The Border Bank Bandits


88 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps
ISBN 0-88839-255-9
DDC 364.1'552'09712




Reviewed by J.B. Snelson

J.B. Snelson is a librarian, bibliographer, and antiquarian bookstore
owner in Wolfville.


Smiling Johnny Reid and his boys robbed banks. The Reid gang, which
later split into the Reid and Davis gangs, didn’t go in for the
gun-toting, shoot-it-out style. Their style was to break into a
small-town bank in the wee hours of the night and blow the door off the

And Reid had an idea that made it more difficult for the law to catch
up with him. He would hang out in North Dakota; rob banks in Manitoba,
Saskatchewan, Alberta, Montana, and other such places; then cross
borders as quickly as possible. It is surprising how a line on a map
could stop the efforts of the police—especially in the 1920s, when the
police were understaffed and underequipped. For a while it worked. It
worked, in fact, until Arthur Davis of the breakaway Davis gang forgot
his keys at the site of an “unauthorized withdrawal.”

Records for the period are incomplete so there are some rather untidy
loose strings left at the end. Still, the basic story is clear and well
told, although the personality of Reid and his henchmen is not as clear
as one might like. A good film could nevertheless be made from the book.

The Border Bank Bandits is as entertaining a true-crime book as you are
likely to find, and a must for all public libraries and true-crime
enthusiasts on both sides of the border. The loose ends will probably
have everyone wanting more of Anderson’s sagas about the Prairies of
an earlier age. Told with a good deal of humor, this should make a nice
evening’s reading. Highly recommended.


Anderson, Frank W., “The Border Bank Bandits,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024,