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New Developments in the Cold Case Murder Mystery

Since we first offered a reward for anyone who can find the media references to the bones found behind the Hull Arena, we have had some questions, more discussion, and possibly a new time frame for the search.  We have also decided to increase the reward to $150 to the first person who provides us with the information we are seeking.

We’ve had a lot of discussion about the year.  We know the bears were killed in 1970.  But we’ve begun to think that perhaps the bones weren’t found right away.  We had cut up the bear and removed the bones; we had sent the hides to be treated; and we had given the feet to an old aboriginal who was going to use them for medicinal purposes.  But that still would have left the heads, fat, and bits of meat adhering to the bones, in the ravine behind the Arena.  All of that should have instantly told the Coroner that the bones were not human remains.  So the heads and fat must have been missing, the bones that were found must have been fairly clean, and there probably weren’t a lot of bones found.  To me, this most likely means that the bones were pretty scattered, and probably weren’t found until the following year. 

We do remember getting the phone call about the bones when we were at the cottage, and that’s why we assumed we were hunting, and it was the same year.   But it makes more sense to think that those bones had spent a lot of time getting cleaned up by bugs and animals, and we only assumed we were hunting when the bones were found.  We were at the cottage, so it could have been any time in 1971, rather than just in the fall & winter of 1970, as we had thought. So the library search needs to be widened to include 1971.

That brings me to another matter:  people have asked a lot of questions about a microfiche search at the library.  More information is needed.

Microfiche is a long, continuous roll of film on which is photographed (in chronological order) every page of the various local newspapers, several months per roll.  These rolls of film are needed, because newspapers fall apart fairly quickly. Microfiche rolls are kept at the Main Branch (Laurier Street at Metcalfe) of the Ottawa Public Library. You go in the main entrance, turn left and take the escalator to the second floor.  At the top, look to your left and past the people using the computers, and you will see a desk manned by very helpful people.  If you’ve never looked at microfiche before, they will help you find what you are looking for, show you how to load and run the machine that magnifies the film, and help you copy the article, when you find it. It’s important to take breaks and not try to spin the film too fast—that’s how I got motion sickness while sitting still. It’s a fascinating process, and you will probably stop to read newspaper articles about events you had forgotten about, or that happened before you were born.  We hope someone will enjoy the search, find the article, and earn the reward


This is a story about bones found behind the Hull Arena, at Brewery Creek, more than thirty years ago.  Police thought they were human remains, and called the coroner.  The Coroner for Hull, a Doctor Lorrain, sent the bones to Montreal to be examined.  The event was reported in local newspapers, and on local radio and television stations.  We hope that someone out there will find the newspaper articles, or the radio or tv transcripts or footage about the bones, and we have increased our reward to $150 for the first person that provides us with media material from this story.

The autumn of 1970 was pretty mild, which usually doesn’t bode well for the hunters.  But the Bretons did ok that year:  two bears and four good bucks, including one really big buck up on the ridge.  But those deer have been forgotten, while the two bears have been the subject of a story that is re-told, year after year.

On opening day, I was on stand at Merritt’s Hill and my younger brothers were running the woods.  What came down to me was a pretty big bear—we figured it was in its fourth year.  It went down, and I was pretty pleased with the size of the beast.

The next day, the younger guys went to play broomball:  hunting season lasted a lot longer, back then, and so other activities were permitted to intrude.  Dad, Roger, and I wanted to hunt, so while my brothers and nephews were away, we went out:  Dad and Roger were hiding, and I took my sisters Denise and Helene, and Denise’s friend, to run the area we call Punkin Creek.  This is about a twenty or thirty minute walk through the woods.  Donna stayed right with me, since she was afraid of the woods.  Denise and Helene walked the bush on runs usually taken by the truant brothers.  We didn’t see any deer, but we put out another bear:  a male, as big as the one I had just shot, and my Dad had no trouble bringing it down.

We hauled the bear to the cottage, and when the boys got back from their game, we took pictures.  Then we had to consider what to do with the two bears.  The weather was too warm to leave them hanging, and we didn’t have access to coolers.  We decided that Burt and Ted would bring the bears to the city.  They would hang them up in Burt’s father-in-law’s garage, skin them and cut them up on the picnic table, then bring them to Denise’s house, where she had a big freezer.

They went off to the city and hung the bears in the garage, with a picnic table underneath, and skinned them, keeping the hides for my mother to have made into rugs.  The next day, they removed all the bones, cut up the meat, wrapped it and got it over to Denise’s.  They were left with quite a pile of bones.

Burt’s father-in-law said they could not leave the bones in the garbage, which was kept in paper-lined garbage cans outside the garage.  With the dogs roaming freely at that time, the bones would have been all over the neighbourhood.  So Burt and Ted put the bones into paper bags, and drove out behind the Hull Arena.  It’s important now to remember that back then, before environmental enlightenment, there was a “dump” behind that arena, in a ravine.  People needing to get rid of old couches, fridges, broken furniture or other junk would pitch it into the ravine, and it would end up 20 or 30m feet from Brewery Creek, which ran at the bottom of the ravine.  Burt and Ted heaved all those paper bags full of bones down into the ravine, and they left.

At some later date, it appeared in the newspapers, and on local radio and television newscasts, that dogs were carrying bones around, that the bones apparently came from a ravine behind the Hull Arena, and the police thought they were human bones.  Dr. Lorrain, the Hull Coroner, examined the bones and decided to send them to Montreal for analysis.  Some people remember that the story was hot for two or three days in a row, and then it just evaporated.  We always thought that the story died because the folks in Montreal found that the bones were from bears—the ones that Burt and Ted had tossed into the ravine.

Now we are looking for the newspaper articles, or transcripts of media broadcasts.  Our hunting notebook, kept meticulously by Helene, says that both Dad and I got bear in 1970.  Local newspaper archives only go back to 1985 or 1980, depending on the newspaper.  For 1970, you have to search through microfiche.  Two of us have recently spent long evenings at the Ottawa Public Library, endlessly searching through microfiche, newspaper issue by issue, from September to December of 1969 and 1970.  Did you know that you can get motion sickness from trying to spin through those things quickly?  And we have found nothing. I am beginning to think that perhaps the bones weren’t found until the following spring.  But I haven’t been able to steel myself for more hours at the library, scanning microfiche.  Since our first language was French, I asked Burt whether it was probably in the French language paper.  It may have been, but Burt and others are absolutely certain that it was in the Ottawa English newspapers, on radio and television.

Every year during hunting season, we hear the story again, and laugh and laugh.  We would dearly love to have confirmation of our story.  If you find the articles, please email me at or