The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime: From Captain Kidd to Mom Boucher


272 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-7710-0344-4
DDC 364.1'06'0971




Reviewed by Geoff Hamilton

Geoff Hamilton is a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of
British Columbia.


Distinguished crime reporters Peter Edwards and Michel Auger define a
criminal organization as “a group of three or more people whose main
activities include committing crimes for some benefit,” and they note
that in this book they have “largely focused on criminal activities in
which profit was the main motive, as opposed to passion, perversion,
mental illness, or politics.” The encyclopedia features some 300
entries, ranging from the 17th century to the present day, and includes
more than 150 black-and-white illustrations as well as an extensive
bibliography of related reading.

The bulk of the entries are devoted to biker gangs (Hells Angels, Rock
Machine, Satan’s Choice, etc.) and the various branches of the Italian
Mafia, but there is also a good deal of information on lesser-known
subjects. These include such colourful figures as Йtienne Brыlé, the
“Fur-Trading Outlaw” of the coureurs de bois; Cheng “Big Sister”
Chui-ping, mastermind of a large-scale human-smuggling operation in
Toronto and New York; Pearl “Girl Bandit” Hart, the Ontario-born
stagecoach robber; and Bill Miner, who became a folk hero for robbing
trains in the latter half of the 19th century.

The authors’ knowledge of national criminal enterprises is
comprehensive, and they have produced a useful and entertaining
resource. Entries on the criminal activity of particular Canadian
companies, such as the Calgary-based Talisman Energy, however, would
have been a valuable addition. As well, short essays on such common
organized crime activities as drug-running, prostitution, and money
laundering, and on such topics as the recruitment of members by the
organizations and the means used by law enforcement to prosecute
criminals, would have provided further context for the encyclopedia’s
other entries.


Edwards, Peter, and Michel Auger., “The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime: From Captain Kidd to Mom Boucher,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024,