This article was originally published in Maclean's Magazine on February 6, 1995
She was known in Calgary society as the "hostess with the mostest," but it may be some time before Joudrie is entertaining again. On Jan. 21, Joudrie, dressed in a sweater, dark stretch slacks and high heels, was visiting with her estranged husband, Earl, 60, chairman of the board of three prominent Canadian companies - including Gulf Canada Resources Ltd. of Calgary and Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. of Toronto - at her luxury condominium overlooking the posh Bearspaw Country Club in northwest Calgary. When its wealthy members gather for drinks, the conversation often revolves around two issues: the oil industry and the state of their neighbors' marriages. Dorothy Joudrie's marriage certainly had not been going well. Since 1990, the couple has been in divorce court trying to reach an amicable settlement. And police say that Earl Joudrie's Saturday morning visit degenerated into a bitter dispute, and that when they arrived, they found him lying in a pool of blood with six bullet wounds in his back. "They had an argument," said RCMP Cpl. Tim Fenton. "He was lying in the house and she was still there."
Word of the shooting quickly spread through Calgary, and television newscasts carried live pictures of the helicopter ambulance bringing Joudrie, who is now listed in fair condition, to Calgary's Bow Valley Centre Hospital. As he was being treated, his wife, her white hair still neatly pulled back, was being led in handcuffs from her home on Country Club Lane. She was charged with attempted murder and using a firearm, which is believed to have been a small calibre pistol, in the commission of a crime. Last week, she appeared in court in Calgary and was released under conditions that cannot be revealed because of a media ban on the proceedings. For many of the Joudries' closest friends, the cause of the sudden outburst of violence in one of Alberta richest neighborhoods remains a mystery. "They were wonderful people," said Rick Orman, a longtime family friend and a former provincial energy minister. "I'm overwhelmed that this happened in Calgary, and in a socioeconomic group that you don't associate with this kind of violence."
Joudrie, who maintains residences in Calgary and in Toronto, had literally grown up with Calgary as the postwar oil boom fuelled its economy. And as his career flourished along with the city, he became known for his ability to turn around troubled companies. Joudrie started out as a landman for Kentucky-based Ashland Oil and Refining Co., amassing leases on oil and gas properties. He rose through the corporate ranks, becoming chairman of the company's Canadian division in 1968. Joudrie left Ashland in 1978 and took on other senior roles in the oilpatch, including the position of president and chief executive of Dome Canada Ltd. from 1985 until 1988. He also served as a director for oil, real estate and manufacturing companies, and he is a former chairman of the Public Policy Forum of Ottawa. As well as Canadian Tire and Gulf Canada, Joudrie also chairs Algoma Steel Inc. of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., which he helped save from financial collapse in 1991. And his shooting came only weeks after he had successfully convinced Torch Energy Advisers Inc. of Houston, Tex., to buy a 25-per-cent interest in Gulf.
Joudrie's expertise as a negotiator was not restricted to corporate boardrooms. As president of the Calgary-based Independent Petroleum Association of Canada, he represented the industry in the early 1980s in its tense discussions with federal Energy Minister Marc Lalonde over the implementation of the National Energy Program, which was angrily resisted by many Calgary oilmen. In the late 1980s, he also helped to bail out the Calgary Stampeders football team. Said Roy Jennings, who was president of the Canadian Football League club at the time: "A number of businessmen put up $25,000 apiece to save the Stampeders, and Earl was one of them."
Throughout much of Joudrie's career, Dorothy, who was his high-school sweetheart in Edmonton, was at his side. They were married in 1957 and, as the couple prospered, they had four children, all of whom still live in the Calgary area. As Earl Joudrie's career took off, Dorothy's reputation as a gracious hostess also flourished. Glenn Brost, who sits with her on the board of directors of the Bearspaw Manor Estates Condominium Association, noted that she had a great sense of humor. Said Brost: "She is really a fine person and a lot of fun to be around." And Dave Harcus, who has known the Joudries for almost 15 years, added: "If there was a charity thing going on, she was involved."
Dorothy Joudrie also loved a good party. Last December, following the condominium association's annual meeting, she invited everyone back to her home. And only days later, on New Year's Eve, she hosted another party. Al Waldie, former president of Calgary-based Western Cinevision Inc., was there and said he was not aware that the couple were having problems. "I'm flabbergasted," said Waldie. "She is a lovely churchgoing lady." Added Bob Lyon, a neighbor who also attended the New Year's party: "Dorothy was extremely outgoing. I visited Earl and Dorothy when they were living together in the Bearspaw area and they are marvellous people."
Appearances aside, something was profoundly wrong between Dorothy and Earl. According to documents filed with the Court of Queen's Bench in Calgary in 1990, the Joudries were divorcing. And Dorothy Joudrie was suing her husband for half of his assets, including sole ownership of the Bearspaw home that was worth $300,000, when the couple purchased it in 1979. As well, the same documents state that she was also seeking a civil restraining order to prevent her husband from going near her home on Country Club Lane.
The divorce, however, was never finalized. Court records show that in April, 1994, Earl Joudrie then petitioned for divorce on the grounds that they had been living in separate homes for more than a year. But in May, 1994, his wife contested all parts of the petition. And her lawyer, Ronald Foster of Calgary, said even though a negotiated settlement over property was ultimately concluded, the couple never divorced.
While police have advanced no motive for the shooting, friends said that the couple put great emphasis on their social status. And any compromise of her position in Calgary society may have angered Dorothy. "She is in the oil business," said Dorothy Joudrie's brother, Ken Jonason, "and it's an entirely different world than the average working Joe." Others say that Dorothy Joudrie could never really come to terms with a divorce."She was pretty adamant about the fact that she wasn't divorced," said Sylvia Elliott, who owned a condominium across the road from Joudrie. "And it didn't sound to me like she wanted to be."
Meanwhile, Earl Joudrie has remained silent about the incident. In fact, even as he was being carried into the hospital, he told police and medical personnel that they were to say nothing to the media. And despite the presence of the helicopter ambulance that carried Joudrie to the Bow Valley Centre, hospital spokesmen even attempted to deny that he was being treated at the facility. Then, later in a news release, the hospital said his wounds were not life-threatening and that he is expected to recover quickly. But for now, the riddle of how one of Canada's top executives was shot six times on Calgary's posh Country Club Lane remains unsolved.
Maclean's February 6, 1995