The MacLeish Chronicles: Introduction

Written by Harold McNeill on July 10th, 2013. Posted in MacLeish Chronicles

Oak Bay Welcome 2011

The MacLeish Chronicles takes place in the Municipality of Oak Bay, a small residential area in the Southeast corner of the Captial Region of British Columbia, a community where Detective Sergeant MacLeish and his partner, Detective Bard, pursued a felon whose attention to detail in the perfecting his craft drew the admiration of his pursuers on both sides of the border.

Introduction to the Series

The MacLeish Chronicles focuses on criminal and other events investigated by the Oak Bay Police Department a force of some thirty regular and civilian members. The series departs from the structure of the other stories in the Police Notebook Series, in that in the Chronicles Series the names of the characters have been changed and each story is written in the form of a novel.

The series, as in other stories about the Department, continues to bring into focus underlying social, ethical and legal issues faced by police as they not only pursue wrongdoers but, just as importantly, assist citizens who have found themselves facing challenges of one sort or another. 

Over their career, police members meet all manner of criminals and while the nature of some crimes can make it difficult to maintain an impartial view of the perpetrator (or sometimes even the victim), police members who become too judgemental are less effective in the performance of their duties.

It is also certain that a police officer who exhibits extreme views or harbours latent racist attitudes towards those whose race or lifestyle is one of which they disapprove are far more likely to become the subject of abuse complaints than officers who maintain an even-handed approach. Complaints of police abuse most often arise as a result of an officers attitude rather than having committed an actual physical assault.

Most experienced police officers also understand that a good many criminals exhibit a depth of character that can be masked by the exploits in which they have become involved. Of course, there are there are also those ‘victimless’ crimes that are more socially oriented than criminal (e.g. simple possession of marihuana). And, on the same tack, there are many criminals who exhibit greater honesty than do ‘honest’ citizens give not a second thought to scamming family, friends, business partners and others who appear to be easy marks.

421px-Frank_Abagnale_(cropped)On the criminal side, take for sample a man such as Frank Abagnale who was profiled in the movie Catch Me if you Can. His personality and outward confidence were such that he was easy to like and for the FBI officer who pursued him for several years, to realize Abagnale possessed some extraordinary skills that were simply being applied toward illegal rather than legal ends.

Photo:  In his late teens and twentiesFrank Abagnale became one of the best-known cheque forgers and con artists in the world.  After serving a half dozen years in a US Federal Penitentiary, he became a security consultant with the FBI where is his expertise in forgery was put to good use. Today, he continues his consulting work for industry and government.

In a local case along similar lines, one bank robber gained considerable notoriety for his daring escapades in British Columbia and elsewhere. After serving a number of years in penitentiary he turned his life around to become a productive member of the community he once held at gunpoint. At the time of his seeking parole a few police officers, including one from Oak Bay who felt the man had learned his lesson, came forward to provide character references. A sample of that mans exploits are outlined in an earlier post titled the Oak Bay Bank Heist.   Link Here

In this, the first post of the MacLeish Chronicles, a Viet Nam veteran and career criminal from the United States, Larry Doncaster, after arriving in Victoria in the 1980s, continued to ply his trade in Oak Bay and Esquimalt. Larry provides an excellent example of a career criminal whose dedication to perfecting his craft set him apart from others who worked in the field.

The story traces the challenges of solving a particular type of property crime that caused a significant problem in Oak Bay and Greater Victoria over the last few decades of the last century. The story also demonstrates how some criminals are able to ply their trade in a manner that reveals a high degree of respect for their business partners, victims and even the police members who pursued them.

A Matter of Principle is presented in two parts. Link here to Part 1


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  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Gramham I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]