85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar “News and Reviews”

The Truth and Nothing But The Truth

 

While many of you will regard what you see on this web site to be nothing more than a duplication of that which you will find in the book “85 Grams”: allow me to assure you couldn’t be further from the truth.

I have dozens of photos plus 70,000 words that make up sub-stories which were left on the editor’s cutting floor; they simply would have rendered the book financially inefficient if included. Hence I will utilize this space to serve up many of the edited photos and articles so you might just end up with the ‘full’ story on the heels of having read the book

For those who are Facebook patrons; you can always follow a varied dialogue on my facebook site; “Daryl Ashby: Author”. If you are so inclined you can help me gain traction on my marketing by “Liking” a post or two or better yet, recommending the site to your friends.

As an author, 80% of the marketing is left up to the author even if it is published by a high profile company and in exchange for the publisher’s minimal participation, they will be generous enough to reward the author for all his/her work by sharing with them 10% of the sale price as royalties.

Weigh that tidbit in balance with the $10K it cost us to research, write and edit this book (not counting the $30K uninsured car we totalled while returning from a Calgary interview) and you will see why most authors never recoup their investment.

So in closing; all the help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Enjoy !

 

 

Why Did I Do It?

I’ve been asked ‘what drove me to write about Art Williams’ and the answer is a little more complex than that of John Muir’s story. In truth; I felt I didn’t have a choice.

It all started in 1970 when front page headlines for every daily in the Pacific Northwest propagated word of Art Williams and his exploits. My wife and I were living in Kitimat, BC at the time (a very remote community due north 600 miles) and while isolated we still received the Vancouver Sun and Times / Colonist. The stories were fascinating to say the least.

When we moved back to Victoria in 1973, elderly friends followed and retired on acreage directly across the road from Art and Margaret Williams; Art’s sorted activities unbeknownst to them. Within the day Margaret was at their door with a warm smile and a cake welcoming them to the community. A friendship blossomed after that.

In 1974 as my wife and family made their way on the Dayliner to Forbidden Plateau for a weekend of skiing, a couple got on with their family at the Duncan stop, proceeded to sit in front of us and tell us how the husband was just released from jail for his involvement with Art Williams.

The hook came in late 1973 when a close friend of my wife’s family; Judge Les Cashman presided over Art Williams first trial. Judge Cashman offer me his entire portfolio of trial notes and court proceedings on a silver platter.

So as you can see, the story actually came to me; I didn’t go looking for it.

 

 

What Kind of a Man Was Art Williams

 

What type of man makes it onto Canada’s ‘Most Wanted List’. One that fancies himself doing ‘Pedi Point’ as is the case where Art created his regiments crest while convalescing from one of his war injuries, or is it the man who shows no fear and climbs to the top of a spar dress in women’s cloths without the benefit of a safety line (Woss Lake logging sports show 1961).
Or maybe it is a bit of both characters.
Think what you will, Art was not a man to back down in the face of adversity and stood more than once unflinching face to face with a member of the RCMP holding a shotgun to his belly.
Informants We’ve Come to Know and Love
As part of our research we uncovered the names of the two primary witnesses via the Vancouver Appeals court trial transcripts.
Both are currently living under witness protection.
Stanley Cross (given name) is fighting Hep C and Diabetes and wishes now that he had done his time rather than rat out Art and the leaders of the local bike gang. The latter fellows received pretty lengthy terms and made no secret a bounty had been placed on Stanley’s head.
We located the second fellow known as E752 in Central America. He was not only alarmed that I found him but flabbergasted that I would risk my own well being to make contact. As “85 Grams” will give testament, his personal career made Art Williams look like a choir boy.
E752 agreed to fly up to BC and meet with Wendy and I at a spot he would define for us only minutes before the meeting. We knew it was going to be in Tsawwassen, but not exactly where.
Wendy and I travelled over to the mainland on a set date, at a set time, nervous as to where it would lead or even if we would be granted the freedom to return home.
Once off the ferry we received a call on my cell to drive into the first mall on the right side off the main drag and park in front of London Drugs. He asked what car we were driving and hung up.
I got out and sat on a bench fronting the building and surveyed the parking lot as Wendy remained in the car.
Within 5 minutes I saw a fellow off in the distance dressed like a Peruvian with a woven satchel over his shoulder and making his way towards us though the parked cars.
He introduced himself with a very overpowering demeanor and directed me back into our car while he proceeded to climb into the back seat.
Before any conversation ensued he asked for our cell phones which we gave over willingly. He remove the batteries and sym cards from both then handed them back. He next reached into his satchel and pulled out a small black box which he held over us and various parts of the cars interior. This was followed by him handing us a CD with instructions to place it in the car’s player (turns out it was some kind of frequency scrambling system) Feeling assured there were no listening or tracking devices he directed us to the Holiday Inn just down the road. It appears he had booked us in for the night whether we intended to stay or not.
In the room sat his lovely wife looking as nervous as Wendy and I felt.
We sat there for 6 hours as he answered question after question never hesitating to share secrets never shared with another person.
He added so much to “85 Grams” I wish I could acknowledge him openly in the book.
We have since become the best of friends.
The image is he and his wife enjoying their retirement.
The Cast of Thousands
I’ve thought many times that this story could have been accurately titled “The Cast of Thousands” simply because of so many people were involved in the events surrounding Art Williams and his story “85 Grams”. I will attempt to share as many personalities on this web site and my Facebook site (Daryl Ashby: Author) as possible without giving away the story itself.
Don Bohun is an interesting character. He is a close friend and confident of Art Williams, but more importantly; he was one of Art’s lawyers. The fellow Art ran to when he needed some dirty little deed dealt with in a court of law and didn’t want to spend a lot of money to do it.
I had a little difficulty finding Don when I started my interview process. I learned he had an office on Menzies St in Victoria but when I paid it a visit, the doors were closed and a ‘for rent’ sign hung in the window.
The internet is such a wonderful resource and I’ve located the majority of my characters through sheer determination and tenacity digging and combing its pages for days on end.
Don Bohun’s name popped up one day as having been the Crown’s primary witness in a trial against some scumbag who bilked tens of thousands of dollars out of unsuspecting investors.
This fellow had developed a scheme where he promoted a development and offered a return on investors money that was just too good to be true (you recall what they say about something that’s ‘too good to be true?’).
The downside is Don knew what this guy was up to and offered him a backchannel to launder the money. Needless to say Don was caught and given two options:
* be disbarred and serve some time
* become the Crown’s primary witness to put the Scumbag away
Don chose the latter as he had an aversion to Ferry food and he figured the food inside a Federal institution couldn’t be much better. The downside to his cooperation is the BC Law Society also gave him two options (interesting how these types of events never go away without at least a minor hiccup).
* retire from law
* be disbarred
In this case Don chose the former (wise man eh?)
He now lives in a small $150 a month apartment in Costa Rica. Comes home to visit his daughter and girlfriends semi-annually (and to top up his BC Med insurance requirements).
But back to how I finally met him:
The internet article spoke of the pending court case so I paid the Victoria Court House a visit and dug until I found the case and the pending date.
On the day of the trial I sat in the back row planning my approach.
As the trial drew to a close I slipped out and stood in front of the double doors leading into the hallway. Out walks Don feeling like he wants to get as far away from his former client as possible in as short a time as possible and up pops me right in his path. He couldn’t move left or right; the only place he could go was back into the courtroom to face the man he’d just condemned and I knew that was not a favourable option for him.
I told him who I was and what I wanted. You could see the trepidation in his eyes; “What’s next” -“When will my past stop haunting me”.
Without giving him two options, I walked Don across the road to a coffee shop where he offered up a fair bit of insight into the Art few people got to see, but kept his dialogue pretty well focused on Art’s legal activities, professing he knew very little about the illegal (yea really!). I figured he was smart enough to know what happens to those who know too much.
Where his knowledge really proved beneficial though is with the details surrounding Art and his flight in Art’s small Cessna to Belize three months prior to Art’s disappearance (all he will say is the trip for Art was purely business – well dah).
In the end they had to made two trips as the first attempt was thwarted by a couple of Cuban Migs whose pilots took exception to Art and Don flying over Cuban airspace.
If you want all the blood curdling details about their trip you are going to have to purchase the book “85 Grams”. I can assure you it will cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.
This image is Don with his father in the 60’s
Don Easton Speaks Out

Don Easton a retired Undercover member of the RCMP and Author of the Fictional Crime ‘Jack Taggart Series’ speaks out about “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”:

“I checked out your website and particularly liked the home page as it is intriguing.
All I’d ever heard about Art Williams was in a caution when I was investigating something in Alberta (totally unrelated) and some member from a drug unit (who had no involvement with the case but had heard about it) told me to be careful, because the guys in BC took down some lab in Duncan that was highly sophisticated and there was a worry about booby traps.
He told me the bad guy was arrested but ‘appeared’ to have died in a plane crash – but his body and plane had never been found. At the time I, like others, were sceptical that he had really died.”

I’m often asked about true crime novels when I’m doing book signings, so will certainly pass the name of your book along as I think it would interest locals who are into that.
Also want to congratulate you on your perseverance and the steps you took to obtain the information required for you to write it!”

You can gain more information about Don and his work at: https://www.dundurn.com/authors/don-easton

 

 

Truth or Fiction

Art Williams had a propensity for fabricating what sometimes appeared to be fictional events so as to elevate himself in his own mind if not to that of the listener.

One such story was relayed to me and centered on his military involvement during the Second World War.

It went like this:

“The only injury I suffered was when I and another guy captured three German officers after which we forced them into a house and began to interrogate them. I was standing in front of one of them, both of who were seated in a chair, when another the Germans pressed the muzzle of his rifle against the front door key hole in an attempt to silence the fellow under interrogation. Anyway the shot missed the guy in the chair and blew the end of my finger clean off my right hand.”

This image is Art at age 19.

 

 

 

One of Many

Art Williams only embraced those who had above average intelligence as close intimate confidents . Those that fell outside his benchmark had a purpose in his great plan but they never reached a level of acceptance that could influence Art’s thinking on a daily basis.

Kristine Loomis was a young vivacious, free spirit that worked her way into Art’s trusted circle. Genetically modified at conception, she was implanted with superior genes from both her mother and father.

Her mother Ruth was a self-professing activist who marched against all things that steered our society along the wrong path whether it be nuclear proliferation or the logging of the few old growth forests that remain. Ruth was also a prolific writer of short stories, all of which I have read and enjoyed.

Her father Gordon was a US electrical engineer and former professor of the same influence at a US university before he became disillusioned with the course of US politics and fled north during the early 60’s.

Both parents came to know Art Williams. While Ruth was cautious, Gordon was drawn in by Art’s mind and his ever challenging way of conversation. It was as though Gordon was held under a spell so that no matter what common sense Ruth threw his way, he was unable to foresee any pitfalls.

As destiny would have it, Kristine was drawn to Art’s dream to produce a ‘hybrid mushroom’  bred on newspaper and human waste, that would feed the world. Being home schooled by her parents she lacked nothing a public school system could offer, but in fact developed a thirst for knowledge beyond that which was readily available at home.

Kristine studied all things related to mycology and then approached Art for a position as his Chief Scientist in the newly incorporated BC Institute of Mycology; Art’s dream started taking life. Right away Art could see she was a ripe mind ready and willing to follow his vision and the results thereof are well correlated within my book “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”; hence I will not indulge you further on that subject.

I will go on record however to say that while Kristine would have had to know or at least suspect what Art was doing under her nose in the lowest and darkest corner of the structure known as the Institutes lab and headquarters, she strongly denies to this day that she had anything to do with the design and production of MDA.

With the demise of Art’s empire in the late 70’s and the passing of her father, Kristine married and then moved to her father’s home in the deserts of California where she currently acts as a political activist for the rights of the disabled, a platform for which she is well skilled, having herself advanced forms of Rheumatoid Arthritis herself.

Kristine has been kind enough to share with me her vivid memory of those days when Art made the headlines and more particularly that which never made the headlines; for that I will remain grateful.

The first image is of Kristine during the days she worked with Art. The second photo was taken in approximately 2004.

The bike was the handiwork of her boyfriend Lou Brown which Lou had welded together with scraps lying around Art’s property. Lou’s involvement with Art and what became of him, will be shared with you in the days to come.

Hopefully the sharing of these personalities will help you to appreciate their unique contribution to the story that became “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”.

 

 

Lou Brown – Art Williams’ Craftsman

 

What Lou Brown lacked in stature he made up for in determination and pure guts. There was nothing he wouldn’t tackle and for the most part he succeeded at all he attempted.

Lou was part of Art Williams’ inner circle but blessed with the benefit of his sixth sense he managed to slip beneath the authority’s radar.

While Lou may have stuck his finger in the cookie jar on occasion, his expertise was in the design and fabrication of that which you can’t purchase at the corner store. If Art needed a metal hinge or a complicated set of locks, he would fabricate them out of scrap metal laying about Art’s property. When a cabin was required for a remote lab, his ability to craft logs into livable accommodation was called upon once again.

Lou grew up in the back of Art’s Ladysmith property as a part of a hippy commune to a mother who was simply lost in the Flower Child movement. This made him a natural for all things Art Williams.

By the time the walls of Art’s world came tumbling down Lou had already taken refuge at Barn’s Bay, one of the most remote and isolated areas of New Zealand. There with  is new wife he raised a brood of four children on what they could grow in the foreshore soil or scavenge from the ground around him, from the sea or the jungle that held the shoreline captive.

Two of his children shared his tenacity and have made names for themselves that are worthy of note:

Lou’s second eldest daughter Casey was an energetic revolving door of physical extremes. No challenge is off limits. No contest unbeatable. She is herald as a World Cup Downhill skier. She held the title to the Queen of Crankworx, and the Enduro World Series in mountain bike racing has been hers. Do yourself a favor and check out “https://www.bikemag.com/the-tao-of-casey-brown/”

Sam Brown was Casey’s older brother and the idol of her life.

What Sam could do, Casey would try to do better. While near impossible in reality; the challenge was met head on.

Sam was an adrenaline junky and saw physical obstacles as though they were mathematical problems, each with a reasonable solution; he just had to find it and generally he did.

Regretfully Sam’s life was cut too short yet even so some have suggested it was fulfilled. He was a paradox unequaled in most young people today who seem to lack any form of drive or even the will to be someone memorable. Check out “https://www.bicycling.com/news/a20004956/sam-brown/” and “hamptster wheel – https://youtu.be/UWYfoF4a9fQ”.

Both siblings are a direct reflection of their father, without whom Art Williams would have been at a loss.

Read more in “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

 

    

 

 

 

Truth or Fiction?

Art Williams (book 85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar) had so many war stories that I could validate only a few through his war records. The following story remained questionable as it was relayed to me by his trusted friend and lawyer Don Bohun:

“Art once told me how during the war he was sent behind enemy lines to rob banks. He and another guy had amassed so much money that they bought a hotel in Amsterdam. When the war was over it was considered proceeds of war crimes so he gave it back to the Dutchman.

I figured he was full of crap but there was this time I was with him in Ottawa, trying to find out why the government ruled MDA an illegal drug, and here if we don’t run into that same Dutch fellow. Art was larger than life. Many times when things seemed too outrageous to believe, something would happen that would make a believer out of me.”

This image is of Art in Germany in 1945 only months before the Germans surrendered.

 

 

 

Vancouver Island’s own Godfather

Dale Elliott is as high as one gets in Art Williams (book “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”) hierarchy, short of Art himself. To Art there was no one more trusted and no one more willing to take a bullet for the Wizard of Ladysmith, Art Williams.

He brought to Art his established membership with the ruthless bike gang that ran the Mafia off of the streets of Vancouver Island in the 60’s and a ruthless demeanor, case hardened by years in the military where he survived by his wits.

As I cautiously worked my way up the pecking order to interview Dale I did so with a fair degree of trepidation as every level of authority I had interviewed prior to that date expressed a need for caution. In their opinion Dale and his immediate cronies had more reason not to see my book published as I did for wanting to complete ten years of research and writing.

As with everyone else on the investigative list, I finally tracked him down and he agreed to meet; albeit with noticeable hesitancy in his voice. The agreed to spot was the old Cassidy Inn (now a pile of ash, following an suspect fire a couple of years back).

I arrived early as is my normal ‘MO’ and took up a seat near the entrance where I could monitor and evaluate each individual as they entered. This was my means of staying on top of my situation as the physical odds of sheer numbers might to be stacked against me. My expectations of a rough looking fellow with an entourage of three or four muscle bound goons quickly melted away as this fellow well into his 70’s wandered in the door as if he owned the place.

Somehow he recognized me without introduction and motioned for me to follow him to the furthest, rear corner of the pub. My anxiety took a leap forward as Dale took control of the setting and all things around him.

I quickly moved into my spiel that I was writing about Art Williams and I sincerely wanted his take on the events surrounding Art’s life. I could tell he was sizing me up before he started to share but it didn’t take long for him to confess “It’s about time that story was told” which led to a six hour interview and many others to follow.

What was most significant about that first visit was the way “all” the  patrons of the pub without exception, greeted him. As each entered the establishment, they came to him in his far corner and paid him homage either in the form of a verbal greeting, a fist bump or a cordial nod of the head. He was not only known by all; he was revered by all.

One particular fellow stays lodged in my mind.

After a few hours of Dale sharing, this fellow who I would guess was in his early 30’s wandered into the pub and straight away to where Dale and I were sitting. He eyed me with a hairy eyeball, then greeted Dale with a firm handshake after which he spoke in hushed tones for a minute or two.

A few minutes after this Dale took a trip to the bathroom to relieve himself of at least a half dozen beers (with a total of 20 – I counted – before our six hours was up). While he was in the bathroom this young fellow sauntered over to our table a second time and asked who I was and what I wanted of Dale.

Being who I am, I gave him very little to nothing in the way of information which clearly made him feel ill at ease. He turned on his heels and went straight into the bathroom to address Dale.

Dale returned to the table and shared with me that the fellow told him I was a cop or someone wanting to entrap Dale, to which we both had a good laugh.

Dale and my relationship grew from that day and while his moral stance on most things in life differ from mine, I have to confess I grew to respect him and the hard life that he had led, with one foot always over the edge .

Dale’s life is a story onto itself with much of it shared between the pages of “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”. For me his passing in Sept three years back represented a loss of a modern day Butch Cassidy. A life I will forever remember.

This is Dale on the right while serving time for the Art Williams case in William Head Penitentiary.

 

 

Breaking News

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar” is now available on Chapters.ca, Amazon, Kindle, Kobo & Nook. We are currently negotiating to have it in a limited number of Chapters stores (referred to in the industry as ‘Brick & Mortar’). Each week we will make progress to gain exposure and will be sure to keep you posted.

As it is; sales this past week have been brisk and to date the response from our reads has been over-the-top positive. If you have difficulty acquiring your copy, contact Wendy at ‘wendyashby@shaw.ca’ and she will be certain you are cared for.

Enjoy the read

 

 

 

Bad to the Bone
The following image is of the 101 Knights motorcycle gang that controlled Vancouver Island during the 60’s & 70’s. They saw a financial benefit to move from their home base in Powell River during the early 60’s to the Nanaimo area where they quickly gave all seven other bike gangs an option; either destroy their colours (the patch on the back of their vest) or face the consequences. All but one group tossed their colours into the waste basket. The group that held out (Bounty Hunters) were quickly dissipated through physical force.
Believe it or not but the Mafia had a foothold on the lower Island during the 50’s and early 60’s. The 101 Knights gave them an ultimatum as well which they accepted without debate. This left the Knights the only force to be reckoned with and they wasted no time in becoming one of Art Williams preferred corridors for distribution.
In 1983 the Knights patched over to the Hell’s Angles and remain the dominate force on the Island today. I’d like to publicly thank the HA Sergeant at Arms for offering me the photo and for allowing me to use it as freely as I have. This was no small gesture of trust.
None of the fellows in the photo are plying the streets today. All are well on in age with a couple that have passed away from natural causes, three have ‘mysteriously disappeared’, a number were able to retire and now enjoy a warmer climate, while a couple are receiving room and board courtesy of Her Majesty for that which they say are not of their doing.
If it were not for the ‘101 Knights’ it is unlikely Art Williams would have been able to provide 85% of the Westcoast market with MDA.

 

My Behaviour made Art look like a Choir Boy

The words of the Crown’s prime informant ‘E752’, into all things Art Williams and his MDA empire could not have been better scripted has they be drafted by a Hollywood writer. The informant knew who he was, what his motive was for cooperating and in all likelihood how the whole event would play out when he was through.

In his own words he describes how he conducted his part of the investigation:

“I was unmanageable. The entire case was ill conceived yet well funded. I was manipulating them (RCMP). I would disable the recorder they wired to the inside of my leg if it was convenient for my needs and yet I was reliable when I saw it was necessary.

I still have hours and hours of the transcripts that never seemed to make it into the cops arsenal. At times it was not suitable for the cops to know what Art and I were talking about, hence the continuity of evidence was not always there.

As the infighting started they became more dangerous and that put me in harms way unintentionally. The fact is the RCMP were the ones on trial. I left them with mitigating damage as best I could. They were trying to put a circle around Art but it was I who got trapped taping the RCMP as much as I was taping Art. The RCMP never made good on their promises to me. Fact is, they deceived me from the beginning. The motives they portrayed were in fact not their real motives.

Some of the motivation I had behind working for the RCMP was to avenge the death of my brother. He had gotten mixed up with the wrong group of people and one of the fellows took a mind to end his life early. My objective from that point on was to see that his in turn ended before he planned it.

By working with the cops, I had a license to make the contacts I needed which would lead me to the fellow I wanted. He ended up dying as it was. Over time my objective dimmed. I simply fell in love with the power.

Art was brilliant. He showed me how to make 82% Cocaine Hydro Chloride. Art would read the Fisher Scientific Catalogue like I would read Sears.”

The image is E752 enjoying his new identity.

 

 

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Does the photo below look like a man who could be Canada’s most wanted? Small in stature, frumpy, geekish. He certainly doesn’t look like a criminal mastermind or someone pulling in millions of dollars under the radar. He didn’t wear fancy clothes or drive a fancy car (just an old Ford pickup).

From those who have spent time with Art Williams, they say there was no subject that he could not engage in and leave you totally exhausted once the conversation was over. As Professor Gordon Loomis once said; “Your mind will never be the same after talking to Art”.

He didn’t decide to move in a certain direction and do so without some serious planning, but prepared highly technical drawings with calculations to prove his theories before attempting to actually fabricate something. This was the case in the designing of the William’s Bow, an artesian bow that rivaled any commercially produced during that era. He studied bows and arrows archers used from the middle ages and still hold the record for flight distance; before creating an arrow that would stay true to its course longer than any on the market.

If it came to creating a hybrid mushroom (for which he received a hefty government grant) or designing a gel capsule machine, or an automated archery target system (both of which he had patented); he put 100% of his attention into it to insure it was as good as it could be.

The same can be said of his self-taught interest in synthetic drugs. He studied every aspect of how MDA could be produced (and there are a number) and came up with a formula that yielded previously unheard of levels of purity. During his time, no one was producing an equal product. Even the RCMP chemist could not replicate his results with the healthy budget and all the resources they had at their disposal.

Art Williams was truly “The Wizard of Ladysmith”.

 

Was His Death Just an Elaborate Hoax

While the majority of what you thought you knew of Art Williams has now been corrected or clarified within my book “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”, one mystery remains: “Did Art die in the reported plane crash or was it a smoke screen to engineer his escape to a warmer climate”.

Most of this mystery has been unraveled within my book but I will share with you a few of the interesting anecdotal events that preceded his disappearance.

Three months prior to him vanishing, Art with his friend Don Bohon crisscrossed the US in Art’s Cessna to Florida and then southwest over Cuban airspace towards their destination of Belize. This first trip was interrupted by the Cuban air force, the results of which is a story onto itself and well documented within the book so I won’t go into detail here, save to say that their route across the states was not trouble free.

A second trip was made a few weeks later with Bohun plus Bohun’s girlfriend Sue Townsend and again this trip was interjected with issues not of their own doing. Regardless; during both trips they incurred weather far more challenging than that which reportedly caused Art’s crash over the 20 mile flight from Vancouver to the Nanaimo airport.

Both trips were reported by Bohun to be ‘business related’ but he is unable or unwilling to confirm that Art transported large sums of money each time in preparation of his retirement there. It appears Bohun and he went their separate ways once standing on Belize soil so anything is possible.

Other points of interest are comments Art made to his mycology chemist Kristine Loomis, his friend Happy Laughin, his right-hand man Dale Elliott and others during the weeks preceding his final flight to Vancouver. As an example; his comment to Kristine was; “If you want to disappear, you have to be able to leave family and friends without a second thought.”

Many of those who know of Art’s story remain skeptical he actually made these trips, but thanks to his step-son Daniel Ferguson I have a number of photos Art took while there, one of which is posted below. Many other photos are multiple images creating a 360 degree impression of a particular spot and a residence at the head of the panorama. Remember; Art never did anything without a purpose.

 

 

Fiction vs Nonfiction

Fictional Crime is a great way to escape reality, then again if you can sink your teeth into a gripping True Crime narrative, the reading experience is unequalled.

In the writing of ’85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar’ my wife and I searched out every point of reference in Art’s life so that we could bring reality to that which was previously tabloid headlines.

This is my wife Wendy climbing through the hidden tunnel into Art’s underground lab.

 

Tight Squeeze

Before Wendy could actually access Art’s lab she had to squeeze through a small porthole in the tunnel

 

The Portal into Art’s Underground Lab was a 3 inch thick slab of steel.

 

 

In the Beginning

Before we could access the hidden lab we had to navigate a narrow corridor with its walls blackened out so as to defuse any light, but a steel ladder blocked the enterence to the passageway which appeared unmoveable; that is until you locate the single rung of the ladder that triggered its release from the wall.
Even if you made your way beyond this point to the very rear of the corridor, the steel vault door was hidden by a metal shelving unit and not obvious. It could only be released and swung away from the wall if you reached up under one particular shelf and pulled a trigger downward. The level of brilliance that went into the entire design was one reason Art Williams was heralded “The Wizard of Ladysmith”.

 

 

What Flight Training did Art Williams Really Have?

With the reported crash of Art Williams (85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar) just south of Vancouver BC, in 700 ft. of water; the official coroner’s report suggests that Art had no instrumentation training and therefore lacked the ability to maintain level flight in clouds where there was no visual reference to the ground

Opinions on Art’s training vary with the same frequency as the mistruth’s presented in the official reports or via the tabloids. According to Paul Jackson, Art’s flight instructor, the facts are:

  • Art had acquired his “Instrumentation Certification”, which means he could fly at night without the need for visual reference to the ground.
  • Art had also logged 25 hrs. flying a twin engine Apache under Paul’s tutorship

Historically, Art refused to maintain the required flight log for each trip he took, whether it be a short hope into Desolation Sound to clear his head or a jaunt back east to visit his sister in Winnipeg. No one was going to buttonhole his comings and goings, hence the actual hours he put in behind the controls of one of his planes remain a mystery.

Paul states: “Art told me once that he had landed at Nanaimo in the dark by working out the angle of a single light on the tower for reference. I don’t know how he could do it.”

Paul’s son Richard states: “Art insisted on flying in really bad weather all the time. He just liked to get places and didn’t like to be held up by anything. If he was going somewhere, he had to do it right now.”

One of the most convincing reports on Art’s ability came from his friend Don Bohun while the two were flying back from Florida three months prior to his disappearance:

“On our second day flying back, we found ourselves in the middle of a lightning storm somewhere over the New Mexico desert. What started out as little cumulus clouds, quickly turned into a dark dust storm, with twisters and lightning dropping around us. We looked about and everything was the same black. It was moving along at the same speed as we were travelling, so Art turned to IFR. No matter how far we went we just couldn’t seem to outrun it. But he just kept boogying along.”

The image is of Art and Bohun examining his Cessna following the conflict with the two Cuban Mig’s. If you would like more on that drama, you are just going to have to purchase my book.

 

Hallelujah

I can here the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ echoing off the east slopes of Mt. Benson (west of Nanaimo): “Hallelujah, hallelujah”. Listen close. You should be able to hear it.

The sound is all rooted in the success I had today at having my book “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar” placed on the shelves of Nanaimo’s Woodgrove Mall, Chapters Bookstore. Hey! Trust me; there is really a faint whisper of the Cohen’s voice drifting along on the edge of the prevailing wind.

Placing your book in any bookstore (with the exception of Salamander Books in Ladysmith – which was a heartfelt invitation) is an uphill grind if you are self-published or an Indie writer as is politically correct today. As example, The Mulberry Book Store in Parksville and Qualicum will take your book but only if you pay them a $50 fee in advance. They refer to it as a ‘handling fee’ of all things. Once sold they want to take another 40% off the top of the retail price to offset all the work they went to in processing the handling fee.

Well that’s enough ranting for now.

Keep your eye on the Victoria Times Colonist, Goldstream Gazette, Ladysmith Chronicle and Nanaimo Bulletin as they all will be coming out with an article telling the world just how great a read “85 Grams” really is (well I’m hoping that’s what they say).

Thanks for tuning in.

The image is of the hatch leading to Art’s escape tunnel from his underground lab.

 

 

Where Do I Go From Here

I’ve been asked where I’m going to go from here with my writing and a straightforward answer is not all that easy to come up with.

Because I find non-fiction more attractive to pursue than fiction; you can’t pushed out a book like ’85 Grams’ in a matter of months, but require extensive research if you pride yourself on a degree of accuracy. As example; the ‘John Muir: Westcoast Pioneer’ book consumed 4 years of research before I started putting the pages together as a manuscript. The ‘Art Williams’ book was a wee bit longer.

I’m not a young man and one never knows the date of their mortality, couple to this is a phobia I have about leaving behind something unfinished (it just isn’t going to happen if I have any control over it).

Having said that; I have two manuscripts which I am about a third of the way through. One covers the life of a small girl (now a grown woman) who faced unspeakable sexual abuse at the hands of her narcissistic mother. The trauma the young girl endured transitioning into her adult years and the weird turns of events later in life that brought her back to the beginning make up the basis for the story.

I have a second manuscript started on the life of George Robinson, the Englishman who replaced John Muir as the overseer of the mines in Nanaimo (if you read the Muir book, he was the fellow who caved John McGregor’s head in with a smithy hammer during a argument). I was given George’s personal journals by a great, great grandson in hopes I would complete the work. It makes for quite a fascinating read if I may say so.

Other than these; I had been asked by Ralph Harris to write his life story, but at the time there were too many feet on the ground that he would have to implicate, so that seemed unhealthy to not only him but myself. Ralph was the fellow who kept the kettles churning out MDA following the disappearance of Art Williams and incarceration of Dale Elliott. Since then he has been a major player in the importation of contraband to the Pacific Northwest throughout the past 40 years. (Research the ship Western Wind & Baku if you’d like to know just how fascinating a life he led). Regretfully Ralph has recently passed away so his story is unlikely to hit the press.

Also ‘E752′ (the primary informant in ’85 Grams’) had suggested that he would like to see his life put to print. At the moment this project has the greatest attraction for me. His life is explosive and a real life drama that could overshadow the Art Williams story. I won’t go into detail save to say that there was no form of illegal drug that he was not prepared to import and he did so most times with the full knowledge of the authorities.

He accomplished this by hiring himself out to the authorities as a bon-a-fide informant who would work his way into their primary targets life and then provide them with the material they needed to take the individual down. This he admittedly doing for the sole benefit of taking over turf and fulfilling his own agenda of importing and trafficking as much volume as time permitted.

So I hope I’ve answered your question (for the most part).

The two images attached are of the lid (last trap door) out of Art’s tunnel and into his underground lab (do you remember the photo of Wendy peering out of the tunnel into the lab. This lid covered that access). You can see the hinge in the middle and the complex locking mechanism operated by hydraulic rams. This left the lab virtually inaccessible should the authorities manage to get that far.

 

 

 

Show Me Da Money

It’s no secret Art made huge amounts of money during his MDA production and trafficking spree but the question remains; ‘what happened to it all’. He spent some on lab equipment, a $70,000 Electron Microscope as example. He never spent any large amount on himself. He drove the same old truck and dressed in the same frumpy clothes. He carried a wad with him but it was generally $20’s wrapped in a few hundred dollar bills to make it look larger than life.

I know Ray Ridge and others spent a great deal of time combing over the property (with Art’s backhoe) and through the buildings looking for where he had hidden it once Art and Margaret had vanished.

We know Art had no faith in a formal banking system and in fact he did bury or hide large sums for future use. An example of this is the $10,000 that Ralph Harris found hidden up under the attic insulation in the old barn (new lab) and borrowed (maybe it wasn’t quite borrowing).

We know that Happy Laughin found the $57,300 hidden in Margaret’s woodpile in an ice-cream bucket and being the guy that he is, he turned it over to the cops. (Happy took care of all Margaret’s heavy manual needs when Art disappeared). {As a side-note; ‘who did the cops give the $57,000 to after they bought everyone on the force a chocolate covered donnut. Shirley Ferguson states she never saw a penny, as does the extended family’. Certainly it didn’t just vaporize into some civic coffee fund.}

We know that Art took $90,000 with him on a trip to Belize and left it with Gordon Loomis in Desert Hot Springs. We also know he left $90,000 with Guy Antilla with instructions to share it equally with Margaret and Shirley if something was to happen to him.

So what about the remaining millions of dollars?

Well Danny Ferguson is likely the best lead on that subject as he was with Art on two occasions when Art did something rather unexplainable and lasting in Danny’s mind. It was common knowledge that Art buried money in metal munitions canisters plus he did everything with a purpose using riddles were an everyday form of communication between he and those close to him.

I will let Danny tell you what happened in his own words:

‘Once I was taken to the farm and we walked up to a big tree and he said a number of times, “isn’t that a beautiful tree”, then he started walking into the field dropping chocolate bars until we got back to the truck. Then he turned to me again and said “wasn’t that a beautiful tree”.

He wanted me to go back to that tree which I finally did with a metal detector. Unfortunately the new owner saw me and chased me off before I could find out what sent the needle soaring.

Another time he took me up into the mountains behind our home and there were all kinds of things amongst the trees that didn’t belong there.’

Well just maybe Lotto 649 is not your best chance of winning millions and there is still a buried treasure out there to be found.

This is Danny at the time of the event.

 

 

 

Art Williams the Sleuth

Much has been written about Art Williams of the book ’85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar’ and his antics, but little has been shared of what he did for the betterment of others.

One such story goes like this:

On Jan. 30, 1977 Robert Geddes Ferguson was beaten and strangled in his home at 3379 New Lake Cowichan Hwy. Robert was Shirley’s uncle. Shirley was Art Williams common-law partner at the time of his disappearance.

On Jan. 30th Shirley received a call from the RCMP to report her uncles murder and was asked to come to his home to determine if anything was missing (and to clean up the mess).

Let’s allow Shirley to tell you in her own words what she found: “My uncle use to save pennies, nickels and dimes in jars and he just talked to the wrong person. They took a hammer to his head and there was blood everywhere. It was a terrible mess and I had to clean it up. They ended up putting a telephone cord around his ankles and then his neck. As his legs tried to relax it slowly strangled him.”

The cops had no leads and didn’t seem to be putting much effort into finding who did it. Art had no tolerance for violence so he started putting feelers out into the community to see what popped up. At one point he dressed up as an old man and went to one of the local bars just to ask subtle questions.

After a few days a guy approached Art telling him a kid had wanted to sell him a ring. The guy was suspicious but never let on to the kid. He bought the ring and then took it to Art, but first got all the contact info he could for the kid. The ring turned out to be Shirley’s uncles.

Art delivered this information to the cops and that proved their only lead which led to the arrest and conviction of Steven Harris, James Riches and Richard Smith. Each were given five years but served only three.

The following are photographs of the home when Shirley arrived.

 

 

 

101 Knights – Update

Many of you (5,355 as of this morning) have tuned into my posting on the notorious motorcycle gang that plied Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast during the 60’s & 70’s.

The 101 Knights forced a number of other clubs; who thought they were worthy of recognition into oblivion, including the local branch of the Mafia; to become the predominate force to be reckoned with when it came to all things unofficial.

A number of those who have entered into conversation within my posting are either retired patch carrying members of the club, family members of those club members who have now passed on, or Joe Citizen who enjoyed the products the club had to offer.

While a couple of the retired members have offered clarity to the original photo in that it was dated 1974, one daughter of a deceased member (Dayna) has been kind enough to offer me a couple of images her dad passed along to her and now I am sharing them with you.

Dayna’s father Scott Stadnyk passed away last September and left a preverbal shrine of mementoes which Dayna now holds dear.

As the 101 Knights transitioned into ‘Satan’s Angels’ and then in the early 80’s to the local chapter of the Hells Angels, Scott took the helm as the Secretary / Treasurer; a position I believe he held until his passing.

I hope you enjoy the images.

 

 

 

 

The Mother of All Bombshells

Where is Margaret Williams?

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar” lets you in on all the dirty little secrets as to what happened to Margaret, but let me share with you some of the finer points.

On the morning of March 5, 1979, Margaret Williams was found missing from her home on Westdowne Road in Ladysmith. She was never to be seen again. The authorities were called and showed up in force. Nothing in her cottage was out of place. The only items missing were her purse and coat, yet her car remained in the driveway where it had been parked the previous day.

The RCMP wrote it up as a missing persons and sat on the file for 30 days believing she would turn up. I guess they had never read the popular theory regarding homicides, “the first 48 hrs are crucial”, OR it didn’t seem paramount to them because she is of native origin and the wife of the notorious Art Williams.

After 30 days an “inexperienced” constable was assigned the file (he was labelled as such by the chief inspector of the Williams case). The constable spoke with some of the immediate relatives and friends coming up with no conclusion. He paid Ottawa a visit to look through the recorded passport files to see if she had flown off to a warmer climate to join her husband (their words, not mine). The fellow dug into a few convenient corners and then concluded that she had simply decided to leave the area.

Here are a few of ‘my’ findings:

  • Six people I interviewed who had contact with Margaret on a regular basis found it suspicious that a 16 ft deep well on Dave Ridges property was filled in within the day of her disappearance.
  • Three people in contact with Margaret on a daily basis find it questionable that the black truck belonging to a very close male friend of Margaret’s was parked off to the side of her cottage late into the evening of the night she disappeared
  • Two people who know Margaret intimately stated that she had employed a member of the 101 Knights to log the back of her property on Westdowne on the promise that they would get paid when she received her money from the mill. It appears when she received her money from the mill she stiffed the fellow and after which he made public threats that he would kill her.
  • During the days following Margaret’s disappearance, the fellow who got stiffed was heard boasting in a local pub that he’d “knocked of some old lady”, no name mentioned.
  • Three people state Margaret financed a deal to import a sizable amount of cocaine with the fellow in the black truck and when the fellow told her the deal went sideways, she threatened to expose him to Canada Revenue.
  • Margaret had hidden $90,000 in a well out back of her cottage some months preceding her disappearance. According to an acquaintance close to Margaret, the money disappeared during the week preceding her disappearance.
  • It is said by a number of people who know that both Ray and Dave Ridge that they had a hate on for Margaret
  • During the evening preceding Margaret’s disappearance Ray Ridge instructed his wife to pay Margaret a visit at a specific time (to purchase her golf clubs) and leave at a specific time with no questions asked. She was further instructed how to get onto the property without conflict with the geese or dogs that roamed freely. It appears only a select few knew how to approach her home without issue.
  • It was routine that Terry Ferguson (Art’s adopted son) would visit Margaret on his way home from the evenings ‘Boys Club’ and play her organ while eating home-made cookies. On the evening preceding her disappearance he did just that but no one came to the door, yet he’s convinced he saw the silhouette of a hand behind the living room sheers.
  • It was general knowledge that the fellow with the black truck wanted to fill the vacuum that Art’s disappearance left and yet he lacked the money needed to get off the ground. He knew Margaret had large sums of money.
  • On Ray Ridge’s death bed he confessed to his girlfriend that he knew Margaret had been murdered.
  • When I approached the fellow with the black truck Nov. 16, 2007 about all that had been said and how it implicated him, he went quiet for a moment. He never denied being at her home the night she disappeared or refuted any of the comments but responded “I’m surprised the cops have not dug that well up yet. Fact is there is likely three sets of bones in it by now”.

All this information was new to the RCMP when I shared it with them Aug. 4, 2009 at the Victoria headquarters. They simply responded “Unless you bring us a smoking gun or the actual person who killed Margaret, we will not be pursuing the matter further”.

When asked if they would share anything within Margaret’s file, they responded; “The file is ongoing and active so nothing can be shared. We will receive information but not share any.”

So what do you the reader think?

 

 

The RCMP Were Not the Hunters as They Thought, but the Hunted

The book ’85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar’ explores the involvement of the actions of the RCMP’s primary informant E752 in their day to day investigation of Art Williams – MDA King of Ladysmith.

E752 made it known to me on June 8, 2007 that he had clearly turned the tables on the RCMP without their knowledge:

“The whole case was ill conceived yet well funded. I was manipulating them. I would disable the recorder they had wired to the inside of my leg if it was convenient for my needs and yet I was reliable when I saw it was necessary. I still have hours and hours of the transcripts that never seemed to make it into the cops arsenal. At times it was not suitable for the cops to know what Art and I were talking about, hence the continuity of evidence was not always there. As the infighting started they (RCMP) became more dangerous and that put him (Art) in harms way unintentionally. The fact is, the RCMP were the ones on trial. I left them with mitigating damage as best I could. They were trying to put a circle around him (Art) but it was I who got trapped taping the RCMP as much as I was taping Art.”

As the investigation proceeded, members of Art Williams inner circle were followed and photographed by the RCMP with those whom they made contact.

In like manner Art directed specific members of his crew to visit the RCMP headquarters in Duncan and Victoria on a regular basis and record all the license plate numbers in their parking lot; department and private alike after which he put his crew on notice to keep an eye out for particular unmarked vehicles and to report their whereabouts from day to day.

Both Art and Dale Elliott kept radio receivers in the homes and vehicles each with six crystals turned to every BC law enforcement agency on the Island and Lower Mainland; municipal and provincial alike. Nothing escaped his scrutiny.

The ‘Hunters were indeed the Hunted’.

This image is part of the RCMP collection showing Ray Ridge (Art’s muscle) speaking with Art’s lawyer Sid Simons outside the Duncan courthouse.

 

Margaret’s Dig

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

In the second to last posting I shared with you how Margaret Williams met her demise and how the RCMP swept aside my plea for assistance in bringing closure to her murder. Since then a number of you have asked what my personal position is in relation to “should her remains be dug up” or “should she be left in peace”.

Allow me to answer as follows:

When the RCMP responded the way they did, I paid the owner of the property on which Margaret’s remains are located a visit and negotiated the right to enter onto their land and excavate the well on the promise that I would return the land to its former state or better. When I left the property I had permission to proceed.

I straightaway hired Professor Brenda Clark of the UVic Forensic Anthropology Dept. She in turn was going to provide four of her graduates to carry out the excavation. They were not going to use an excavator as the RCMP would normally do, but remove the soil inch by inch and sieve each bucket to capture even the smallest of evidence.

DNA didn’t exist back when the murder took place so it is my gut feeling there will be chewing gum, cigarette butts or soiled clothing belonging to the guilty party tossed into the well with no thought of it leading to a conviction. There was also reportedly three separate sets of bones in the well and it was my wish not to cross contaminate the evidence one with the other.

I had put together a budget that I was going to finance it myself to support the workers and all the equipment and supplies they would need for however long it took to complete the excavation of the 16 ft. well (which by the way is about six feet in diameter).

To insure the work and collection of evidence flowed in accordance with legal requirements, Chief Inspector Dave Staples (retired), who oversaw the entire investigation into Art and his operation, volunteered to make himself present each and every day to record and log their findings. He in turn engaged the former superintendent of Victoria’s E-Division Scotty Gardner to join him. Together they made up a formidable team that in my opinion were beyond challenge.

To top the team off, Brenda Clark engaged the Forensic Lab from Simon Fraser University to examine and report on the findings once they were exhumed in a manner which would compliment a conviction. There is no better facility on the west coast.

So that no one would get their knickers in a knot, Staples met with Randy Wilson, then Chief Superintendent of Vancouver Island RCMP Headquarters in Victoria. Randy referred Staples to Ray Carfenton, Staff Sergeant of GIS. Staples was again referred to two other members before he was finally told; “if you proceed and uncover evidence, having simply touched or moved the evidence will be considered ‘tampering with the evidence’ and charges will be laid against you and your crew”.

Now I won’t begin to suggest that the RCMP attempted in any way to hamper my (our) efforts but by some strange coincidence, the following day I received a email from the owners of the land in question, retracting their offer to enter onto the land and complete the work.

So now you have the whole story.

 

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

Book Presentation & Slide Show

Come and enjoy this once-only free presentation and slide show highlighting the life and antics of Art Williams; MDA King of Ladysmith.

For a full hour you will hear how Art morphed from the guy next door to Canada’s Most Wanted, as he evaded the authorities net. His real-life drama will likely never be repeated on the Island, as it could have easily been the catalyst for the TV Series ‘Breaking Bad’.

There will be ample seating and plenty of parking.

So set aside 7pm, June 16th at the Frank Jameson Community Center as a evening not to miss.

 

 

Did Art Williams of Ladysmith Fame Die in His Plane Crash

Book “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

The greatest weight of the RCMP’s story that Art died in his plane after crashing into the waters off Vancouver hinges on their testimony that they recovered his front wheel from the waters off Point Grey. They stated the wheel strut was twisted and clearly torn from the aircraft.

When I asked June Harrison (owner of the firm that sold Art the aircraft and maintained it for him) if this were true, she responded as follows: “I saw the wheel that the RCMP had recovered and it was not bent nor torn. There were no bent screws in the holes as though it was torn away from the carriage. There was absolutely no physical evidence of damage or rust for that matter.”

Not wishing to leave the matter there, I pursued any reasonable theory as to why there would be a Cessna wheel show up in that vicinity at that time and I gained the following information from Art’s friend, Happy Laughin: “The day after Art disappeared I went over to his place to collect some of my tools before they disappeared. While I was there Frank Warder came over and I asked what he was doing. ‘I’ve come to get my wheel and strut’, he stated. Art had bent the strut on his plane by a hard landing and Frank had loaned him a spare. Art had his strut straightened but had not taken the time to put it back on.”

So what is your conclusion; are you with the RCMP that he died in the crash or are you one of the many believers that; “he’s enjoying his senior years somewhere warm?

 

 

Art Williams the Humanitarian

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

Little is spoken about the humanitarian side of Art Williams.

It has been said that the young child of Art’s friend had a medical issue that required the child to be connected to a life saving machine in the child’s home. Art received a panic call that the machine had broken down and the manufacturer was unable to get the repair parts to his friend within a reasonable period. Art dropped what he was doing, went to his friends home and took the machine apart. Found the broken part and machined the necessary new piece up on his lathe; installed it within an hour and likely saved the child’s life.

On another occasion; late into the evening the septic tank that served an elderly lady who lived nearby caved in causing her home to be flooded with raw sewage. Art again dropped what he was doing and dug the old wooden tank up. Working through the night he rebuilt the structure with his own materials and asked for neither recognition or compensation.

According to many I interviewed, Art would give you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it. He had no time for freeloaders, but if a man or woman were willing to apply themselves he was more than willing to help them succeed in any way necessary.

 

 

 

Was Art Williams a Thief

Book: “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

In 1963 Art was elected the President of The Canadian Archery Association. Art seemed to take the position seriously. He resurrected the associations defunct magazine while setting himself up as the ‘Editor-in-Chief’; contributing a steady stream of articles.

However, in a matter of months, rumours surfaced that suggested if Williams had his hand in the association, sooner or later trouble would follow. An Auditor assigned to monitor the Associations financial records reported that a large sum of money’s within the Associations accounts could not be accounted for.

On the morning of Monday, April 17, 1967, the executive of the Canadian Archery Association, along with one representative from each of the provincial associations, met with four members of the board of the advisory counsel for the Federal Fitness and Amateur Sports Directorate.

These were the people who administered federal funding to those involved in national sports, and they took their day-to-day direction from the same government that would become a proverbial thorn in Art Williams’ side. In early April, the advisory counsel had been given notice that all financial support for national events sponsored by the Canadian Archery Association would cease until a meeting had been held by all members of the Canadian Archery Association, less one. Arthur Williams had not been invited.

While Art had strong support within the Association, the need for funding overruled their appreciation for the efforts of their elected leader. Art was asked to leave.

Art’s nephew Allen Dashwood remembers quite clearly when his uncle was delivering milk in Edmonton: “He would give butter and milk to those who appeared to be in need and never ask for payment. He would just make restitution to the company out of his pocket at the end of the day.”

According to others who knew him, he would not hesitate to take from a government that so foolishly squandered tax dollars, but, equally, he was not the type of man to steal from his peers. “Not entirely true,” says Williams’ close friend Ralph Harris. “He stole the lumber he used to build a large building out back of his property, but even so I don’t think he would steal from the archery association.”

Well now you can make your own mind up. Was he a modern day Robin Hood, or just one more thief in the woodpile?

The attached image shows Art seated on the right in a meeting with the Canadian Archery Executive.

 

 

 

Art Was a Choir Boy – Part 2

“85 Grams: – Art Williams – Drug Czar”

It’s been said before; ‘the Crown’s primary witness E752 was a far greater risk to society than Art or all of his crew combined.

While the RCMP continued to use the evidence E752 gathered, E752 plied his trade of importing and trafficking Cocaine, Thai Sticks, Pot, Guns and any other form of contraband he chose, with immunity, throughout the Pacific Northwest.

One particular event that occurred in court during Ray Ridge’s final trial highlights just how bad a character E752 really was. Let me have E752 tell you what happened in his own words:

“I was more afraid of Art than anyone in my entire life. I felt something was coming down in the courtroom and I fully expected to be taken out at the Bail Hearing, so I was packing two weapons. Sid Simons (defense attorney) came at me while I was on the witness stand and asked, ‘Are you presently standing here in court with a restricted firearm.’ I gave the Crown Council an eye, who immediately perceived a problem and asked the judge if he could have a moment with his witness. Three of us went into a back room where I was asked by my RCMP handler Chester Kary if; ‘I can honestly say I was not packing a firearm.’ I said, ‘Yes’. In reality I was actually packing two firearms. We ended up hiding them amongst the largest books in the library and went back into court. The defense attorney’s question was repeated to which I replied, ‘Your honour as God is my witness I am not packing a firearm.'”

The book “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar” is riddled with moments like these which until now have never before surfaced for you the consumer to appreciate. While Art Williams was many things, he did hold a level of integrity that regretfully any form of authority had difficulty acknowledging.

In this image E752 is on the right.

 

 

The Man Next Door

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

So what kind of fellow was Art Williams when you scraped aside all the media attention?

The Crown’s primary informant E752 had the most admiration for Art and some of the things he said were:

  • Art was brilliant. He would read the Fisher Scientific Catalogue like I would read Sears
  • Art showed me how to make 82% Cocaine Hydro Chloride
  • Art was my mentor. I was learning from him, taking notes.
  • I was deceived at a young age by those who were using me and now I am ashamed for the part I played in setting Art up.
  • The story about the MDA is a small part of the big picture. Art did far more good than bad. He was a war hero, a scientist, a man who was just trying to make a living before his time. I ended up coining the phrase ‘wizard’ for him.

Lou Brown; Art’s do-anything type of guy recalls Art as follows:

  • I heard Art was hiring, so I went to see him. He asked me what I could do and I said ‘anything’. Art said; “Can you build a 12ft ladder”. I replied sure and went off and built two of them not thinking he would buy even one. He paid me $100 each.
  • Art had told me that things were getting hot around here and that someone was going to get shot and that I should take off. There were a couple of vindictive cops, vigilante types. Art would feel bad if someone took a bullet for him.
  • I remember Art telling me once how the cops approached him for input on a fellow who was killed by arrows. Art asked the cop “how many arrows in him”, ‘12′ was the reply. “I’d only take one, so I didn’t do it.”
  • Another time Art told a cop “I’d kill ya dead but they would probably hang me like I killed a real man.” Art never spoke in direct statements but rather as conjecture otherwise it could have been taken as a threat.

Well I hope you enjoyed this bit of insight into one of Canada’s most wanted men.

The image is of Art at Victoria Flying Services speaking to one of the mechanics.

 

 

Uncle Art

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

Having interviewed dozens of people from both sides of the law who knew Art Williams; The MDA King of Ladysmith; either as a relative, a friend, a partner in crime or as a judicial body commissioned to bring him down; the overriding opinion of the vast majority is that he was a likable man.

From all my interviews the following excerpt from one of Art’s nephews touched me the most. I have purposely withheld his name as he and his family have suffered enough over the years through harassment leveled by both those who felt Art owed them something, to those members of the law who believed any member of Art’s family had to be tainted with the same brush.

This young man’s reflection is worth a read:

“Ladysmith was a small town where everyone worked at the Mill. To see my uncle not employed there only made him stand out amongst his peers. How he made enough money to cover his expenses, neither my parents nor I ever really knew. He never seemed to be lacking for anything. He had his Archery Business and he had his plane, which I got to ride in on a few occasions.

As for his talents as a pilot, they were pretty impressive. He didn’t need an airport to set down. If he saw an open field or just a level stretch of land, he would put his Cessna down on a dime, just for the thrill of proving he could do it or because no one said he couldn’t. He didn’t always have to have a reason for what he did. Sometimes just because it was a challenge, was reason enough.

As for the illicit side of his life, it came to our attention first as rumors, hearsay, somewhat unbelievable stuff that just didn’t seem to fit into what we knew of him. It may be fair to say that we went about our lives a wee bit in denial. We knew him as a man who would not shy away from controversy, for he had strong views on politics and bureaucracy.

He never drank alcohol, but was a convicted tea totter. While he confessed to having done LSD once, taking drugs were not his mandate. He was very cerebral, well read and more than apt to hold his own in any conversation that came within his earshot.

It was impossible to not see the building they called the ‘Lab’ as such, as it looked just like any other building on his property. Nothing particularly fancy, just a basis barn or workshop type structure. It was never a hub of activity and we were never told to stay away from it. As I said, there were always people hanging around and Uncle Art would introduce them as being employed in one aspect of his Mushroom business or another. When the news started surfacing, it just didn’t fit into what we knew.

It was no secret that uncle Art had a vivid imagination and oft times it ran away with itself. For the family it was next to impossible to separate fact from fiction, but for me it really didn’t matter, he was just fascinating to be around.

I felt sorry for any kid who didn’t have an uncle Art. I felt they were totally missing out. As a teenager, I saw him as larger than life. Even though he was a small man in stature, his size never held him back. If he felt led to strip the hid off a man twice his size, he went at it with a vengeance and more often than not, that individual limped away from the scene emotionally crippled.”

While it is not the responsibility as an author / journalist to fabricate material in an attempt to twist your opinion on an event or individual, I believe personal comments such as this help paint an alternate image of a man considered at one time to be ‘Canada’s Most Wanted’.

The image below is of Art in eastern Canada March of 1934 at the age of nine.

 

 

Art Williams Security 101

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

Every time the authorities entered Dale Elliott’s or Art Williams property they did so knowing they were at risk of detection because of the number of tips they received on the two places suggesting they were either booby-trapped or secured by trip wires or both.

In the end the reality of bobby-traps proved to be a fabric of someone’s overly active imagination, but as for the trip wires; I will let Art’s ‘do-anything guy Lou Brown’ fill you in:

“Trip lines were strung with magnets on the end so that if the magnets were pulled loose, a light went on in the house or lab.

The lines out behind Art’s property were a pain in the butt as deer, bear or other large predators would trip them forcing us to scramble not knowing for sure if there was an issue worthy of concern.

Art also had cameras set up at random locations and wired back to the house and lab.”

In one instance a Forestry crew were checking out a creek a few hundred yards west of Art’s property because of a blockage from beaver activity, when suddenly they were surrounded by a group of angry bikers threatening them if they didn’t make themselves scarce. The crew weren’t aware of Art and his antics at that time, so they had no knowledge of localized security systems but came away thinking they must have stepped on some sort of trip wire.

The image below will give you an idea of how Art’s land and buildings are laid out.

 

 

 

Lets Get the Word Out

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

If you are enjoying these postings, can I twist your arm to copy and past the web address www.85gramsartwilliams.com onto your Facebook page or email circulation so that your friends and associates might tune in as well.

While the site is well attended, it has a long ways to go until it is clearly well received.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Daryl Ashby

 

 

 

 

Man of Many Faces

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

Through much of the investigation the RCMP were stymied by Art Williams and his crews ability to evade their every watchful eye when in fact they were simply transparent and in plain view.

As it turned out Art’s wife, Margaret was a master of disguises; ever changing the features of those needing to vanish into the crowd, just to keep the authorities off their game.

Lou Brown; Art’s do-anything guy explains:

“Margaret was the disguise person. She could make you up to look like anything. I had been made up to look like a Mexican one time so that I could pick something up in Nanaimo. Only thing is I decided to have a coffee and never gave thought to what would happen to my mustache if it got wet.”

Ruth Loomis, mother of Art’s mycology chemist, has another story:

“There was this time an acquaintance of Art’s was trying to get his paintings recognized within a particular gallery, but the owner considered him unproven and therefore unworthy of a prime location within the gallery.

Art dressed up as an old man by applying plastic cheeks, a long grey wig and a moustache, then proceeded to hobble into the establishment, all bent over with the support of a cane.

He went up to the paintings and started admiring them until the shop owner came over. Then he went into this charade about him being an art critic and having a client who would pay good money for some of the pieces.

I was sitting in the place at the time, not far from the  performance and nobody, myself included, recognized him.”

So is the presiding belief that Art is a ‘wizard’ and ‘outrageously brilliant’ a myth or is he just one more common criminal. You decide.

This image is of Art in Belize with Don Bohun’s girlfriend Sue Oakley.

 

 

 

 

It’s Showtime (well almost)

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

Only 6 days left (June 16) until the free slide presentation at 7pm in Ladysmith’s Frank Emerson Community Center.

Don’t miss out as there will be twice as many slides as are in the book with personal insights not between the books pages.

At the end of the presentation I will provide you with a surprise ‘Reveal’ that will catch you all off guard.

Hope to see you there

Daryl Ashby – Author

 

 

Saints & Sinners

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

Much has been said about the behaviour of Art and his Crew on this site but little has been posted on the RCMP during the Williams investigation. There is little doubt that the officer on the street back in the 70’s maintained a far higher moral code than they do today, but they still gave ample cause for the creation of the McDonald Royal Commission which was assigned to look into their “Illegal and criminal behaviour”.

With the outcome of the Commission looming over their heads, the same informant E752 who undermined Art’s operation offered the following bouquet:

“Of all the RCMP I encountered, Bob Hawkes was the only one who I remember fondly. He was a good guy with good intentions. When I was first sucked into this case, he took me aside and told me to get the hell out of undercover life, take my wife and get out of Dodge, so to speak.

Unfortunately, I didn’t avail myself of his wisdom and proceeded in my usual badder than the guy they wanted to catch approach. I was an unmanageable commodity.”

In contrast Sid Simons, the defence lawyer for Ray Ridge, (one of Art’s closest confidants), had this to say:

“I honestly felt that Cpl. Chester Kary (handler for E752) had stepped over the line so many times that his vision of impropriety had become blurred. To my way of thinking, he was a man who identified with E752 and in some hideous way wanted to be him.

To prove my point, I demanded that he open his shirt as he came under cross-examination in the witness box so the judge and jury could see the gold-plated razor blade that hung around his neck. This symbol of the underworld was his substitute for a Saint Christopher medallion and demonstrated how his relationship with the informant had grown beyond mere supervision as a cop.

With no way to retreat, he unbuttoned his shirt, but only after my insistence. As expected, it had the effect I believed it would on those who mattered most.”

Now if you were a member of the jury, how would this reveal affect your decision towards the defendant?

 

 

“85 Grams” Reaches a Broad Audience

Some might suggest my writing style is going to the dogs, but I would prefer to think, I have a diverse audience with the books I generate.

(photo courtesy of Nate Smith)

 

 

 

“85 Grams” Couldn’t Buy This Type of Promotion

Vance Smith wrote:

“Just finished 85 Grams – couldn’t put it down.
Fascinating and shocking what goes on in our backyard. The amazing research and quotes make you feel like you were there. A deep look into the underworld and what the RCMP were doing to fight it. Unbelievable at times. must read for sure.
This would make a great movie!”

 

 

Seeing is Believing

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

Art Williams didn’t simply spend the money he borrowed from the government or that which he earned from illicit means, to create MDA, he applied a large amount towards scientific research and the development of symbiotic food sources which would help mankind as a whole.

Lou Brown, ‘Art’s do-anything man’ speaks about Art’s $70,000 Zeiss Electron Microscope:

“When Art purchased the Zeiss microscope he sent Kristine and me off to the Karl Weiss factory in Germany for Kristine to learn how to operate it and for me to take a course how to maintain it.

It was a 3 week course and at that time the microscope was the first in Canada. Art use to find all kinds of things with it. He was studying a slice off a tree and discovered a value in the tree which would permit water to go up the tree but not drain back down.”

In contrast as the final raid on Art’s Westdowne Rd property was climaxing, the cops found a number of the MDA gel caps which Art had purchased off the informant E752 sitting under the optics of the microscope. Clearly Art was looking for the means by which the caps were marked for identification by the cops. He knew purchasing the caps from E752 was a set up, but he had to find out how the RCMP carried out their half of the sting.

Cpl. Chester Kary was the handler of E752 and therefore the one who engineered the sting using the gel caps. He explains the process they used:

“Our chemist, Richard Bergman, came up with a mixture of ASA (Aspirin) and caffeine in ordinary ethanol. When this was sprayed on an empty shell and allowed to dry, it could only be detected when viewed under an ultraviolet light.”

I hope you enjoyed this tidbit of insight.

The image below was of Art’s microscope taken at the time of the raid and showing the gel caps sitting under the optics.

 

 

 

Tomorrow is the Big Day

Finally that day we have all been waiting for (no really).

Tomorrow June 16th at 7pm Art will provide the “FREE” slide presentation on his (Art Williams – Drug Czar’s) life and antics.

This is not an event you will want to miss (really; I’m being serious here). Make sure your bring out all your Facebook friends, plus your mother-in-law, second cousins, milkman (if such a person still exists) and dog groomer. They will love you for it (serious again).


Because Art expects so many to turn out and see what became of him, he has moved the event from the lower meeting room in the Frank Jamison Community Center to the Gymnasium. (Seats 100 vs 40).


See you all very soon and don’t forget to say hi.


I’m so excited (just like you) I have to cross my legs while I’m writing this.
d

 

 

By Any Means Possible

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

When it comes to putting cuffs on ‘Canada’s Most Wanted’, the cops will use just about every trick in the book to succeed.

Lou Brown has a short story about what Art had to deal with on a regular basis:

“Every now and then there would be pretty girls show up at Art’s place asking for drugs. Art knew exactly why there were there and would ask them ‘what have you been busted for?’

The cops were arresting them for possession or the likes and then letting them go if they would try and entrap Art.”

So what is the moral of this story?

The next time a pretty girl comes to your door, stop and ask yourself; “What I have done wrong recently?”.

The image is Art’s home on Westdowne Rd in the 60’s

 

 

“Oh What A Night”

(Released 1963 by Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons)

If you missed last nights free slide presentation in Ladysmith, stop fretting; there will be a repeat performance July 3rd, at 6:30 pm in the Nanaimo North Library.

The turnout last night was well beyond my expectations. Every chair that the Frank Jamison Community Center had was in use and there still remained a few standing at the back of the gymnasium.

A special thanks needs to go out to Rob Johnson, Vic-Pres. of the Ladysmith Historical Society. Single handily he arranged for the facilities last night and I am so glad he did. It would have been a disaster if it was held where I had first planned. He also volunteered to MC the evening and anyone who was there learned quickly why he is referred to as Mr. Ladysmith.

A big thanks also goes out to Mariena of Take 5 Magazine for videoing the event for posterity (“Take 5 YouTube News” is creating a video documentary on Art Williams). Frieda of Salamander books and her right hand lady were on hand to facilitate the book sales. They were prepared well in advance of the 7pm start time and it was a good thing as the line up before equalled the line up after the event. A tribute to my wife Wendy who oversaw all things to insure the evening was seamless, plus my eldest daughter who rode her custom Harley from Victoria just to put out all the chairs and man the multi-media equipment.

Last but not least, the Frank Jamison Community Center and their staff warrant a sincere thanks for the use of their facilities long after their normal closing hours.

Unexpected, we had special guests in the crowd. There was Margaree, wife of Art’s right hand man Dale Elliott, Happy Laughin, one of Art’s closest friends going back to the day when Art first arrived in Ladysmith. Barry Dashwood, Art’s nephew and John Lane, the officer who placed the cuffs on Art and read him his rights during the fateful raid of Aug. 16, 1977. Seeing John was a special treat for me as he and I were neighbours 60 years ago and played together unaware of what our futures held. Who would predict we would meet again with a common interest.

There were so many in the audience that I have come to know through Art’s Facebook page that I couldn’t begin to acknowledge them here. There were even a couple of mercy friends (Those who come knowing the event is going to be a flop and whan to insure there is at least two people in the seats). Regretfully I didn’t have much time to acknowledge the effort they made on their weekly date night.

In closing I do want to thank everyone who came (and seemed to enjoy the evening) for without you the evening would have been an empty attempt to share the excitement I have for Ladysmith’s most notorious character.

Please check out the Take 5 YouTube at “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQIvYkHw3iI”. This is a living document so you will want to stay tuned as more interviews and material are added over the months to come.

Remember; July 3 @ 6:30 pm in the Nanaimo North Library is the next presentation. Make sure you bring all your relatives and friends and maybe your postman or MLA.

The image is of Ralph Harris (the man who picked up where Art left off) and his wife Cathy competing with a couple of Art’s bows in an indoor range.

 

 

 

Last Chance

Free Evening With all Things Art Williams – King of MDA

The Ladysmith Slide Presentation is now a recent memory having been a resounding success with standing room only.

Per chance you missed it, your last opportunity to enjoy a free evening of all thing related to Art Williams and his road to becoming one of Canada’s Most Wanted will be the evening of July 3rd.

The Nanaimo North Library has sponsored their large meeting room with comfy lounge type chairs (limited number) for the slide presentation. If it is a repeat of Ladysmith, we will have a number of Art’s associates in attendance to share their memories as well.

Do all your friends and business associates a favour and make certain they are also aware of this free event.

So mark your calendar right now before you forget. July 3rd, 6:30 pm, Nanaimo North Library on Hammond Bay Rd.

See you soon

Daryl

 

 

 

 

Margaret Who?

’85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar’

Other than being the wife of Art Williams – King of MDA; who really was Margaret Williams?

Born Margaret Katherine McDonald, Dec. 17, 1923 to parents of Native origin she led a quiet life waitressing in a small café not far from her home until she met Arthur James Williams, 12 months and 7 days her senior. The two were married Aug. 19, 1949.

Not long after their marriage Margaret was diagnosed with TB, an issue which saw her hospitalized for the first three years of their marriage and leaving her short three ribs. Shortly after her release the couple moved out west to the small town of Ladysmith British Columbia where Art took up work constructing housing for the Elk Falls Mill while she remained home and operated a small a tourist related collectables business of her own making.

According to Art’s sister Gladys; “Margaret came across as a quiet person, but you never quite knew what she was thinking. She was not loud, nor was  she forthcoming.” Easy by nature, she flowed seamlessly along with whatever notion her husband wanted to pursue.

His first venture was the design and manufacture of the world renowned Williams’ Long Bow to which Margaret applied her artful talent of painting, lacquering and stenciling the details of the bow on the finished product. She also hand-made the bow strings from Ban-lon material. When Art started manufacturing a hybrid arrow, Margaret again stepped in to add detail and colour. Not wishing to leave her involvement there, she took up the bow and competed on a nation-wide level, breaking many of the established records.

As that business failed, Art turned his attention to a renter they had in the second half of their duplex home. In Art’s opinion much of his professional problems stemmed somehow from his relationship with Margaret but in reality, her only known shortcoming was her inability to satisfy his overactive libido.

“Margaret was visibly upset when Art left her,” recalls Art’s sister Gladys.

Art found himself in and out of court on a regular basis, but even though the two were separated, Margaret could always be found in the back row of the courthouse gallery quietly supporting her husband.

When Art took up a large scale production and distribution of the synthetic drug MDA, she carried on with her only life just yards away from his lab, as though nothing had changed. She would never sell him out no matter how disappointed she was in their relationship.

On Nov. 30, 1977 when Art’s plane reportedly crashed in the waters off Vancouver BC, she refused to accept the possibility he had simply used the ruse to escape to a friendlier climate. In the weeks that followed she commandeered Ruth Loomis to drive with her to Desert Hot Springs, California to speak with Ruth’s ex-husband about a money issue. Ruth reports; “She cried and lamented about Art all the way there and all the way back”.

According to Terry Ferguson, Art’s girlfriends son; “Shortly after Art’s disappearance, Margaret started wearing Art plaid work shirt and heavy construction boots. She even started walking with a firm step like Art. It was as though she felt a need to assume her husbands role in life”.

According to a number of those I interviewed, Margaret financed a transaction with a long-time friend of both hers and Arts to import a large shipment of Cocaine from South America. When the friend told her the shipment was intercepted and she had lost her investment, she threatened to expose his activities to the authorities. Within a few short days she disappeared, never to be seen again.

Whatever the truth may be about Margaret’s demise, there has never been a full investigation completed by someone skilled in such work, hence there has never been closure for her family and friends.

 

 

 

Did the RCMP Kill Art & Margaret Williams?

One of the followers of this page has suggested a theory that members of the RCMP liquidated Art Williams because they knew taking him down legally was a failing proposition; strangely enough, this reader was not the only one to hold such a belief.

Shortly after the Fed’s closed the case against Art, Cpl. Chester Kary; the RCMP handler of informant E752 and two of his buddies found their careers thwarted by a fellow officer who spun the disappearance of Art and Margaret into an internal investigation.

According to Dave Staples; the lead investigator into the Art Williams case, “The grounds for such an inquiry came from the desk of Cpl. Maurice Fitzgerald, the same individual who was assigned to investigate the disappearance of Margaret. In his mind there was overwhelming motive to suggest Kary, E752 and Bob Hawkes had conspired to kill both Art and Margaret.”

As time past, word came down from Gordon McDougall; the man who sat as the commanding officer in the Victoria Division to ‘forget it and never bring it up again’.

While too late to pay a part in the internal investigation, E752 has gone on record as saying, “One week prior to Art crashing, I took a wax imprint of his plane’s key. You can’t kill a guy and call it an accident. On the day he crashed I was in Quebec, yet I could have stopped the whole thing in its tracks but I didn’t. Now I have to take that to my grave.” When I asked E752 who directed him to make the imprint of the key, he refused to comment.

Image of Ladysmith presentation provided by Take 5 Magazine.

 

 

 

Morphed Before Your Eyes

’85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar’

What would cause the man next door to morph from your average, everyday, go-to-work, type of guy into one of Canada’s most wanted Drug Lord’s, with no apparent motivation.

The answer is not necessarily simple, yet it might be summed up in a single sentence: ‘It was a slow, gradual transition that only became apparent when he reached middle age’. Then you might ask; is it the outward evidence of one man’s middle-aged crisis?

Art Williams was not a man who craved money or fame, but preferred to live in seclusion, drive his old Ford pickup, dress like your average nerd today and flash what appeared to be a roll of large bills only to irritate the authorities who so desperately wanted to bring him to his knees.

The transition started in his youth as he grew up within a somewhat dysfunctional family environment. His old man preferred to give a good beating rather than take the time to explain the physical consequences of a child’s behaviour during their formative years.

Witnessing the wages of World War II never helped. The absolute carnage of human flesh safely orchestrated by those residing in bomb-proof bunkers or granite walled mansions would have twisted the physic of any man unless he himself had a Hitler mind-set.

Then came his real life environment as an adult where a large portion of the wages he earned in an 8 – 5 job were were methodically siphoned off by the big hand of the Local, Provincial and then the Federal Government, leaving so much less for him to take home and support his and his wife’s lifestyle.

Art was self taught in so many ways and quickly learned that Federal Taxes were implemented as part of the ‘War Measures Act’ to finance the struggle that he had just endured in Europe. To his way of thinking such a form of taxation should have been abolished once the war was over.

He was so convicted in this belief that he never paid Income Tax from the first day he took employment in Canada. He would pay his property tax as he had no desire to lose his property but he did so under protest and only during the final half hour of the last day they were due; in the form of coins, feeling if the government employee refused to accept his  payment, then his commitment to make payment had been legally fulfilled.

It was this act of defiance that seemed to tweak his makeup for the last time. Having gotten wind of his anti-authoritarian behaviour, Revenue Canada decided to pay him a visit and demanded to review his books pertaining to his Archery business. Art showed them a pile of ash in the middle of his driveway and said ‘Their they are. Have at em.”

Rather than argue, they chose an arbitrary number of $60,000 plus thousand in back taxes owed by Art and told him he had so many days to pay up. In reality, even the highest level of government should think twice about welding a strong arm against a man already bent on destruction; at that point Art went full-on combat with anyone and anything representing authority.

The production of MDA with the use of government grant money, was just one more jab in the Federal gut he could come up with.

Image is Art William’s 1973 passport.

 

 

 

Art Williams – The Conspiracy Theory

All of us who have read ’85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar’ or followed the actual headlines of the day, most came away thinking the disappearance of Art Williams Nov. 30, 1977 was the end of the story. Then comes along all those who contrive conspiracies out of what appears to be thin air. This is not to say there may not be an element of truth to them, but if they are true, they are so deeply embedded within our system I challenge anyone to prove them as factual.

One such theory comes from the Crown’s primary informant E752 in the Williams case; and you would think he should know what may have gone on behind closed doors.

For one who survived the epicentre of all that happened E752 states the following: “The story of Art Williams is merely the prologue for the real story, which in my opinion, involved a world of diplomats, elected officials, global politics and crime that reached far beyond the foundation of Art’s world. Even today, politicians, cops and the entire government are being bought for cash on Monday and traded for favours on Tuesday.”

A similar theory came from the lips of Ralph Harris (the man who took up and far surpassed where Art left off). In his own words; “I was charged 13 times (with importing and trafficking) and acquitted 13 times. There were people well up the political food chain who were benefiting from what I did”.

Ralph didn’t deal in ‘pounds’ but rather ‘tons’ of illegal drugs at any given time. If you thirst for more detail into his past, Goggle ‘Western Wind’ (101 bales or 2 1/2 tons of cocaine worth $330 million) and the ‘Baku’, two of his ships involved in seizure. There is no accounting for other ventures that evaded detection. On both occasions; even though the authorities caught Ralph and his crew red-handed, all involved evaded conviction.

According to my research most fingers in the Western Wind case are being pointed at Richard Barszczewski, the RCMP’s Chief Inspector of Drug Enforcement in 2001.

According to RCMP Pat Convey, now retired; whom I interviewed in the Williams case; “We had a good international bust with the Western Wind case. It would have been the largest cocaine bust in the history of the area and financed by the Hell’s Angels, but when Barszczewski got involved all the wheels fell off.” Even though the US DEA were initially involved, no one was arrested and no one was charged.

When Barszczewski was asked to explain himself, his only answer was “I can’t comment at this time as it’s an ongoing case.” That was 17 years ago and he is yet to comment.

Image is of Pat Convey.

 

.

 

The Truth Behind

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

85 Grams is a vivid portrayal of one man’s collision with the law, an undoctored portrait of that man’s inner turmoil, the devils that drove his day-to-day activities and the chaos that fed the lives of the 1970s hip generation that eagerly consumed his creation. 85 Grams delves into the roots of one man’s psyche such that you will be able to see first hand not only the brilliance behind the creator, but also the forces that boxed him into a corner from which there was no escape.

You will read how one man’s world turns from solitude to heartache, to revenge and ultimately a twisted victory.

 

 

 

The Journey

The Writing of ’85 Grams’

In the writing of ’85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar’ I never felt secure in the fact that I would be permitted to complete the manuscript or for that matter publish it. It was reported in 1984 that one of the high-profile lawyers associated with the case was about to publish his own version of the subject, but as strange as most things are as related to Art Williams, that rumour fell deathly quiet with no hint of explanation.

As I started my quest I interviewed the upper echelons of the RCMP and in each case they warned me; “Watch your back and do not approach those who worked alongside Art Williams as they have more reason not to see their lives in print than you have to write or publish it.”

With this in mind, I started my investigation in all the benign places, climbing the ladder slowly while wondering with each encounter whether I would pluck a sensitive chord of someone who preferred to remain in the shadows. They in turn would beckon one or more tattoo covered individuals to visit the front door of my home with instructions to halt my work by whatever means necessary.

Surprisingly, as I reached out to Dale Elliott (the highest rung on the Art Williams ladder); his opening statement was; “It’s about time the story was told.” On the promise I would never repeat some things told to me in confidence, Dale along with everyone else, opened up. Trust overcame caution with only two associates out of the dozens involved refusing me access into the catechisms of their covert lives.

Herein lies the tale of one man’s empire, surrounded by trusted patriots, clothes in mystery and forgotten in a myriad of unanswered questions.

This image is of the Mt. Brenton cabin they stayed in while working in the underground lab 200 ft. deeper into the forest.

 

 

 

Is Art a Chip Off the Old Block?

Art Williams – The Wizard of Ladysmith

I’m a strong believer that who we become as an adult is a product of how we are coached and treated by our parents during our youth. Art’s younger sister Gladys had this to say about Art’s upbringing:

“Dad was an honest, hardworking man, but he was not compassionate and as a result he expected a lot from everyone else. This was especially true of Art, the sole male child.

Dad had a bad temper and wouldn’t hesitate to give us a good smack if he thought it was necessary. Often times he would use his razor strap on Art, but he never caused him bodily harm.

I’m not sure why my dad was such a mean man; my grandfather on my dad’s side was ok.

Dad acknowledged how he treated us and found justification in the fact that he had been gassed while serving his country in the First World War.”

This image is of Art’s father taken in uniform during the First World War.

 

 

 

First Taste of The Law

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

Art Williams younger sister Gladys recalls the first issue her brother had with the law:

“Art was about fifteen at the time. We had been living at our grandmothers since our mother died and Art had left to find work a short ways north of where we lived. In the end he didn’t like the work so he quit and hitchhiked to Gloucester just outside London.

Art had no money and he was hungry so he broke into a Green-grocers and stole a couple of cookies, following which he fell asleep at the back of the store. When the owner arrived in the morning Art was still sound asleep, so he turned him over to the cops.

The cops marched him down to the county courthouse, but because of his age and it being his first offence, he was not charged but assigned to a probation officer. When the officer brought him home to dad, dad’s first remarks were; ‘Give him to me and I will straighten him out.’

The officer sensed it would be a mistake to leave him in dad’s care, so he removed Art from the house and made him a ward of the courts at which point he was placed in a juvenile reform school. There he stayed until he joined the war effort at eighteen.”

Don’t forget Art’s final slide presentation tonight (Tues 3rd) at 6:30 pm in the Nanaimo North Library on Hammond Bay Rd. Photo is courtesy of Take 5 Magazine.

 

 

I Will Never Forgive My Father

‘Art Williams – Wizard of Ladysmith’

Art thought the world of his mother only to have him and his siblings loose her solely to the neglect of their father. Art’s younger sister Gladys tells the story:

“Our mom, Sophia Cotter was her maiden name, passed away in 1936 not long after we returned to Britain following a stint of my father trying his hand at farming in New Brunswick.

My mom was a kind and loving woman, but she had developed a non-malignant tumour which required attention. My dad was so headstrong he felt that it would heal on its own, so he refused to take her to the hospital.

By the time he came to his senses, the tumour was bleeding so badly the doctor ordered her to the hospital for immediate surgery. She died shortly thereafter. My dad was always confident that he knew what was right. He was such a stubborn man.

With dad having to make ends meet and no one to care for us during the day, we moved in with our dad’s mother in Somerset. Granddad had died a year or so earlier so the situation worked well for both families.”

The image is of Art and his family as they leave Britain for New Brunswick (Gladys is front right).

 

 

Truth or Fiction ‘Part 2’

“85 Grams: Art Williams – King of MDA”

In a letter Art sent home from the European front, he reflected on a battle which spoke of pushing behind enemy lines. We know from other correspondence, his bravado was often fictionalized and regretfully if I am to rely solely on his military records there would appear to be no measure of truth to this report as well:

“The attack was a diversionary measure, intended to offset enemy troops and the Siegfried guns. Throughout the night of Nov. 21, 1944 our battalion fought its way to the front of the escarpment.

As the morning of the 22nd dawned it was bitterly cold. Mixed snow and rain had been falling for hours and the entire area was an ocean of mud. The only vehicles able to function were the weasels which were used to carry out the wounded and ferry up ammunition.

Our Company was ‘S’ Company, our objective – – to secure the west tip of Hoven Woods and give covering fire while ‘C’ company fought its way into the village from the west.

By 11am the offensive mounted by ‘C’ company had bogged down due to the loss of their command. Harris (who took over the company after Avia Brown) was ordered to cross the two hundred yards of open mud and assume Command of ‘C’ Company.

Command of ‘S’ Company automatically fell to me.”

Art enlisted as a driver / mechanic. Here he is with one of the weasels.

 

 

The Williams’ Bow – Its Origin

“85 Grams – Art Williams: The Wizard of Ladysmith”

Having spent the closing years of World War II on the front lines of Europe, Art has witnessed enough carnage of mankind to last him a lifetime.

Not long after he and his wife Margaret had settled in Edmonton, Williams formulated an idea for an archery business. Archery had once again become a fashionable sport. Hunting with bows and arrows had gained recognition as a limited-harvest method for game management in many American and Canadian jurisdictions.

While residing in Edmonton, both Art and Margaret were exposed to the sport and discovered they had a natural talent for sending the arrow in the proper direction.

During the early 1950s Williams spoke openly about his fear of an impending nuclear holocaust. He believed that if humanity was going to survive, wars would have to be fought with bows and arrows. In his mind it was the only “honest weapon of the common man.”

On May 25, 1960, he registered Williams Archery Limited with the B.C. Register of Companies. Incorporation papers listed Arthur James Williams and Margaret Katherine Williams as directors in addition to Grace Bettie and Stephen Oliver Franks, both of Ladysmith. Williams’ lawyer, Edmond F.N. Robinson of Ladysmith, B.C., was a minor shareholder.

Within a very short period of time long standing distance records were being broken with the Williams’ Bow. It was evident the Williams’ Bow was going to push all its competitors aside and take over the sport as the equipment of choice.

Image is of Art with one of his new bows.

 

 

Truth and Consequences

“85 Grams: An Independent Thinker”

There is no denying Art Williams had trouble fitting into a structured society. If the rules of society demanded that he relinquish his freedom or were restrictive in any way, he simply ignored the ruling and established his own moral code without a second thought.

A short excerpt from “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar” goes like this:

“Arthur James Williams had a disdain for authority of any kind, whether it was the overzealous individual on the street corner telling him how to live his life or the man who introduces himself with a badge and a gun.

He was indifferent to both and followed his own rules. He had a similar contempt for the federal government when it came dipping into his pockets for a portion of his hard-earned money in the form of taxes. Williams simply refused to comply. To him, taxes were a by-product of the 1914 War Measures Act, designed solely to cover the extraordinary financial burden imposed by the First World War. Since the day he set foot on Canadian soil to the day he vanished, he had never filed the mandatory federal income tax form, and with the war now a distant memory, he certainly wasn’t going to being.

Art felt so strongly about the issue of taxation that he published a paper, “Declaration  of Economic Warfare on the Government of Canada,” a copy of which he fired off to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. This act alone placed him squarely in the center of the government crosshairs.

This image is of Art (on the right) in 1942 at the age of 19.

 

 

Legal Council & Friend

“85 Grams – Art Williams: Antagonist

By the time Art Williams archery business faced foreclosure, Art knew he was going to need someone to fight on his behalf, but not just anyone; the individual had to hold the same posture when it came to the interpretation of the law. He found such a man in a recent graduate to the Bar; Don Bohun.

Don explains his motive to become a lawyer: “I never had any intention to go into law. There was this girl that I wanted to impress, and her father was a lawyer so I enrolled just to prove to her that I could do it. I was living life to the fullest at the time, so I never gave much thought to a lasting relationship. I actually believed I wouldn’t live beyond my twenty-fifth birthday.” Regardless of his motives, his relationship with the girl ended early, while the career continued.

Don took a different approach to court protocol.

As Shirley Ferguson (Art’s girlfriend at the time of his disappearance) recalls: “Don was defending a young fellow who had been caught with a small amount of hash, and when given an opportunity to examine the evidence, Don popped the sample into his mouth and swallowed it without batting an eye. Because the entire case was hinged on a small amount of contraband, the prosecution had no choice but to withdraw their charges.”

Don’s recollection is slightly different but the gist remains consistent: “So I took a bite and I must say the cops had very nice tasting hash. The prosecutor and cop stood there stunned as I swallowed the whole thing but they said nothing at the time.”

In the image Don is on the left with his father.

 

Ever the Rebel

“85 Grams: Art Williams – The Man With a Cause”

Whenever an opportunity arose where Art could pit himself against the system he wasted no time in making it as grand a spectacle as it could be.

Stanley Cross, a friend and also an informant against Art recalled one of the first court appearances Art had:

“On the day of the proceedings, Art drove to the Ladysmith courthouse with an entourage of hippies in tow. He as wearing an orange hard hat and as he walked into the courtroom he  grabbed the lone chair at the back of the room and sat down.

As the judge entered the courtroom, everyone was asked to rise, but Art stayed seated. The bailiff demanded that he stand. Art immediately approached the bench and asked the judge if he believed that all men were equal, to which the judge responded he did. To this Art stated; ‘Your Honour, I see that you are seated, therefore I choose also to sit.’

The judge then asked Art to remove his hard hat to which Art replied, ‘Nope, it’s part of my regalia, so much like yourself, I would prefer to keep in on.’ By then the courtroom was in an uproar.”

The following image is of Art in the early 70’s.

 

 

 

A Passive Bystander or Not

Margaret the Quiet Wife

Art Williams’ wife Margaret was always seen as a quiet wife who kept to the shadows of Art’s more aggressive nature; but this was not always the case.

Art’s girlfriend Shirley Ferguson explains:

“Margaret could get quite feisty if she had a mind to. On one occasion she was minding her nephew Archie, who was twelve years old at the time, and he kept coming over to where we lived, and for no reason at all he would knock my youngest son to the ground. I knew the kid was troubled, so I asked her nicely if she would keep the kid on a shorter leash, to which she just flew into a rage. A few choice words went back and forth, then she up and smacked me in the face, so I returned the favour; following which Margaret went to the local courthouse and charged me with assault. The matter went to court but when the judge asked who started it fiasco and she admitted it, he threw the matter out. But it didn’t stop there. She pleaded with the Judge that I had accosted her verbally. The judge wouldn’t hear anything more on the matter.”

Art and Margaret are on the left in the photo below.

 

 

Art Williams – The Samaritan

’85 Grams – The Ladysmith Wizard’

I may have already mentioned Art and his caring approach to other peoples needs but I came across my notes from Shirley Ferguson’s interview (Art’s girlfriend just before he disappeared) and felt her take on his philanthropic nature made for better reading.

“Not long after we got together, my eldest son, Terry, suffered kidney failure, and I honestly thought we were going to lose him. Art stood by me through the whole affair. He did a lot of good for those he barely knew.

I remember a time when one of Happy Laffin’s kids was hooked up to a medical device and a key component of the contraption broke. The hospital couldn’t find a replacement part, and without the device the youngster would have died. Art came home and machined up a replacement piece that worked perfectly.

There was another time when an elderly couple next door were having problems with their septic tank. Art took his backhoe over there, dug the stinky thing up and rebuilt it for them in a weekend.

He never did any of it for want of money. In his opinion it was just the right thing to do.”

 

 

Art Wouldn’t Harm a Flea

“Art Williams: 85 Grams”

There is no question Art Williams broke the law and there is no question he associated with those who would resort to violence if things did not go their way; but no matter who you spoke with out of those who knew him on a personal level, they will all agree; Art never condoned violence of any kind.

Art’s adopted son Terry Ferguson goes on record as saying: “Fact is, Art would catch flies in a bottle and release them outdoors.

There was this time something was troubling Daniel (Terry’s brother). I don’t remember what brought it on, but he was crying so badly and Art just couldn’t stand it any longer, so he gave him heck. That just made it all the worse, so Dan ran off to his bedroom and cried all the louder.

Art’s office was located behind the house and opposite Daniel’s bedroom window. He was so disturbed by what he did that he came over and tapped on Dan’s window and mouthed the words ‘I’m sorry I yelled at you’.”

Terry also recalls: “Art took me up behind the property and back into the bush where he had four deer which were so accustomed to him that they would eat out of his hand. If anyone else came near they would high tail it off into the woods, but not with Art.

He would tell me and my brother to just stand still and then he would walk right up to them and pet them.”

While these are vivid memories of Terry’s and generally supported by others I have interviewed; the following Hunting Deer Tag in Art’s name would suggest he wasn’t beyond taking a life if he deemed it necessary.

 

 

Something Different

“85 Grams: Interactive Interview”

If you would like to spend an evening doing something completely different; consider tuning into my interview on the book “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”.

It will be hosted by Dave Scott on Spaced Out Radio, this Monday Aug. 6th starting at 9pm and running until 11:30pm (well past my bedtime).

You can tune in via:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpacedOutRadio. You can use #SpacedOutRadio during the show to participate in the live chat.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davescottor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpacedOutRadioShow

Speaker: https:www.speaker.com/user/spaced-out-radio

We will look forward to your input and/or challenging questions.

Daryl

 

 

 

Legal Counsel & Friend ‘Part 2’

’85 Grams: Cast of Thousands’

Art Williams friend and legal confident is many things, but conventional lawyer is not one of them. If you tried to fit him into a pigeon hole normally associated with his judicial peers, I can assure you it will turn into a full time occupation.

Don’s former girlfriend explains:

“I remember when I first met Don, it took two weeks before I found out he was a lawyer. He was a really nice guy but he certainly didn’t look like a lawyer with his long hair and the way he caroused.

He told me one day that he had to go to court and I asked him what he was being charged with. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I have to defend someone.’ I thought he was joking around.”

One of his judicial peers added:

“Members of the system saw Bohun as a disrespectful bottom feeder. He rode to the courthouse on his motorcycle with his formal attire rolled up in a satchel on the back. His courtroom clothes were well work and looked like a hand-me-down to begin with, but by the time he unrolled them, they were anything but presentable. Here were all his colleagues walking in meticulously dressed, having carried their pressed robes in suit bags, and Bohun saunters in looking more like a street urchin in drag.

He just didn’t consider all the pomp and formality a principal function of law.”

The image is of Don’s graduating class. I believe he is the second from the left in the bottom row.

 

 

 

 

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”: a riveting true crime novel exposing an individual who defied society and every form of authority within it. In doing so he morphed from the intellect next door to one of Canada’s most wanted drug warlords, producing MDA; the predecessor to todays ecstasy and then trafficking his product from California to Alaska and east to Manitoba. It took the authorities close to a decade to locate his underground lab. As they thought the his days of taunting them were over, he vanished.

Don’t miss out on this extraordinary story. Ask your local bookstore for a copy today or purchase one via Chapters.ca, Amazon.com. It is also available as an E-book if you prefer.

You can let me know how you enjoyed the read at ‘www.85gramsartwilliams.com’ or on Facebook at ‘Daryl Ashby: Author’.

Daryl Ashby

 

 

 

 

Tune In Anyway

“Interview Art Williams”

If you happen to be one of those who can’t continue with life without hearing the full interview between myself and Dave Scott of DTalk Radio, sit back and relax as the following link will provide you with that window of opportunity (I can hear Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” chorus in the background again).

Here ya go. Don’t miss it: Https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVr0HkGDhEs

Did you get that?

ps: The first half hour or so has nothing to do with Art Williams, but hang in there as it will come.

 

 

The RCMP of Yesteryear

’85 Grams: Art Williams – Elusive’

Many of those I have spoken with questioned why the RCMP appeared to be unable to gain traction in the Art Williams case. With the understanding we have today of their resources, that question may appear reasonable, but when Art Williams was headlines, things were considerably different.

Staff Sgt. Dave Staples (lead investigator in the Art Williams case) paints a pretty accurate picture of their day to day operating environment:

“Our team was made up of a handful of men and women crowded into a 700 sq. ft. room at the rear of a single story building located at 999 Fort St. at the corner of Fort and Vancouver St in Victoria. This was the Island’s sole outreach for drug enforcement and organized crime.

As many as sixteen uniformed officers shared a couple of phones, insufficient desks and a single stapler. I was given the mandate to head up the drug squad, but I had no resources or for that matter, no budget. My boss would grumble when I needed to take an officer out of the office because there simply wasn’t any money to cover travel expenses.

I knew Hank Matheson, a few doors down from us on Fort Street and he headed up a separate task force with provincial funding. Everything worked itself out after I approached him and he agreed we would work together.

Vancouver Island had become one of the few openings through which an ocean of narcotics trickled into the Pacific Northwest.

My task force was made up of six officers from the RCMP, two from Saanich police force, two from Victoria and a single member from Esquimalt and also Oak Bay. In order to protect the individuals identity and enable them to be more effective in the field, they came and went from the office in jeans and T-shirts.”

The image is of Dave Staples.

 

 

 

Brushed by the Law

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Canada’s Most Wanted”

Art Williams’ first encounter with the law came in early 1968 when one of the RCMP liaisons in India tracked a hardcover book to a Ladysmith address. While that in itself was not unusual, the liaison told the Victoria RCMP that the pages of the book had been glued together and the interior of the book had been hollowed out to create a compartment large enough to hide a quantity of high-grade hash.

When the package arrived at the Ladysmith address, the Victoria RCMP laid in wait until Williams marched in and cleaned out his post office box. The RCMP followed him to his residence on Westdowne Rd and waited to confirm that his home was the final destination for the package. Certainty that he was not simply the courier for another was paramount in building a case.

Art was born with a sixth sense and did everything he could to insure he never silenced his instincts.

When he arrived home he had a  premonition something wasn’t quite right so he left the neatly wrapped package on the dash of his truck figuring he would retrieve it in the morning if his instincts proved wrong. As it turned out, he didn’t have to wait long. Within minutes of arriving home, two members of the RCMP drug squad knocked on his door and demanded to know where the drugs were.

“What drugs?” Art responded.

“The package you just picked up at the post office”, was the reply.

“I left it on the dash of my truck. I have no idea what is in it, for all I know it could be full of bullshit”, Art replied.

At that point the cops knew they didn’t have a case but felt they might as well pursue it to the end just the same.

When Art appeared before the Nanaimo County Court it took only a matter of a minutes for the judge to resolve that the case was built on circumstantial evidence and threw the matter out.

From that day forward Art Williams had been flagged by the RCMP as a person of interest. They were leery as to how far his hatred for them would go and considered him potentially dangerous.

Photo is of Art in 1973

 

 

Art Williams Right-hand Man

“85 Grams: Art Williams – King of MDA”

Dale Stuart Elliott was 34 years of age when he first met Art Williams. He was fair-haired, blue-eyed and tipped the scales at roughly 160 lbs. He was street-wise for the streets were where his greater education stemmed. The army taught him most of what he needed to know when it came to handling himself in adverse situations. All else was self-taught whether it be trigonometry and associated mathematical formulas or how to service or repair all things mechanical.

“I started my certification as an aircraft power mechanic” states Dale; “but unfortunately the instructor got too busy to work with me so that fell by the wayside. I dropped out of school well before grade twelve, but I wasn’t beyond learning.” None of this knowledge was wasted as he move up along-side Art Williams to become his most trusted and loyal partner in Art’s less social endeavours.

Dale brought his connections with the notorious biker gang ‘101 Knights’ into the equation for the gang would serve as the primary source of distribution for the MDA that Art and he produced.

In any social environment Dale could hold his own with most any conversation and not resort to vulgarity, yet when he was amongst his peers he could punctuate every sentence with an adequate number of well chosen epithets.

The ladies liked what they saw in Dale Elliott so having his choice of the famine hang-a-rounds was never in question. This was a facet which followed him into his later years.

Dale recalls; “Art was up to no good long before I met him. We hit it off right from the start and although there never appeared to be a pecking order, I would refer to him as ‘Hauptmann’, meaning ‘Captain’ in German.

Elliott showed respect for Williams’ high level of intelligence and considered him the most imaginative, unpredictable member of the organization’s upper tier. “We worked together, played together and watched each other’s back”, Dale recalls with fondness.

In 1973 Dale took the fall for Art and the others as the RCMP closed in on the organizations production and trafficking of MDA. He would never consider ratting out his peers for the sake of his own comfort. While that case was eventually thrown out a year later, the same cannot be said in 1979 when he began his stint of nine years as a guest in the “Iron Hotel” as his son Steve refers to the prison system. Dale chose to do the full nine years rather than avail himself of early release for has he put it; “I decided to serve my full term rather than take early release and have to report to a probation officer on a regular basis.”

Dale passed away in Sept four years back and while he may have interpreted the law in his own way while dancing to his own drummer, I can honestly say I have fond memories of my time with him.

Image is of Dale while serving his nine years at Elbow Lake Penitentiary.

 

 

 

Art Williams The Plaintiff

“85 Grams: Art Williams The Aggressor”

When Art was arrested for the last time in 1977, he himself had a number of suits registered within the court system against the RCMP, various corporate and private parties for damages.

At the time of his arrest, a local radio station and it’s subsidiary news outlets reported that Art and Dale had been manufacturing heroin and other narcotics. They had made no effort to make any kind of distinction between MDA and the hard core drugs mentioned. Art was incensed. He immediately filed law suits for defamation, liable and slander.

He had an ongoing lawsuit against his South Wellington neighbour for having removed a beaver dam on the neighbour’s property, thus altering the ecological nature of Art’s land. This in turn destroyed his ‘morchella esculenta’ (morels) site where he was trying to find a symbiotic relationship between a particular mushroom and the stinging nettles which grew prolifically in that area.

He was also working through a suit against both the RCMP and Loomis Courier Services. He discovered Loomis was dropping by the RCMP headquarters with Art’s shipments of glassware (Erlenmeyer Flasks) so that the sergeant in charge could scratch three small ‘x’ marks on the neck of the flasks for future identification. According to Art’s claim, as he used the sterile flasks to grow mushroom spawn, the experiments continually failed because the flasks were breaking at the neck where they were marked for identification.

As a purest in many ways, he reportedly filed a suit against the Monies Mushroom people for knowingly using horse manure high in mercury which he claimed was poisoning the public.

He filed a suit against Revenue Canada for seizing all of Dale Elliott’s tools, equipment and personal property in his home and shop and selling the same by auction to offset taxes they say were owing, while Dale was incarcerated and unable to exercise his rights.

He had a case going against a forestry concern for the ‘unlawful logging’ of his backyard and lastly he had the declaration of economic warfare he had filed directly with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

Dale Elliott stated: “I enjoyed being present when Art was at the examination for discovery of these suits because he would make the lives of these people miserable for the time they had to be in that little room with him. He would demean them in every way possible and use the opportunity to vent his bitterness towards the established biases.”

Each and every one of these suits died a natural death with the his disappearance.

The image is of Art pouring over the files related to his case.

 

 

A Man With a Cause

“85 Grams: Dale Elliott”

Art Williams’ right-hand-man was no stranger to the interior of a courthouse, but there were times when his attendance was voluntary rather than court ordered. Dale tells of one such occasion:

“There was an interesting case before the Duncan courts (can’t remember what it was at the moment) that I thought my kids would benefit from witnessing. I always felt an education in the ways and means of the judicial system was beneficial to all people, children included.

So I pulled the kids out of school and sat them down in Judge Louise Herd’s Duncan courtroom expecting the session to get underway and my kids become somewhat wiser in the process. All five kids were lined up on the bench beside me; but when the judge came into the room she immediately tabled the hearing until all the kids were removed from her court room.

Out we went; but troubled by her decision I drove to Victoria where I walked into the Attorney General’s office and inquired just how the law governing children in a courtroom was written. He showed me the chapter and verse then explained that no child can be excluded from a courtroom, regardless of age unless the case dealt with rape or murder.

The next day we were back in Judge Herd’s courtroom again to pick up on where the case left off. Herd announced without missing a beat that all children under the age of 16 were to be removed from her courtroom or their guardian would be hauled off to the holding cells for contempt. I refused to remove my kids so they hauled me off. Gordon Loomis was with me at the time so he took charge of the kids and left with them without further ado.

The walls between the courtroom and the cells were porous so I could tell when the day was winding down and as expected in came the bailiff who summoned my presence before Her Honour.

Herd turned to me and asked me how I would plead to which I told her I would not plead as her ruling was incorrect regarding my children. She asked where I got my information. I told her I paid the Attorney General a visit. That reply seemed to be enough for my case to be dismissed without further discussion.

The following day all five of my kids were sitting beside me as close to the front of the courtroom as physically possible and there we all sat until the case was completed.

Image is of Dale with credit to the Vancouver Sun.

 

 

 

Who is E752 ?

’85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar’

A trusted friend of E752 and the man who introduced him to Vancouver Island and all those who ran the underworld, shared with me some of his own experiences with the embedded informant.

“There was this time he and I were coming out of the Lantzville Pub and this other guy started walking towards him from the Gas Station next door. E752 turns and walks straight at the guy, pulls out this 9 mm from his hip that I didn’t know he had and smacks the guy over the side of the head, knocking him to the ground. He proceeds to stick the muzzle to the guys head while yelling for all the world to hear; ‘give me the money’.

There was another time when we both were at Angel Acres for the HA’s annual event, serving hot dogs. This big guy came up to him and said in a gruff voice ‘give me a hot dog’. E752 knew he wasn’t going to get paid so he ignored the guy. The guy considered himself a real tough guy so he got all the more boisterous. There were a number of club members and other fellows watching the whole thing play out, so E752 handed him an empty bun and then a wiener separately and as the guy was standing there wondering what was going on, E752 picked up the squeeze ketchup and mustard and began to empty them all over the front of the guy. Everyone broke up as the guy just stood in a daze.

One day E752 borrowed my boat and I never asked him what he wanted it for, but when he brought it back he handed me $300. I told him no way, but he said ‘I made lots of money off it and probably should pay you more’.

E752 borrowed my cube van one day and after he brought it back I was driving from Chemainus to Nanaimo when I noticed a cop car tailing me. I looked in the back and there was a satchel with about 50 lbs of hash in it. I panicked and drove straight to the place where E752 was living only to have the cop pull off at the intersection before his place. I deeked into an empty lot near his place and tossed the satchel into the center of a blackberry patch then went over to his house. I told him what he had done and all he said was ‘you should have kept it. I would never have known’.

The guy was straight up honest and fair with those he trusted but ruthless to those who didn’t play by the rules.”

This is E752 with his wife enjoying a warm day in his tropical homeland.

 

 

Art Williams vs Taxation

“85 Grams: Art Williams – The Antagonist”

Art did not believe in paying Federal or Provincial taxes. Ken Sutherland, a local member of the RCMP who knew Art well recalls:

“Periodically Federal or Provincial workers would have to go out to Williams’ place to collect taxes that were outstanding and because he was so loud and threatening, the workers would call us to escort them.

On one occasion the collectors turned to Williams and asked to look at his books. He replied; ‘Feel free, there they are,’ pointing to a pile of ash on the ground. For all the Feds knew he had maintained a set of books but had burned them in protest. In Williams’ mind, the pile of ashes said it all.

He wasn’t going to pay income tax and I don’t think he ever did.”

Image is of Art out front of his Westdowne Rd home.

 

 

We’ve Almost Made It

“85 Grams” is well on its way to becoming one of Canada’s best selling non-fiction crime stories for 2018 and it’s all because of the tremendous support you and your followers have provided.

If you were to recommend it to all you come in contact with as the ‘perfect stocking stuffer’ this Christmas, there is no doubt in my mind it will be #1.

Thank you so much for all your help

Daryl

 

 

 

Flying Below the Radar

“85 Grams – The Cast of Thousands”

One of those who managed to keep himself out of the limelight during the Art Williams investigation was a close friend of Art’s named ‘Ralph Harris’ (known to his close friends as ‘Cornflakes’).

Ralph was no stranger to those ingredients needed to generate a good buzz, in fact while Art was pumping out MDA like there was no tomorrow, Ralph was working through the night in his basement hydroponics lab to produce the best marijuana bud money can buy. Much of today’s hi-bred product is due to his research and marketing skills.

Having said that, Ralph could see an opportunity developing through the judicial fog and when Art eventually disappeared and Dale Elliott’s ocean borne operation came to a halt with his incarceration, Ralph dove in to fill the vacuum.

The authorities were stymied as to where the new product was coming from as it had a similar chemical signature to that of Art and Dale, but it had a twist all of its own.

As time past Ralph spread his wings to import cocaine, Mexican marijuana (where the local market was unable to meet the demand) and other contraband by the ship load. Check Google on the ships “Western Wind” and “Baku” and you will quickly see the breadth of this man’s endeavours.

At the close of his saga, Ralph had been charged a total of thirteen times and each case ended in acquittal. Calling him “The Teflon Man” may not have been inappropriate.

On one occasion we met for lunch at the Haida Way Restaurant near Chemainus. He was waiting in the furthest booth from the door (with his back to the wall), but before I could settle in he said “I want to talk to you” in a very dry, unemotional, demanding tone of voice.

Knowing Ralph also had a reputation for making people disappear, the hair on my arm stood so straight it would have been impossible for him not to see the affect he had on me. Ralph stood up out of the booth and loomed over me (which didn’t help my condition) and he said “follow me”. By now the hair on my arms is not just standing up, it was looking for every available exit, with or without me. Being somewhat dumbfounded I followed him (brains were never one of my strong points) into the men’s bathroom (I figured this might be a good thing because certain parts of my anatomy were about to get involuntarily liquid in a hurry).

Now you have to stop for a moment and picture this if you have never been there. The men’s bathroom in the Haida Way is about the size of a standard five foot bathtub. By the time he had entered and tuned to face me with his back to the far wall, I had barely enough room to pull the door closed behind me without scraping a layer of skin off my hind end.

There we were, his stern face inches from my perfect complexion (which was about to melt into a trembling mess of snot and tears) and he tells me a fellow (he gave me his name and address) from the US DEA had asked him to bring a ship load (he still owned the Baku which was moored in Steveston on the mainland) of cocaine from South America for them to leverage in whatever way they chose. He smelt something fishy and wanted someone (me) to know where he was and what he was doing per chance the whole deal turned sour. I wasn’t quite sure whether I was to feel relieved at that point or start looking for a new home and identity in Argentina (after all it worked for the Nazi’s).

Ralph and I had spoken a  number of times about writing his story but the conversation always ended with his acknowledgment that the majority of the characters that would be named in his story are still working the trade and such disclosure would not be good for his or his families health. With his recent passing that story will likely remain unwritten; which to me is a shame.

This is a more recent image of Ralph.

 

 

 

The Father Behind the Man

“85 Grams: Ralph Harris – Below the Radar”

While I have somewhat glorified the deeds of Art, Dale and now Ralph, it is only fair to say: it was not intended to be glorification but rather an acknowledgement for how their lives deserve a place in history.

From my last posting, many of you appear to know Ralph Harris either on a personal level, professional level or via heresy. Whatever the case there is no denying he was a talented man when it came to all things contraband, especially that which pushed the envelope of self-preservation. What you may not know is that he was a bon-a-fide family man and while this article may not be white-knuckle, herein lies the truth.

Ralph was raised on the Chemainus Indian Reserve even though his mother and father were not of native origin. His father had a mean streak and Ralph showing up at school with evidence of his father’s handiwork was not uncommon.

Ralph was an average student at best, but when it came to street smarts he was top of his class. With Chemainus being a small town, everyone knew everyone else and it wasn’t long before he slid up to Yvonne Dryer, a flaxen haired girl with a highly dysfunctional family.

The two tied the not in 1958 with the birth of their first child shortly thereafter. As Yvonne put it; “sex in a small town with nothing to do was like going to the movies”, but the news of a child on the way only pushed Ralph towards the proposal he had intended. While their first child passed away five days following his birth, they did yield two additional sons and one daughter.

Yvonne was troubled by Ralph’s extracurricular activities, so once the RCMP raids on their home became common place, she made an unannounced exit with the kids in tow while Ralph was pulling nightshift at the Crofton docks.

Ralph wrote letter after letter to Yvonne pleading for her return or at very least; a chance to see his children, but without knowing her new place of residence his only option was to ask her mother to pass them on. Her mother saw no value in Ralph so each letter was ceremoniously burned upon receipt. Ralph’s three children grew up without knowing their father, a fact that troubled Ralph until his final day.

Fast forward to Sept. 13, 1968. Ralph tied the knot a second time and this time to Cathy Schwabe; a confident, professional lady who loved the ‘bad boy’ and figured she could tame the beast into a livable level. That union produce two lovely young ladies, thirteen years apart and the eldest who has gone on record to say “he was not a dead-beat dad, but one who always provided”. The relationship was not without its trials as Ralph had issues with monogamy, which some of the ladies reading this posting have already attested, yet their friendship never waivered and it was in Cathy’s bed that Ralph said his final goodbyes Dec. 8th of last year.

Ralph only hid from his family that which would place their own health in jeopardy. They all new he had a Ecstasy lab in Nanaimo, that his grow-op was second to none and that he on occasion navigated his ship to south American waters to bring back more than a load of fish, yet even so he remained a very private man; one who placed trust only in those who earned it. I am one who feels so fortunate for without having gotten to know him or have him share so openly; my life would have gone on without knowing his unique place in history.

Attached is a image of Ralph (courtesy of his daughter Natasha) in his grow-op looking like a character out of Jurassic Park.

 

 

 

“BC Institute of Mycology”

85 Grams: Art Williams Feeding the World

Even though Art had attained only a high school education; his degree of intelligence allowed him to learn very quickly anything that would prick his interest

Upon the demise of his archery business he set his mind to developing a hybrid oyster mushroom; a valuable source of nutrients that anyone could grow since it needed mainly darkness and physical waste; two commodities readily available to the four corners of the earth.

Art mentioned to an acquaintance that he had perfected a way to grow the mushroom spoors on saturated newspaper tightly rolled into a cylinder; again a commodity readily available to the average household.

His zeal was such that telephone records show he conversed with mushroom experts as far a field as japan and the eastern United States. His close friend Happy Laffin recalls: “One day wen I was over at his place he got this call from the University of Holland and they were asking him how to grow magic mushrooms (psilocybe Cubensis) indoors because the market there was so high they were unable to meet the demand.

Even preceding the era of computers and internet; his abilities and knowledge were well known world wide.

This desire led him to apply and receive a $70,000 grant from the Federal Government some of which he would divert to the production of MDA.

 

 

Most Under-decorated Soldiers

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Consummate Soldier”

A comrade who fought beside Art in the trenches of Germany once said; “We were the most under-decorated soldiers of the Second World War, if for no other reason than we survived where the balance of our battalion didn’t.”

He went on to say; “Everyone in our battalion would snatch up liquor as they passed through the villages and countryside. As we settled into our fox-holes or trenches for the night, they would all get liquored up to the point where they would stand up to relieve themselves only to have a German sniper put a round through their head. Art and I never drank while on the front lines and that is why we survived and they didn’t.”

The embedded RCMP informant E752 said; “I never left my house without a 38 snub-nose or a 9 millimeter stuck in my waistband and sometimes both. Art was insistent that there was never to be a loaded gun in his house so when I would appear with one he would threaten that if I came into his house again with a loaded pistol he would shove it where the sun don’t shine. I sincerely believe he would do just that so I never went in again with one loaded.

One time I was at his place and he asked me for my 9 millimeter which I handed over. By the time I had sat down at his kitchen table he had it completely torn down, quicker than you can say Jack Robinson. He was far quicker than military fashion and he could put it back together with equal speed. Having said that; he had seen so much carnage in Europe that he hated guns and for that matter any form of violence.”

Photo is of Art (on right) with his buddy while making their way across the German countryside.

 

 

 

Witness Protection Means Little

“85 Grams: Embedded Informant E752”

Once the case against Art Williams, Dale Elliott and Ray Ridge either failed to materialize (in the case of Art) or achieved a conviction (other two); the crown’s primary informant E752 received $40,000 (the highest recorded payout of the day), a new identity and a free pass to wherever he wished to relocate.

But the ultimate bad boy didn’t take his winnings (which was estimated at $2.3 mill, thanks to the RCMP) and retire. Shortly following the Williams case he found himself in a Mexican prison serving time for stuffing a motorhome and catamaran sailboat with Mexican grass (the smoking type).

E752 plus a buddy and their two wives were charged as well, but the Mexican authorities felt the women were more in the wrong place at the wrong time and let them go. Not so with E752; he was looking at some serious time behind bars.

With three months incarceration under his belt he grew tired of Mexican hospitality and decided he would rather take his chances north of the border. Thanks to his wife a fresh set of cloths were delivered along with a fake beard, a hat and a cane. During the following weekly scheduled visiting hour, he dawned his disguise and boldly walked out as a bent over elderly man, along with all the other visitors.

He made straight for the US border and never stopped until he was certain no one was following him.

If you’d care to read the full story of his escape it was ghost-written by Michael Dorgan and entitled “Escape from Guadalajara”.

Image is of E752 (on right) with his buddy enjoying his new life.

 

 

 

Will The Real Art Williams Please Stand Up

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Vanishes”

Theories abound as to whether Art died in his plane crash Nov. 30, 1977 or whether it was all just an elaborate hoax which allowed him to flee the country.

In my search for truth I came across a man by the name of Dirk Yzenbrandt who knew Art through the Victoria Flying Club. He recounted the following story to me as though it happened yesterday.

“I was a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch in the 800-block Douglas Street of Victoria in 1983. I was on my lunch hour and walking north on Douglas when I recognized Art walking towards me.

I was within six feet of him and I went to acknowledge him, but as soon as he made eye contact with me he made an abrupt right turn into a little magazine store. I was so stunned at first by seeing him and then by how he  reacted, I kept walking.

After a few paces I figured ‘this was stupid’ so I turned around determined to confront him. Within a matter of seconds he came out of the store and made a bee-line in the opposite direction.

I reported my sighting to the cops, but to the best of my knowledge they did nothing.”

RCMP Constable Maurice Fitzgerald commented he was aware of the rumors, but “none of the sighting have been substantiated.”

Wanting to add some credence to this fellows tale I asked others who knew Dirk if he could be considered a reliable witness. In every case the answer came back; “He is a straight up guy who I don’t believe would lie.”

Photo of Art was taken a few months preceding his disappearance.

 

 

“What’s Next”

Some of you have enquired as to what I intend to write about next; well here goes:

A number of years back, while I was researching material for the Art Williams book, I interviewed Ralph Harris of Cedar. One interview led to a number of others and soon the dialogue navigated away from Art and towards what Ralph himself had been up to; which by the way was enough to raise the hair on the back of my neck.

As his trust in me grew, more and more about his activities seemed to come to the surface followed by his express desire to see his own story told before it was too late. It was mutually agreed that if such a project was to be explored, names of those still walking the streets would have to be withheld, unless that is the subject were benign.

Regretfully Ralph passed away in his sleep Dec. 5th of last year so his involvement or ability to see his life in print is now past. Having said that, there are a number of individuals (family included) who would like to see his legacy in print. It’s acknowledged by them that what will be written may not all be glorifying a man who led a righteous life, but none-the-less, it is who he was and a specific piece of our local history that deserves recording.

So here is where you come in as our faithful followers.

If you have any photographs or tales to tell about Ralph and his life (good or bad), please share them. If they are fitting I can guarantee you they will make it into a book should it materialize.

Note: If you feel you have something to share but would rather keep your name out of the limelight; just send me a Facebook “message” which will be private and I assure you will remain that way. If your personal history with Ralph is too lengthy to communicate via this means, drop me an e-mail at ‘darylashby@shaw.ca’ and we can meet somewhere over coffee.

So here we go.

What do you have to offer Ralph’s legacy?

Image (courtesy of Trish) is of Ralph on his Harley.

 

 

“Does An Era Ever End?”

85 Grams: The Eternal Dilemma

The men and women who worked so hard to see Arthur James Williams brought to justice enjoyed a bitter sweet victory.

What they uncovered came to be known as the largest MDA operation in the history of North America. Unlike other crime syndicates, once Elliott and Ridge were removed from the scene and Williams reported dead, there was no hierarchy left to carry on. The flow of MDA across North America all but dried up following Dale Elliott’s capture; that is until  late in 1978, when a source outside the Mounties’ reach started the kettles boiling once again.

The RCMP chemist has said; “The MDA produced by Williams had a specific signature in its chemical arrangement, different from that of Elliott’s. This new product has a strong resemblance to both.”

The RCMP were left scratching their heads raw as to who had the smarts and resources to pick up where Williams and Elliott left off?

To this day that individual, Ralph Ross Harris, has never been charged nor convicted for filling Art Williams’ and Dale Elliott’s vacancy.

Image is of Ralph in a contemplative mood.

 

 

Check Out Our Ad in Take 5 Magazine

“85 Grams: On The Road to Best Seller”

We decided to spend our kids inheritance on a couple of ads in hopes they aid those book stores who have honoured us by stocking “85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar” and “John Muir: West Coast Pioneer”.

We are not so foolish as to expect to recover the investment, but without taking the shot we know we will never reach those who otherwise would never hear about our work.

Please check the “Take 5” ad out at http://take5.ca/take5-magazine/ and please refer it to all your friends and followers.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes in the coming season

Daryl.

 

A Soldier Takes the Fall

“85 Grams: Dale Elliott’s Run From the Law Ends”

On April Fools Day 1980 Dale Elliott’s bid to evade the RCMP ended. He had been on the run since Aug. 16, 1977; living on his boat amongst the Gulf Island and the many lengthy inlets of the Mainland.

There was no boredom for Dale during that time as he continued to produce MDA with a lab he had built into the floorboards of his boat. At regular intervals he would dock at a government wharf and send a coded message to Ingrid his wife or one of his trusted allies to meet me at a given spot to transfer the finished product for distribution.

When he was captured he was barely recognizable with a full growth of facial hair. While he had in his possession a .44 magnum and a .38 special; he offered no resistance to the cops as they approached him at the Lions Marina in North Vancouver. As Dale put it: “There was no value in going out in a blaze. They got me fair and square. It was just part of the game and they won that particular hand.”

Speculation had reported a tip had come into the RCMP from a trusted friend which led the cops to his boat, but in reality it was a chance interception of a conversation between Ingrid and Dale over one of the many Duncan payphones where Dale was arranging a conjugal visit. The RCMP had been monitoring a number of the Duncan payphones regarding a completely different case when the officer reviewing the tapes that evening recognized Ingrid’s voice and then that of Dales. They just followed her to him.

Dale never did divulge the lab hidden beneath his floorboards for as he put it; “I never knew whether I would need again sometime in the future.”

Dale received a nine year term for which he decided to serve in full nine years rather than accept probation and early release. “I had no desire to be reporting to the cops on a regular basis or looking over my shoulder to see if someone was waiting for me to breach the terms of my probation, so I just did my stint and never complained.”

Image is of Dale at Elbow Lake Penitentiary.

 

 

Overnight Transformation

“85 Grams: Art Williams – End of an Era”

As Dale Elliott was led through the front gates of BC’s maximum-security prison in New Westminster, his full beard and mustache hid him from those who knew of his past, yet by morning every single hair was removed and cast onto the floor of his cell.

The authorities speculated Dale had pulled each hair out one by painful one until the old image returned. The media wasted no time in latching onto this idea making for yet another sensational headline.

“The truth of the matter is a lot less colourful”; according to Dale. “I had a construction razor blade hidden in the watch pocket of my jeans which the cops neglected to search. I had no further use for the disguise so I gave myself a dry shave during the night and then tossed the blade to the fellow across the isle from me.”

Maintaining a Low Profile

“85 Grams: Dale Elliott – Doing Time”

Out of all those involved with Art Williams and his production of MDA, Dale Elliott received the longest sentence. He shares his memory of those days:

“I made it my goal to maintain a low profile, serve my time and get out. Each room had a desk built in under the window so my cellmate and I could write letters with a view out over the pastoral Vancouver countryside. As a place to spend a few years, the quarters might seem confining, but to me they were no worse than what a freshman might encounter in a major university.

In time they moved me from Vancouver to William Head outside Victoria so I could be closer to my family. There were a couple of guys from the 101 Knights serving time when I arrived so I sort of looked out for them, but my stay didn’t last very long.

I got sucked into a deal with a staff member that went sour so I lost my good-boy status and was shipped to the medium security facility of Matsqui.  While there the warden wanted an area of the prison wired for sound and new light fixtures because the old ones kept encountering accidents with flying brooms and other objects. I had no electrical experience, but I told him I could do the work and the only cost would be materials. He was suspicious at first thinking I would use the freedom to engineer an escape, but eventually he realized I had no intention to cause him trouble. As it was, I got paid double time for weekends and holidays, making my wages a phenomenal sum of $1.00 per day.

I was there during the insane riot of June 1981 when half the place was torched to the ground. The place was designed to hold 312 inmates but when the number rose to 362, three hundred of them revolted. Most of the guards and prison personnel fled, but there were some who simply couldn’t make it to an exit. Others were trapped on the roof where a helicopter scooped them up just as the fire ate through the roof’s tar and gravel. A number of the population figured it was a good time to settle a few scores within the cell population and with those guards who remained. I more or less stayed out of the way. After the melee was over I and a few others who were considered nonthreatening were relegated to tents until we could be transferred to Elbow Lake where I finished off my term.

While I was towing the line in prison and without the ability to defend myself; the fed’s seized all my furniture, tools, Harley, guns and chattels of every kind in lieu of what they state I owed in income tax for money earned while selling the MDA. This was even before my appeals had run their course and the conviction had been overruled.

Strange how they can consider it illegal to produce drugs yet they still want to tax the income earned. The bailiff even tried to pry my wife’s wedding ring off her finger, after which they disconnected the water and power so my family had no heat or fuel to cook with.

By the time I had done my nine years and made it home, I had also lost my wife. Since the big money years were over, she decided to take up a relationship with one of our mutual friends.”

Image is of Dale courtesy of The Times Colonist:

 

 

“So What Did Happen?”

85 Grams: Art Williams – Vanished

What kept Art busy during his visit to Belize with lawyer/friend Don Bohun just three months prior to his disappearance.

According to Art’s girlfriend Shirley, prior to Art’s reported crash, she found a passport with his image on it but a different name. When she confronted Art with it he told her it was none of her business. According to Shirley Art stated purpose for the trip was he wanted to meet the mayor and enquire about business opportunities.

According to Pat Little, Art’s nephew: “I know there was an inquest after the crash and he was declared dead, but to this day I have never accepted that verdict. Arthur could easily have faked his death to live somewhere in seclusion.”

Art’s sister Gladys: “I often wonder what could have steered Art’s choice of lifestyle into such deep waters. Certainly it was not greed. Material things were not particularly important to him. He never lived like a person with great wealth. Had he channeled his intelligence into something more useful he could have done so much. He never spoke of the illegal stuff to us but I do recall on one occasion when he came to visit, that he spoke of how he would make his escape by faking an airplane accident.”

Stanley Cross recalls: “I got to listen to the control tower recording of Art panicking as he was supposedly going down. It was typical Art Williams theatrics. I’ve heard him a hundred times rant and throw a temper. There was no way that recording was sincere. It was all an act to throw the authorities off his true intent.”

According to his adopted son Danny; “Art never did anything without a purpose behind it.” As I was interviewing Danny for the story he brought out Art’s old metal file cabinet and in it were a number of undeveloped rolls of camera film. One series of photos were a panorama of the Belize industrial waterfront with a home in the last frame on the left of the series. The image below is Art enjoying a cold drink in the back yard of that home.

Does it spell out a level of comfort to you unusual for someone on a business trip or possibly a place he intended to revisit three months later?

 

 

Another Point of View

“85 Grams: Friends Speak Out”

John MacNaughton, the former publisher of the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle and a close friend of Art Williams says; “Alive? Oh sure he’s alive. He’s a tremendously intelligent man, one of the most intelligent I ever met.

He was a character with some unusual ideas. In the early days Art had a friend in Powell River who owed him money so he decided to go and collect it. But Art didn’t have the money to get to Powell River so he tried to borrow $10 from the bank. The bank manager turned him down.

Not to be stopped, Art cashed a ‘rubber’ cheque for $10 on Friday, went to Powell River and collected his money, then put the $10 into the bank account on Monday to cover the cheque.

He was a survivor.

Image is of Art speaking with the mechanic at Victoria Flying Services prior to his disappearance.

 

 

Cameras, Action, Roll-um

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Blockbuster Movie”

On the demise of Margaret Williams, the Williams property on Westdowne Rd was sold through public auction to a fellow by the name of Ken Heal, sight unseen for $155,000. He had dollar signs floating across his eyes; as for him the story of Art Williams deserved a full length feature film.

Once he had taken possession of the property he received numerous threatening calls warning him not to meddle in Williams’ life. The calls scared Heal’s wife off to points unknown, but they only fueled his enthusiasm.

Many of those who lived on Vancouver Island at the time will remember the large billboard erected on the side of the road announcing the property was the site of an upcoming Hollywood blockbuster.

Heal reported two men from Paramount Studios in California had paid the property a visit and were putting together the story for a feature-length movie, “The Mad Archer of Ladysmith”, staring Donald Sutherland as Art Williams. The producer, Bob Stabler was quoted; “Sutherland has indicated an interest in playing the extremely intelligent man who was trying to beat the capitalist system, a man who was bordering the lines of genius.”

“The script had been written”, according to Heal and “I had spent hours sitting on the front porch of Art’s old house with Ray Ridge, going over every detail of the preceding years. All we needed was the final go-ahead.”

Well that was close to 40 years ago now. The buildings have been torched as you know and no one to date has taken the time to call “Action”.

Image is of the porch Heal and Ridge sat on.

 

 

Why, How, Who ?

“85 Grams: Art Williams – ‘I won’t leave anything'”

As if the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Art Williams and that of his wife Margaret 18 months later was not enough; a myriad of questions still surround the arson associated with the razing of his large lab and Margaret’s home.

Speculation abounds as to who torched the buildings and why. How was a question not so hard to find an answer to as the Ladysmith Fire Chief, Bill Grouhel went on record as saying; “The house was burning in separate, unrelated places – the northwest and east ends of the building. There is every indication that a petroleum product was used because of the extremely black smoke.”

To this day, the police have absolutely no clue as to whether it was just a case of ‘Wilful damage’, but then again they continually seemed to be lacking in a great deal of insight surrounding the Williams case. The only success that they realized in the case came about by happenstance or sheer luck at literally tripping over the answers they were looking for.

The “Why” to the question of the arson was cleared up through Art’s own words; “If something should happen to me, I will never leave anything for the government to benefit from. I will burn it all to the ground before I leave them a penny.”

Well that sort of suggests why it was torched, but is it the entire answer; possibly not.

Art told Dale Elliott, Ray Ridge and others he worked with that if they should ever think of betraying him, he had kept a detailed journal of each and every activity for those who worked with him and he would insure they went down along with himself.

Another trusted friend of Art’s, Happy Laughin, told me; “I was working the evening prior to the burn and Ray Ridge approached me and whispered in my ear, ‘The Williams’ place is going up in flames tonight'”.

According to Ralph Harris, (a confident who managed to move about in Art’s world but beneath the judicial radar), “No one wanted to see that journal surface so Ray and I torched the place to insure it was never found. We tried to light up the duplex as well but for some reason the fire just wouldn’t take. I know there was money stuffed in the rafters of the barn but finding it was not going to be easy, hence it had to be sacrificed along with everything else.”

So now you also have the answer to “Who”.

And therein lies the answers you have all been looking for.

Image is of what remains of the large lab.

 

Up Close and Personal

“85 Grams: Art Williams – The Samaritan”

Often followers of this page will write in about their personal experiences with Art Williams or Dale Elliott or any one of the many characters involved within the story “85 Grams”. One guest in particular wrote something that I felt was worthy of repeating.

Vicky Cosnett-Power wrote:

“Awesome read. Both my husband and I grew up next door to Art.

My sisters and I were raised by a single mother and Art was always there to lend a hand putting up a power pole and other chores.

I remember him coming to let us know he had planted dynamite in his driveway (to thwart the RCMP from continually coming onto his property).

He was highly intelligent and a hard working man.

It was nice to read a well documented book about the life of a very interesting man.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone.”

Image is of Vicky and her husband

 

 

 

Up Close and Personal (part 2)

“85 Grams: Dale Elliott – The Man”

Another guest wrote something worthy of repeating.

Deanna Walts Bamford wrote:

“I downloaded the book on kindle and finished reading it a few hours ago.

It brought back memories of the stories Dale told me. I was only 16 when I first met him while he was at Elbow Lake. I traveled there with Ingrid (wife) and Steven (son) for a visit.

As Steven’s girlfriend I lived with them when Dale finally came back to the Island and I spent many hours in the shop/garage at his home in Cedar. There were many late nights over drinks and ‘others’ with Dale telling stories of his time with Art.

I enjoyed your book and couldn’t put it down until I had finished it. I messaged my daughter and told her about the book. I ordered a hardcover and will give it to her for Christmas.”

 

 

 

A Watchful Eye

“85 Grams: Art Williams – For Margaret’s Sake”

Whether Art Williams indeed crashed during the evening of Nov. 30, 1977 or in fact flew to some friendlier soil; the well being of his wife Margaret fell to those who loved her most.

Shirley Ferguson, Art’s girlfriend still had residence within the duplex that Art and she shared prior to his disappearance. She and Margaret never shared a harmonious relationship yet she would keep a watchful eye out her kitchen window towards Margaret’s cottage. Shirley’s boys would drop into Margaret’s more often than not to gain help with their homework or to play her organ and snack on freshly baked cookies.

Art’s sister Ruth was at Margaret’s side as much as physically possible, but she had a family of her own that demanded her attention. Ruth Loomis kept in touch, but she too had her own life with two beautiful daughters to care for. Ralph Harris was a constant companion most every evening, but according to his words; “Just as a friend”.

With Art’s departure every treasure hunter this side of nowhere snuck onto the property day and night to gleam whatever souvenirs they could find and they gave no regard for the sanctity of the woman who lived on her own how destitute their pilfering might left her.

While Margaret was able bodied, the majority of the heavy labour about the property and home fell onto the shoulders of her and Art’s long time friend Happy Laughin.

Happy was a unique friend in that he was always mindful of his position in Margaret’s life and would never do anything to damage the relationship he had with his own wife Donna.

He insured Margaret’s woodpile was well stocked with dry wood for her stove or repairs were made to the structure when necessary. Until Margaret’s disappearance 18 months later, he remained Margaret’s first responder if she was in need and for those who know him, his kindness has never been forgotten.

When Margaret’s life ended at the hands of those who no longer had use for her, Happy found over $56,000 hidden in her woodpile. A testament to his character, he turned it over to the RCMP and asked for no recognition in return.

Image is of Margaret not long after she moved to Ladysmith.

 

 

Another Point of View

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Dead or Alive

Many have weighted in on the current status of Art Williams, but none with more determination than those who pursued him.

Ken Sutherland, former chief of the Ladysmith RCMP detachment had known Williams since the early 1960’s:

“Not for a minute do I think he is dead. Knowing Art and having dealt with him for so many years, I’m sure he set it (plane crash) all up. He had a hell of a mind, but he also had a chip on his shoulder towards law or discipline. He barked a lot but rarely bit. What they found of the aircraft was nothing that couldn’t have been jettisoned. Nothing was integral to the structure of the plane.

Art was never ostentatious; his duplex was simple and the log cabin he housed Margaret in was equally plain. He didn’t own many possessions, besides his property and his airplanes, neither were owned outright. I can’t believe he was doing it for the money. Whatever he did, it was more to challenge his ingenuity.”

Image is of the Cessna that Art disappeared in after having landed on an isolated west coast beach.

 

 

Another Point of View – Part 2

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Dead or Alive”

Jerry Moloci was employed by the RCMP during the Williams case and holds conflicting opinions on the subject of his disappearance.

“If Art were still alive, he would be thumbing his nose at the authorities much like Hannibal Lector.

He had so much pent-up anger for authority that he would call us Gestapo every time we met, which I’m sure is a reflection of his continued hatred for the Nazis of the Second World War.

Had he applied all that energy to good means, he would have done very well in life. He was a brilliant man with an incredible amount of knowledge in most everything.”

When a member of the 101 Knights was poised the question about Art’s disappearance, he had very little constructive to offer.

“I really don’t care one way or the other. There is no love lost. Williams was nothing more than a little Englishman with a big mouth.”

 

All Men Are Not Alike – Part 2

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

It is often said ‘no two siblings are alike’. Nothing could be truer when it comes to Dale Elliott and his brother Carrie or Boots as he is referred to.

Neither are saints in the eyes of the law but that is where their similarities end.

Dale would never sell out a friend as evidenced when he accepted the nine year sentence without debate for his part in the Art Williams story, yet every time Boots had a brush with the law he latched onto any exit strategy no matter who suffers collateral damage.

Dale’s recalls:

“By mid 1973 Boots had been pushing me to give him a quantity of MDA so he could make a few extra bucks pushing it on the street, but I kept saying no as he is as smart as a stick when it comes to the street and pushing drugs without getting caught is not an easy task.

One day he was helping me move a trailer onto my Duncan property, after which I found 2,000 hits missing. Before the month was out he got busted with all 2,000 hits in his car. He called my dad and told him he was in the Victoria jail and that dad was not to tell me as he was trying to implicate others rather than face charges. In the end he pled a deal where he would lead the cops to my home in Duncan north. That led to the bust September 17th, a court case, the better part of a year in the iron hotel and over $20,000 in legal fees before I was acquitted of the charges.”

Art Williams close friend Happy Laughin recalls:

“Boots worked as a Longshoreman for the Crofton Mill and became well known around town as a ‘Torch for Hire’. It was said he would torch his own mothers home if there was a buck in it for him.

He was also known to have ‘very light fingers’ when it came to pilfering anything of value that was easy pickings. But it was not always a matter of taking what was ‘easy pickings’, as I recall one time he wandered onto a freighter at port as though he owned the ship, walked into the Captains stateroom, picked up the captain’s Zeiss brass binoculars and boldly walked out with them under his arms.”

Image is of Dale Elliott with his parents.

 

 

 

A Marriage Made in  Heaven?

“85 Grams: Art Williams’ Right Hand Man – Dale Elliott”

In the time of Dale Elliott, men such as he were generally associated with ‘fast cars’ and ‘fast women’. In Dales case he never had all that much ambition to own a fast car, but when  it came to women his needs were quite different.

He was enlisted as a sniper with the military from 1957 thru 1961 when he met Ingrid Scholven in Hohenlimberg Germany. He relayed how their relationship got off the ground:

“I had met Ingrid and we decided we wanted to get married so I went to my commanding officer for permission. As expected he said no, to which I said I was going to marry her anyway.  Knowing that he really couldn’t stop me, he relented under duress and said ‘go ahead’. Being from the generation where men asked the fathers for their daughters hand in marriage I asked her old man for permission, but he being a Nazi during the war was anything but receptive towards those who thumped them in the war. Regardless of his likes and dislikes, we were married two months later in May of 1959 and had five kids together. The up-side with Ingrid is she was very voluptuous but the down-side was she didn’t want sex as often as I, so I use to call her ‘once-a-month-Ingrid’.”

Dale and Ingrid’s marriage dissolved in the late 70’s as Dale was serving out his nine year sentence stemming from the Williams’ case.

Dale remained single and fancy free for a period of time, that is until he met another lady he couldn’t resist. He described that encounter for me:

“I’ve been with Margaree for about 20 years now. My relationship with her started when I got this call from a guy who wanted me to look at the carburetor on his wife’s Austin A55. He was an artist and a communist. Anyway I went over there, banged a new seat into the carb, fired it up and immediately turned to Margaree and said; ‘You’re a good looking woman’. As it turned out, she wasn’t happy with her hubby at the time so she left him and we’ve been together ever since.”

The image below was taken at Ingrid and Dale’s wedding.

 

 

The Main Man

“85 Grams: Art Williams – The Man”

Many knew Art Williams as either a neighbour, through some government agency, as a conspirator or as a close friend; the latter of which saw him as he truly was.

John MacNaughton, former publisher / Editor for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle was one of his closest friends outside of his illicit activities. John recalls:

“Art didn’t believe in paying taxes on anything he made. He refused to pay government sales tax and hated bureaucracy of any kind.

John’s wife Alixe described Art as; “the ultimate free enterpriser; a person who was suspicious of anyone who held power. We had numerous conversations about taxation and he was prepared to work honestly, but he was also an idealistic capitalist. In order to retain ownership of his property, he conceded to paying property tax.”

Shirley Ferguson; Art’s girlfriend at the time of his disappearance, likely knew him better than anyone. While somewhat tight-lipped for fear of saying something that might not be covered by the normal statue of limitations; Shirley did share:

“I remember more than once Art made full payment of his property tax in coins. He’d show up at the municipal tax office on the last day to pay the taxes due, but only ten minutes before the office closed for the day. If they didn’t accept the coins, in his mind they had refused his payment. The clerks were livid, to say the least.”

Ken Sutherland, the department chief for Ladysmith’s RCMP Division recalls:

“Periodically federal or provincial workers would have to go out to William’s place to collect taxes that were outstanding. Because he was so loud and threatening, they would call us to escort them. On one occasion, the collectors turned to Williams and asked to look at his books, to which he replied; ‘Feel free, go ahead, there they are,’ while pointing at a pile of ash on the ground. For all the Feds knew, he had maintained a set of books as required by law, but had burnt them in protest. In Williams’ mind, the pile of ashes said it all. He wasn’t going to pay income tax and I don’t think he ever did.”

This image is of the MacNaughton’s.

 

 

Names Are Not Withheld to Protect the Innocent

As There Are None

“85 Grams: Dale Elliott vs Rev Canada”

While Dale was an unpaid guest of a Federal Institution for his involvement with Art Williams, Rev Canada moved in and cleaned out his shop, and home in lieu of implied taxes that were levied against his illicit earnings, without him having an opportunity to defend their claim.

At the time of the seizure, the bailiff tried to remove Ingrid Elliott’s wedding ring from her finger but only ceased after it became apparent she was going to suffer physical injury. According to Ingrid, the day following the seizure, the RCMP returned to their property with “a representative of BC Hydro and disconnected their power supply, depriving them of heat, water, cooking, well water etc, even though their account was not outstanding”.

Once free to gather his wits, Dale and his lawyer friend Don Bohun directed BC Supreme Court suits at everyone associated with the seizure. Defendants included: Rev. Canada, Quarterway Auction Sales, John Sampson, Gilbert Stevens, Estella May Stevens, Phillip Kushner, William Lee, George Brassard, John Colliar, Anthony Thistle, Robert Miller, BS Bawa and Doman’s Transport, and Osborne Contracting.

At the time of the seizure, Rev Canada had seven individuals at the Elliott home they included: Mr. Savage, Patrick Kelly, G. Barris, Elmer Haskell, William Buston, Charles Williams and Frank May.

All defendants were served between April 14 to 27th, 1977.

Dale’s claim stated the defendants “Falsely declared cause to search and seize any and all material inclusive of property owned by West Coast Separation” (a registered business owned by Art and Dale where they had developed, designed and patented an effective process of separating oil from sea water).

Gunner O Eggerton represented the defendants and repeatedly ‘refused to have his client answer many of the questions presented by Bohun. He furthermore delayed and all but refused to file his demand for Particulars as requested by Bohun’. In short Eggerton managed to frustrate any effort towards attaining a resolution.

When Bohun pressed ‘Savage’ as the defendant representing Rev Canada: “Did you have evidence as to a violation of the provisions of the Act?”.

Answer: “I believe, as stated . . . that I had reasonable grounds to believe that there was a violation of the Income Tax Act.”

Bohun: “Did you authorize the seizure of a 8 foot lathe?”

Answer: “No”. Even so he admitted that he was present at the time it was loaded onto a flat deck but would not comment under whose authority it was taken. (The lathe was the property of West Coast Separation).

Bohun: “Did you Mr. Savage authorize the seizure of those items listed in paragraph 42A of Elliott’s claim?”

Answer: “No”.

Bohun: “Can those items be returned?”

Eggerton responded at this point stating: “There were several seizures made under the writ of the Income Tax Act,” thereby avoiding a satisfactory answer.

When pressed, Savage denied that he or anyone under his supervision seized $1448 from the Elliott home, but he did say he saw that amount taken by a man by the name of Salmon who worked for the Sheriff’s Department.

On further discovery, Bohun determined that the action carried out by Rev Canada was pursuant to Dale’s preliminary trial transcript as provided by the RCMP and the Crown Prosecutor wherein it stated that grant money’s received by The Institute of Mycology (Art Williams’ business) had been redirected to Elliott for the production of MDA. At no time did Rev Canada complete its own investigation into the validity of Judge Cashman’s findings on the associated trial.

While Dale’s conviction was overturned some months later within the Supreme Court of Canada, rendering the basis upon which the seizure took place legally null and void, the $10,763.50 sale of Elliott’s personal property, valued at $100,000, was fate complete.

On the close of the suit, the Elliott’s received no compensation or apology.

Image is of Dale’s home and shop.

 

 

 

Dale Elliott – Neighbour’s From Hell

“85 Grams: Art Williams’ – Right Hand Man”

No one would be so bold as to suggest Dale Elliott was the perfect neighbour during those early years of his involvement with Art Williams. With all the comings and goings of the bikers and counter-culture from his property it didn’t take long for his neighbours to get up in arms.

By 1973 the local authorities had received numerous letters of concern from neighbours registering his children as “incorrigible and anti-social” and the constant din rising up from the property as being “saturated with profanity and vulgarity”. Fred Shiller, Dale’s neighbour living directly across the road, went as far as to present a petition to the RCMP calling for a stop to the activities on the property.

Rising to his civic duty, Shiller agreed to allow the RCMP access to a camper he had stored at the front of his property. There the RCMP would conduct a 24/7 surveillance of the Elliott property to collect license  plate numbers from those who came and went. The RCMP promised they would protect Shiller at all costs.

It took only a day or so for Dale to realize there was an increase in traffic on and off his neighbour’s property, plus there was an unusual low level light in the camper throughout the night which had not been there before.

Before the RCMP could accumulate sufficient evidence to press charges, Shiller was forced to sell at a loss and move as far away from the area as physically possible, citing ‘extreme harassment from Williams’ and Elliott’s associates.’

According to Dale, the fellow who moved onto the property after Shiller was no better; “Larry Fife took up the property after Shiller, only to find out he was a rat for the RCMP back east, but I never got into his face until he started using a sling-shot on my kids. He was taking pot shots at my kids as they rode their bicycles around the school property next door. I simply paid him a visit and told him how things were going to play out if he continued.”

This neighbourhood issue culminated on July 30, 1974 as Dale was charged with “Wilful damage to a police cruiser”.

Dale recalls; “The entire case would have been thrown out if I had just kept my mouth shut. Every cop that sat under cross examination had a different story. They had different times to the events, plus they had us wearing different clothes. I insisted on telling my side of the story which meant I had to take the stand under oath. Don Bohun was representing me and he was dead against it, but I told him if he didn’t let me speak, they I would fire him and get a lawyer who would.

So I get up there and said; ‘Your honour, my son Mike had taken my Yamaha to Lake Cowichan and was late coming back so I went looking for him. I was coming back via River Bottom Rd. and stopped to take a piss. I put my beer on the front of my bike seat and these officers drove by. As I carried on they tried to cut me off but I managed to avoid them, so they followed me home. They started harassing my family so I started taking pot shots at them from the second story of my workshop with my Browning automatic. When I ran out of bullets, I started throwing bottles at them until they figured it was best for them to leave.’

The judge asked me, ‘You threw bottles at them?’ to which I replied, ‘Yes your honour but some were half empty. One broke and a piece of glass hit the constable’s car scratching it.’ Then the judge asked, ‘Did you throw the bottles willingly?’ and I answered truthfully, ‘Yes your honour’. The judge fined me $5 or 5 days in jail and said ‘After hearing all the testimonies, I prefer Mr. Elliott’s'”

Image is of Dale and Don Bohun in 2009.#chapters #truestory #amazon #book #exploreBC

 

 

The Samaritan – Part 2

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Brought Them in From the Cold”

Art Williams was a benevolent sort who would never hesitate to open his door to someone sincerely in need.

Ruth Loomis, who knew Williams in the late 60’s spoke of a couple of US Marines who favoured freedom on their Pylades Island property to that of the interior of a Viet Nam body bag. “The only glitch was my husband Gordon who was a nervous wreck over the possibility the Feds would charge us with harbouring an illegal immigrant”

Art had no qualms about bending the rules, so he built a cabin out back of his home for them to live in. By early summer, ten to twelve hippies were squatting in tents, aluminum sheds and old buses all over his property. As long as they served a purpose, they were welcome to stay. But if Art knew of jobs that were available in the community he would entreat them to better their status. If they refused the work, he considered them nothing more than freeloaders and sent them packing. Art had no admiration for anyone who didn’t produce.”

Art’s girlfriend, Shirley Ferguson recalls; “One of the Marines had a wife and child. When winter came, they asked if they could move into the side of our duplex where Art had his office. Art told them the mother and child could stay, but the father, who had made no effort to find work, could make do for himself outside.”

Image is an aerial view of the Williams property on Westdowne Rd in Ladysmith.

 

 

 

Cast of Thousands – Part III

“85 Grams: Art Williams – Drug Czar”

Ruth Loomis is a lesser known character within the pages of “85 Grams”, yet in my opinion, one of the more colourful.

She developed the notion early on that something was amuck with Art Williams as he and her husband Gordon grew close as intellectual confidants. Ruth’s primary concern was for the wellbeing of her daughter Kristine, who had accepted a position under Art’s tutelage as his chief chemist in the BC Institute of Mycology.

The terms of her employment were sufficiently lose that Ruth knew demands may be placed on her daughter to work in the less acceptable areas of Art’s business life. To maintain a watchful eye, she asked for work on Art’s property doing manual labour which she was more than adept at. Ruth and Gordon had recently lost their younger daughter to a needless roadside accident and had no intention to risk the life of a second.

Ruth and Gordon were immigrants from the US and brought with them a free-spirited, come-what-may lifestyle of the flower era. Rather than face with indifferences of big city life, they chose to purchase half of Pylades Island, a small forested piece of rock off the Nanaimo coastline. There they lived an uncluttered life and whenever the weather permitted, it was unrestricted by clothing.

They held no inhibitions about their bodies and frolicked freely even in the presence of visitors. For many of Art’s crew and followers, the Island not only offered an escape for all things worrisome, but a place of entertainment not found elsewhere.

It’s not known what Art’s true purpose was for his many visits, whether it was to satisfy his overly active fantasies or to quench his insatiable thirst for intellectual conversation which Gordon offered in abundance, regardless, Ruth welcomed him while maintaining a cautious watch.

Image is of Kristine during her time with Art and of Pylades Island.