The Desperate Ones


Short-listed for the 2007 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction

They were among Canada’s most desperate criminals, yet their names have been all but forgotten in the annals of history - until now! In their day these lawless men made headline news. Author Ed Butts has rescued their stories from dusty newspaper pages and polished them up for today’s readers in this fascinating volume.

The Markham Gang introduced Canada West to organized crime long before anyone had heard of the Mafia. Lew Bevis took on the whole Halifax Police Department in a blazing gun battle. The wild Macdonald cousins went to Michigan, where they ended their violent careers as victims of a savage lynching. Reid and Davis, the notorious Border Bandits of the Roaring Twenties, were the nightmare of every banker from Manitoba to the state of Washington. This rogues’ gallery of killers, robbers, and men of mystery shocked the nation, challenged the forces of law and order, and sometimes even got away with it.


Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction


Author Edward Butts ... pulls from the shadows a wide array of killers and thieves and various criminals who, in their time, shocked our nation. 

... some of the stories in this book may not have been re-told since they originally appeared in the local newspapers.

Brandon Sun (August, 2006)

... dispels the myth Canadian history is boring and Americans have more colourful characters in their past than Canadians do.

The Guelph Mercury (December, 2006)

This is a rogue's gallery of killers, robbers and men of mystery who shocked the nation, challenged the forces of law and order and sometimes even got away with their crimes.

Prince Albert Daily Herald (November, 2006)

About the Author

Edward Butts

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Edward Butts

Edward Butts is the author of numerous books, including Murder, Line of Fire, Running With Dillinger, True Canadian Unsolved Mysteries, and The Desperate Ones, which was nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award. He lives in Guelph, Ontario.