GH MacLauchlan, DSO, ED.

Likewise born in Prince Edward Island, the older brother, Robert “Bob” Henry MacLauchlan, was perhaps a Cain to his brother’s Abel. He graduated as a gold medal winner in 1919 from McGill University Medical School. It seemed at first he was about to follow in the footsteps of his doctor father. Instead he went downhill – eventually all the way downhill to being murdered in a gangland hit in New Westminster in 1966.

Looking over his life, McIntosh and Drown have come to believe that graduating from McGill was about the best thing Robert Henry MacLauchlan ever did. Following that triumph, his life took a more exciting but ultimately less heroic path: after being arrested for prescribing pain-killers to feed his drug addiction in California in 1932, he traded on his father’s good reputation to avoid incarceration in San Quentin. Following that near-miss he spent some part of a year in the French colony of exotic Shanghai in the late 1930s. Back then the city was the stuff of legend. While the rest of the world grappled with the Great Depression, Shanghai entered its most prosperous era. With its three million people, the city ranked fifth in the world and was known as the "Paris of the Orient," a sophisticated Mecca for the rich and famous of the era. Robert Henry MacLauchlan was among that crowd.

According to press reports after the murder, MacLauchlan’s sojourn in Shanghai was a preview for several years, beginning in 1938, that he spent in French settlements throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East, where he had friends in Morocco, Spain, Tangiers, Beirut, Italy and Lebanon. Given that this was the late 1930s and the world was just emerging from the Great Depression, it is fair to ask: was this when the former medical prizewinner acquainted himself with the international criminal underworld of drug smugglers and heroin dealers? Was this when he first launched his illegal drug smuggling career?

Over the next 30 odd years there were more professional missteps. Returning to Calgary from California, he lost his Alberta medical license in 1945, probably for performing abortions. Being removed from a legitimate livelihood, MacLauchlan went into another line of medical work – one which, although doubtless fulfilling a social need, was nonetheless illegal. From the middle 1940s to 1954, MacLauchlan performed abortions on dozens if not hundreds of young women, operating from the rather impressive premises of what had been the mansion of one of Calgary’s most well-known pioneering merchant families – the Rileys. From about 1939, he leased the three-story Queen Anne styled home from the Riley estate.

Sharing Riley Lodge at this stage of his life was his second wife, retired stage actress Evelyn Dee Hambly, who had been the toast of Calgary during the early 1920s. (Hambly had been preceded by Mamie Hoy, who he had married in Ontario in 1917. The authors are still researching her life and eventual fate.) Research has indicated that the MacLauchlans also maintained a rather posh residence on Beach Avenue, in Vancouver’s West End in the late 1940s.

According to McIntosh and Drown’s sources, it was an open secret in the surrounding Grand Trunk neighbourhood that the Lodge was doubling as a private hospital in which abortions were taking place. Whatever precipitated the authorities’ interest after years of seemingly looking the other way, in 1954 the MacLauchlans’ facade of respectability came crashing down. Along with three associates, the doctor was charged with conspiring to procure abortions. In 1955 he was sentenced to a year in jail in Lethbridge. Following the social debacle, Evelyn Hambly left MacLauchlan and decamped to Oregon, where she died in 1964.

Upon his release MacLauchlan went to British Columbia in 1957, moving in with Margaret Anne “Nan” Cunningham of New Westminster and passing himself off as her uncle. Cunningham, respected by all for her job as a quiet and modest schoolteacher at New Westminster’s Woodlands School, correspondingly passed herself off as his niece.

Hence, it was another community scandal, this time in New Westminster rather than Calgary when, three days before Christmas 1965, both were arrested for drug trafficking, ripping to shreds the facade of the kindly elderly doctor and his innocent “niece”.  Two packages containing 20 ounces of heroin had been found in their house at 912-5th Street. Police valued the drug at $200,000.  To put the value of the heroin in perspective, house values in New Westminster were then in the range of $8700 to $12,700.

Quick to capitalize on the fact that back then a wife could not testify against her husband, MacLauchlan took on his third wife, his erstwhile “niece,” Nan. On February 11, 1966, they were married in Bellingham, Washington. By marrying Margaret Anne Cunningham (nee Herring), MacLauchlan formalized connections with one of the oldest families in New Westminster. The Herrings had been in the city since Colonel Moody and the Royal Engineers came from England in 1858 and they had solid links through marriage to leading New Westminster and Burnaby families. The original Herring had been a Royal Engineer.

After their fall from grace due to the December 1965 drug charges, MacLauchlan and Margaret Anne gave every appearance of working to consolidate their affairs and to construct a possible defence -- or to escape. Soon they were contacting various countries to learn of their extradition arrangements with Canada. For example, a letter found in the house, from the Mexican Consulate, revealed that the new bride and groom had been seeking information about “retiring” to Mexico.

Escape or retirement, neither was to be. Three months later, a further shock rippled through polite New Westminster society when, on March 21, 1966 in the couple’s small bungalow, both were executed gangland style – each with a shot in the face and abdomen. Newspapers speculated that the underworld had silenced him just in time to prevent him from testifying against its members at his upcoming trial. Nan, who had claimed to friends and co-workers that she had known nothing of her new husband’s activities, had definitely been in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Graduating as a gold medal winner from McGill Medical School in 1919 was the best thing Robert Henry MacLauchlan ever did. It was probably the last one. The greatest tragedy he ever inflicted was when, late in life, he seduced and misled Margaret Ann “Nan” Cunningham, seemingly just a quiet and modest teacher who worked at New Westminster’s Woodlands School. When MacLauchlan was murdered in cold blood, she died along with him. Her wounds were a mirror image of his – each received a bullet beside the nose and another to the abdomen.

Following his initial medical triumph, MacLauchlan’s life had taken a much less heroic path involving drug addiction, illegal abortions and heroin smuggling. He charmed and philandered his way through San Francisco, 1930s Shanghai (the "Paris of the Orient") and other exotic settlements of the French overseas community.

During the 1930s and 40s MacLauchlan lived in one of Calgary’s tonier neighbourhoods, providing abortion on demand and, on the side, traveled the world smuggling drugs, all the while married to a Calgary stage actress who, during the 1920s, had been the toast of the city. Sentenced to a one year jail sentence in 1955 for performing abortions in Calgary, MacLauchlan ended up in New Westminster. According to a newsman of the time, who had inside contacts among police investigators, the doctor became the Number 2 man in the West Coast drug trade of the middle 1960s. All the while, he was passing himself off as the elderly “uncle” to his “niece”, quiet Woodlands schoolteacher, Margaret Ann “Nan” Cunningham.   

Three months after being arrested for heroin smuggling and just a few weeks before his trial, MacLauchlan was executed gangland style – a shot in the face just to the side of the nostril and another in the stomach. The same punishment for threatening to cross the mob was dealt to his wife Margaret Ann, a member of the younger generation of New Westminster’s well established Herring family.


Was she the doctor’s victim or his co-conspirator? Truly, Margaret Anne Cunningham is the enigma in the MacLauchlan story.

Was she simply naive? Easily led? Given the consciousness of that era, how could she have allowed, during the “quiet” decade of the 1950s, Dr. Robert Henry MacLauchlan, a convicted abortionist and a divorced man, to move into her small bungalow on 5th St? The question is fascinating. Perhaps her temperament was a provocative mix of compassion, independence and perhaps even forward thinking. Compassion: she worked at the Woodlands School for the Disabled from 1950 to 1965. Independent spirit: she left her first husband after a few years of marriage. Forward thinking: she would have known that MacLauchlan was a convicted abortionist and maybe she was sympathetic to his cause, viewing it as something he had not done for purely financial reasons but for reasons of social justice. Yes, it is hard to fathom Robert Henry MacLauchlan’s third wife.

Aside from Margaret Anne MacLauchlan’s date of birth, the chronological facts of her life’s major stages are straightforward. Although the death certificate says she was born January 15, 1915 in New Westminster, her headstone in the city’s Fraser Cemetery puts the year as 1914. (The Coroner’s document indicates that, upon her death, even her brother Stephen was uncertain about her age.).

Apart from the previous discrepancy the rest of the record is fairly straightforward. By 1919 the family was living in Castor, Alberta, about 100 miles east of Red Deer. In 1935, at age 20, she graduated from Calgary’s Chinook Normal School, a teacher training institution. Also in her graduating class was her sister Frances Herring (later Frances Brown).

The date of her first marriage, in Banff on July 15, 1940, to a man a few years her senior, William Ernest “Ernie” Cunningham, certainly suggests a compassionate nature because that particular date was the last day for a married man to get exemption from military service in Canada. One wonders if Cunningham perhaps took advantage of her in this respect. Indications are that the marriage was in the end not a happy one, given that one of her cousins has told us that Ernie later had her followed by a private detective. The marriage ended in a Spokane, Washington district court on October 17, 1949 and a seven year old daughter (later identified as Lorraine Eleanor Cunningham) was mentioned in the proceedings.

The next year, 1950, when she was 35, Margaret Ann Herring/Cunningham started teaching at Woodlands and was living at 612-8th Ave., New Westminster. Three years later, in 1953, her father Philip S Herring, her mother Sarah Anne and her brothers Stephen and Blythe were also listed in the city directory as living at that address.

On August 3, 1953 Blythe Herring committed suicide in Port Roberts, probably at the Herring family’s summer home.

In 1955, when she was 40 and five years after she began working at Woodlands, Margaret Cunningham purchased the bungalow at 912-5th Street, New Westminster. Two years later, sometime during 1957, Dr Robert H MacLauchlan, moved to that address.

That she had a striving, if not a passion, for learning is evidenced by the fact that in 1964 she graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Education Degree. In the late autumn of the following year, on December 22, she and MacLauchlan were both charged with trafficking, along with Joseph Sperling 45 and Thelma Mosier 40.  The charges were based on two packages of heroin containing 20 ounces with a value of $200,000 being found in the home. It is interesting to note that in 1965 Margaret Anne’s house would have been worth between $8700 and $12,700.

Three days after Margaret Anne’s arrest, her daughter Lorraine was married in Mexico. Margaret Anne did not attend the wedding. One wonders if this was because mother and daughter were estranged or because to leave the country would have been contrary to the conditions of Margaret Anne’s bail. Less than two months later, on February 11, 1966, Cunningham entered her second marriage – this time to MacLauchlan. Was the marriage for love or for the legal convenience of her new husband? The new arrangement was solemnized in Lynden, Washington by a justice of the peace, without family or friends being present.

The year 1965 had been filled with notoriety for the Herrings. The year 1966 was worse – it contained tragedy. On March 4, 1966, Margaret Anne’s sister, Frances Brown, and her husband Gordon, were killed in airline crash at Tokyo airport. Ten days later, misfortune struck again when her father, Patrick Sidney Herring, died of a heart attack at his home at 612-8th Avenue.  One wonders how much responsibility Margaret Anne felt for this last event.

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Herring Family Monument


In a way, the colony that Colonel Thomas Moody laid out atop the bluffs overlooking the Fraser River was classic. Not only was it named after the heart of British power – Westminster but was given its name by Queen Victoria herself.

Similarly, Sapper George Herring, father of Arthur May Herring, progenitor of the New Westminster Herrings, was part of that persistent red line of British imperial authority that in the mid- and late 19th Century ran around the world. From Shanghai and Hong Kong in China, through India, Africa  and the Middle East via the Suez Canal, to North America, London held sway over a quarter of the globe’s continental surface. As the saying went, the sun never set on the British Empire. It was a world system based on British guns, grit, persistence and virtue; and the life and achievements of Arthur May Herring exemplified the application of the first three.

The British Empire 1897

George Herring was a member of a Royal Engineers detachment on the sun-drenched Greek island of Corfu when his son, Arthur May, was born in 1851. The elder Herring, who died within a few years of Arthur’s birth, was likely stationed on Corfu as part of the British-dominated administration which, after the defeat of Napoleon,  ran the Ionian Islands as a protectorate of the United Kingdom from 1815 to 1864. Upon George Herring’s death, his widow married another sapper, Philip Crart, and seven years later, Crart and his new family sailed around Cape Horn on the Thames City from England to New Westminster, with stops along the way in Chile and Victoria. During the voyage a son, Walter Crart, was born to Elizabeth and Philip Crart.

A few years after the family’s April 1859 arrival in New Westminster, where his step-father served as part of Royal Engineers detachment under Colonel Thomas Moody that was laying out the province’s first capitol, young Arthur was at the center of a family tragedy. He survived an attempt on his life by his mother, Elizabeth, who was suffering from post-partum depression. She did murder his small step sister Rosina, injured his half-brother Walter and left Arthur with life-long physical scars. A few minutes after attacking her children, she took her own life, by slashing her throat.

By 1860, the Colonial Office in London was expressing misgivings about the cost of the Royal Engineers contingent as well as the wisdom of entrusting Moody with civil responsibilities. The Columbia Detachment was thus disbanded in July, 1863. Apart from the Moody family, only 22 men and eight wives returned to England, while the remaining 130 sappers elected to remain in BC.

The deceased Mrs Crart (formerly Mrs Herring) also had a daughter, Sarah, who became New Westminster’s (and British Columbia’s) first school teacher. In October 1860 Sarah married Royal Engineer William Smith, who had been educated as a chemist and a druggist. Upon his discharge and, with his wife’s assistance, Smith opened a drug store on Columbia Street where Arthur (Sarah’s younger step-brother) got some training as a druggist. Smith was also in charge of New Westminster’s first hospital. When Smith died, Sophia married A Jefferson.
Following what probably amounted to a kind of apprenticeship in New Westminster, young Arthur Herring went to San Francisco where he received a degree in Chemistry and Electricity.  Upon his return to the Lower Mainland, he married his first cousin, Frances Elizabeth Powell, whose merchant class family came from King’s Lynn on England’s northeast coast.

In 1877 the couple moved from Langley to New Westminster. This is when they started their family. Frances Elizabeth Herring seems to have devoted the 1880s to the family enterprise and child-rearing. Between 1877 and 1889 she bore eight children (Arthur, John, Francis, George, Henry, Ernest, Alexander and Philip) of which four (Arthur, John, Philip and Frances) survived to adulthood. Although the Herrings enjoyed many middle-class luxuries, such as a servant and a summer residence at Boundary Bay, domestic life must have none the less been a formidable obligation for Frances.

For his part Arthur Herring displayed loyalty to the classic Victorian virtues of hard work, persistence and a belief in self-improvement. After attending, sometime before his 24th birthday, the four year collegiate course in California where he graduated with honours in Chemistry and Electricity, Herring then worked very successfully as a chemist and druggist for several years. Early on he demonstrated an entrepreneurial tendency: as electricity became popular and the electrical telegraph came into his own, Herring and some partners opened the San Francisco Electrical College to meet the great demand for telegraph operators by Western Union and other telegraph lines.

After divesting of his part in the Electrical College he returned to New Westminster and went further afield, mining in the province’s Cassiar, Peace River and Cariboo regions.  Once more demonstrating his entrepreneurship, at some point he even opened a successful chemist shop and drugstore in Barkerville.

Starting in his early 30s, Arthur May Herring was an Alderman in New Westminster, Chair of the Financial Committee of New Westminster, President and financier of the New Westminster Electric Light and Motor Power Company, prominent member of the Board of Trade, the Agricultural Society, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias as well as other Societies.

The year 1882 saw Arthur May Herring take an active role in establishing a cultural life in New Westminster by building the Herring Opera House, a 50 by 130 foot structure seating between 800 and 1200 people – four years before one could be established in Vancouver. He also displayed political ambitions on both the provincial and community level.

In 1890 Arthur Herring ran 7th out of 8 candidates for the three-member seat of Westminster in the 6th British Columbia election. Herring ran as an independent receiving 81 votes (12.18%) of 2866 votes cast. This was the home riding of the premier of the time, John Robson. Winning the other two seats were an opposition member, Chilliwack farmer Thomas Edwin Kitchen, and an independent, James Punch, who appears to have been the owner of the Brownsville Hotel, at the corner of Columbia and MacKenzie Streets in New Westminster. Punch was for a time also the Reeve of Surrey.

Arthur Herring’s wife, Frances Elizabeth Herring, within the realm of what interests and occupations were available to women in that era, seems to have been a match for him in the scope of her community involvement. Despite family responsibilities, Francis Herring became increasingly involved in journalism during the last decades of the century. She was the editor of the “Home circle” of New Westminster’s British Columbia Commonwealth in 1892. Her column focused on recipes, household hints, and garden advice, but also contained inspirational tales of career women and assertive wives and mothers as well. She is also reputed to have worked as the British Columbia correspondent for the Toronto Globe.

A quite prolific writer, between 1900 and 1914 Mrs Frances Elizabeth Herring wrote seven novels of which five were about British Columbia life. Mrs. Herring’s lifelong involvement in community politics and philanthropy intensified after the turn of the century. In the 1870s she had given controversial and explicitly political papers before the British Columbia teachers’ convention. Forty years later, she served as president of the Royal Columbian Hospital Women’s Auxiliary and was a member of the National Council of Women of Canada. A longstanding member of the Church of England, in 1909 and 1910 she was the secretary-treasurer of the literature committee of the New Westminster branch of the Woman’s Auxiliary to the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada, which distributed religious materials throughout the province. Also she led Bible study for young women. Her involvement in the community combined with her public advocacy of women’s suffrage. Two of her books were Among the People of British Columbia (1903) and Red, White, Yellow and White (1904). Francis Elizabeth Herring died of complications from diabetes in 1916. Her husband died 25 years later on May 29, 1941.

The Second Generation
Entrepreneurship and an appetite for the professions seem to have run in the Herring family. By 1898, the Herrings’ oldest son, Arthur Francis Charles, had joined his father in the latter’s chemist and druggist store at 85 6th Street in New Westminster.  This son displayed a rather peripatetic life both personally and geographically. On April 30, 1906, he married Emily Margaret McGuire of Montreal PQ in Salmon Arm, BC. The marriage did not last and, after a spell of traveling up and down the west coast by ship between BC and San Francisco, he is recorded has having lived in  Minnesota,  Florida and Indiana. Along the way he wrote a book on gastrointestinal disorders. He appears to have spent his last days in Lafayette, Indiana. He died in 1953.

The second son, John Victor Paul Herring (1878 – 1950) was a civil engineer with the Great Northern Railway in New Westminster. He married Dora Jane Stobart in 1914 and had son George.

Arthur May and Francis Elizabeth’s third son, (the other four died either in childhood or infancy), Philip Sydney Herring, wed former New Westminster May Queen Sarah Annie Tidy January 14, 1913. Over the years they had the following children: Margaret Anne, Frances, Philip, Stephen and Blythe.

Phillip Sidney Herring, like his father Arthur May, demonstrated both community service and political ambition, serving two one year terms as an alderman of Pitt Meadows council during 1916 and 1917. During 1917, he pulled up stakes in BC and bought a farm near Castor, Alberta. One of his sons said that his father had grown tired of pulling stumps from his BC property – first on Lulu Island and then Pitt Meadows.  There used to be a Herring Road in Pitt Meadows, but it is now part of the Pitt Meadows Airport.

Education ran heavy in the Herring family, perhaps prompted by the example of Arthur May who, as mentioned above, took a degree in chemistry and electricity in San Francisco. Of his three sons who survived to adulthood two of them, as mentioned above, gained a post-secondary degree: Arthur Francis Charles became a doctor and John Victor Paul became an engineer.

Although the third son, Philip Sydney Herring, appears not to have gone to university, his eldest son, Philip Sidney Herring Jr., after graduating from Hanna High School in Alberta, took engineering at the University of British Columbia beginning in 1936. In 1940, Phillip Sidney Herring Sr. enlisted in the Calgary Highlanders as a private in Calgary and his son enlisted in the Royal Canadian Engineers as a Lieutenant in New Westminster. 

After World War II in which Philip Sidney Herring Jr. served in Italy, where in December 1943 he was one of the first Canadians to enter Ortona, Italy, he went back to UBC.  Graduating in the civil engineering class of 1947, Philip Jr. moved first to Ocean Falls to begin his career in municipal engineering. In 1952 he became City Engineer in Kamloops and in 1957 he became Assistant City Engineer in Vancouver for 28 years, living in Burnaby and retiring in 1984.

The siblings of Philip Sydney Herring Jr. also demonstrated affinities for higher education in the professions. Not only did his oldest sister Margaret Anne go to teachers’ college (normal school) in Calgary but so did his second oldest sister Frances. Both women graduated in 1935 in the same class. His younger brother, Stephen, became a psychiatric nurse. Prior to both sisters’ deaths in 1966 (Margaret, of course, by murder and Frances in an airplane accident with her husband Gordon Bannister Brown in Tokyo), the only tragedy within the immediate family was their brother Blythe’s suicide in 1953. He had graduated from UBC with a BA in 1953.

However, tragedy struck another branch of Arthur May and Frances Elizabeth Herring’s offspring. In 1964, the same year that Margaret Anne, continuing her education, graduated from UBC with a B Ed, her cousin George Herring, 37, a commercial artist and his mother, the former Dora Jane Stobart, were  killed on November 7th, when their car collided with another driven by Roland McLachlan of Moro, Oregon. The driver in the Herring car, Dr Thelma Coulter who was a psychologist at Shaughnessy Hospital and a UBC faculty member, was also killed. One wonders what the connection was between the Herring mother and son, and Dr. Coulter.

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The MacLauchlan family came from Prince Edward Island. The patriarch of the family, Dr Donald MacLauchlan, whose family had been on the island for a few generations, in June 1888 married Annie Louise Hurst, a native of Lincolnshire, England. Beginning in 1889 and continuing over the next 17 years, their family grew to include five daughters (Rubie 1889, Pearl Annie 1893, Beatrice M. 1894, Maude Louise 1897 and Florence E. 1899) and two sons (Robert Henry 1892 and Donald 1905). There were 13 years between the two sons.

There was a great move westward on the Canadian prairies as 375,000 immigrants, nearly 40% from the British Isles, came to Canada. In 1912, with his covey of teenage daughters and his youngest son, Dr Donald MacLauchlan joined this vast movement and moved the family from Charlottetown, PEI to Calgary, Alberta. By then the westernmost prairie province had been free of its territorial status some seven years and Calgary was beginning a commercial boom. 

The MacLauchlan’s youngest son, Donald George, went on to become the family’s military hero and married well. In February 1931, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Calgary Highlanders, formed originally in 1910. His rise through the commissioned ranks was swift; he became a major in 1940 and went overseas with the Highlanders, eventually assuming command of the regiment on February 9, 1942 and staying in that position until October 29, 1944. In February 1943, the Colonel married Elizabeth Loder Johnson, the daughter of Baroness Selsdon, a lower echelon member of the British Aristocracy, whose first husband had been Lord Selsdon, several times a Member of Parliament in the Conservative and Unionist parties in Britain before the Second World War.

From what can be gleaned from and Google Archives, the MacLauchlan daughters, in two cases at least, had unsuccessful first marriages. One appears never to have married.

The oldest daughter, Rubie Irene, followed in her mother’s nursing footsteps. She immigrated to the United States in 1908 and, by 1910, she was living in New York City. Sometime around 1914, she married Dr William Ward and with him had two sons, Richard and Donald, whose ages were listed as 6 and 2 years old, respectively, in the 1920 US Census. By 1930, the couple had divorced and Dr. Ward had retained custody of their sons. In 1931 it was reported in the Salt Lake City Deseret News Rubie, now a divorcee, was a hospital matron, who was heading north to Calgary to visit her family. She died in 1948.

In 1895 it was noted that Pearl Annie MacLauchlan was suffering from TB in her neck glands (her brother Bob had it in his bones). In 1917, when she was 22, she married Thomas Clyde MacKenzie Miller in Vancouver, BC. She died March 9, 1972 somewhere in Canada. Information on under the family tree section indicates that Pearl Annie and Thomas had a daughter (BUT THAT INFORMATION IS LISTED AS PRIVATE) who married a Donald C Kidd.

Beatrice M, born in 1894, married William D. Emery in 1916 and they had one son, Gordon (second initial I). The Emerys at first lived with the MacLauchlans at 1026 14th Avenue West, Calgary AB. At some point this marriage ended because later she married a man surnamed Naismith. In 1938 she crossed the border at Sweet Grass, Montana. At the time of her death, she was listed as a member of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church as well as St. Andrew's Caledonian Society and the Victoria White Cane Club. Thus, blind in her later years, she died in Victoria BC. December 22, 1985. Newspaper reports of the time detail that she had been predeceased by her  son Gordon D. Emery of Calgary. She was buried in Calgary at Union Cemetery. 

Very little is known of the two youngest daughters, Maude Louise and Florence E (Elizabeth?). No information seems to be available as to if they ever married or had children.



In 1965, for a drug bust on the scale of the MacLauchlan event to have taken place in New Westminster was an exception. Newspaper reports during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s indicate that most of the trafficking and distribution in BC’s Lower Mainland was centred in Vancouver, and was run by a succession of criminal organizations.

In the days following the MacLauchlans’ arrest, the New Westminster Police Department stated that the doctor had come to their attention as a result of a drug seizure made during the previous month (November 1965). Careful trolling through the Sun and Province newspapers for November 1965 found only one case but it had an interesting name attached to it -- Hoy.  On November 25, 1965 Lawrence Douglas Hoy, 47, was with Gregory Arthur Sjolander when they were both arrested in the West End for possessing $20,000 worth of heroin for the purpose of trafficking.  Lawrence Douglas Hoy, along with his younger brother Gerald, came to police attention again in 1974 in relation to a bootlegging charge in North Vancouver.

We believe this is how Dr. Robert Henry MacLauchlan came under police surveillance. It is worth noting that the name Hoy is significant in his life: it was the maiden name of his first wife, Mamie Rowan Hoy whose parents were from Ontario. Are the Hoy brothers related to Mamie Rowan Hoy? Did the doctor keep in touch with relatives of his first wife and somehow entangle them in the drug smuggling business?

Another question to ask of course: where was the Lower Mainland’s heroin supply coming from? According to Stephen Schneider’sIced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, prior to 1960 the illicit narcotics trade in Canada was organized and run from Montreal. The main gang there was run by Jean Louis Bisson and Robert Tremblay. Their gang had a network extending throughout the Montreal area and it included such criminals as Lucien Rivard, Bill Lamy, Joe Horvath, Thomas Pythel, Louis Litoro, Walter Guay, Joseph-Marcel Perron, Stanley Los and Roger Martel. Indications are that, to some degree, the drug trade had corrupted at least a few public officials. For example, Lucien Rivard’s prison escape (while incarcerated on a drug charge) precipitated a scandal which reached into the highest levels of Lester Pearson’s Liberal government of the middle 1960s and caused the resignation of Attorney General Guy Favreau 

In his book Dragons of Crime, James Dubro writes, in reference to the Vancouver heroin trade:

In the 1960s the majority of heroin came to North America through the old Mafia-controlled French Connection route from Turkey to France, where it was processed and then sent on to New York City generally by way of Montreal. In the 1970s, the route heroin took was more frequently from Asia to Vancouver and then to the United States. This route, of course, was the same one taken by opium in the early parts of the century, but now the triads in Hong Kong, with the help of the five dragons and other corrupt Hong Kong police, were the principal movers of this new quality heroin.

During the 1960s and 1970s two west coast gangs – one run by William Faulder “Fats” Robertson and the other by the Palmer brothers (Douglas, Donald and Ray) – had connections to the Montreal Mafia. The Robertson gang appears to have come on the Vancouver scene a bit earlier than the Palmer gang. Newspaper reports of drug trafficking trials demonstrate that the associates of the Robertson gang included at one time or another Jack Tadich, Nelson Burney Woods, Bernie Lewis, Philip Michael Smith, Rolland Trudel, Lucien Mayer, Bunta Singh, William Victor Hansen, Jerome Roman Trojan, William Howard Wilson and Keith Anderson. Anderson, according to newspaper reports, seems to have associated with both the Robertson and Palmer gangs.

The Canadian Connection, a 1976 book by Jean-Pierre Charbonneau about the mafia in Canada, names a "Philip Michael Smith" as one of the "main satellites" of Robertson. Charbonneau implies that Robertson was not someone to mess around with and his book says that Robertson was questioned in 1969 about the murder of one Lucien Mayer, who was described as one of his (Robertson’s) "collaborators."

Judging from stories also in the Vancouver print media, the Palmers and their associate William Conrad Gunn became known later than the Robertson outfit. Also associated with the Palmers were Edward Ponak, Thomas Duncan, Eugene Edward Stensen, John Albert Smith, Andrew Smith, Michael John Watson, Robert Allen Porter and Clifford Luthala. It was through Stensen and Andrew Smith that the Palmers were also connected to the Bisson-Tremblay gang of Montreal.

One of the mysteries surrounding the murder of the MacLauchlans is which Lower Mainland organization the doctor likely belonged to. A retired member of the RCMP drug squad who was active in enforcement activities during the era when the MacLauchlans were shot thought it likely that the doctor was probably high up in the William Faulder “Fats” Robinson organization. We have also received information from a former Vancouver area reporter with good law enforcement connections that the police believed MacLauchlan was the Number 2 man on the west coast between California and Vancouver.

Do you remember Lorraine Cunningham who attended Lester Pearson High School graduating in 1959? [EMAIL US THE ANSWER]

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? [EMAIL US THE ANSWER]

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. [EMAIL US THE ANSWER]

Do you remember Dr. Robert Henry MacLauchlan who lived at 912-5th Street who walked his dog daily? [EMAIL US THE ANSWER]