Norman Ryan

Norman Ryan, "Red," bandit (b at Toronto July 1895, d at Sarnia, Ont 25 May 1936). Nicknamed "Canada's Jesse James," Ryan committed numerous robberies in Ontario, Québec and the US, deserted the Canadian Army in WWI, and once made a spectacular escape from Kingston Penitentiary.

Ryan, Norman

Norman Ryan, "Red," bandit (b at Toronto July 1895, d at Sarnia, Ont 25 May 1936). Nicknamed "Canada's Jesse James," Ryan committed numerous robberies in Ontario, Québec and the US, deserted the Canadian Army in WWI, and once made a spectacular escape from Kingston Penitentiary. In 1923 he was captured by American police, deported to Canada and sentenced to life imprisonment. He became a model prisoner, impressing officials with his exemplary behaviour.

Ryan's story attracted journalists who wrote vivid tales of his criminal career and sympathetic accounts of his apparent rehabilitation. Supported by such persons as PM R.B. BENNETT and MP Agnes MACPHAIL, Ryan was paroled in July 1935. For 10 months he presented himself publicly as an honest spokesman for prison reform, while secretly re-establishing underworld contacts. He was killed in a shoot-out with police after an attempted robbery.