Today, the Town of Brome Lake appears to be a quiet rural town, but on February 24, 1970, it was like the Wild West.
It’s a Monday morning. There is snow on the ground.The Bank of Montreal has just opened. Walking up the street is Evelyn Payne. Opposite the bank, “Butch” Redmond Brouillette has opened his grocery store. There are eight clients inside including Dr. Douglass. Getting into his Cadillac outside the Funeral Home on Knowlton Road is Carl Wilson.
In the bank manager’s office is Jack Barr. At a teller’s wicket is the new teller, Gerry Moar. Just after Gerry takes the large Mont Glen deposit, three men, wearing Halloween Masks, run into the bank. “Get against the wall!” a robber shouts. Three tellers immediately comply. In shock, Gerry freezes. A robber jumps over the counter, and, putting a gun in Gerry’s back, forces him to join his colleagues.
In those days, every branch had a gun. The leader of the robbers demands that Jack Barr hand over his weapon. Barr refuses, saying, “The police are coming!” “So what!” the robber shouts. Emptying the tills, a robber comes to Gerry’s. Finding it locked, he fires into the lock. Everyone drops to the floor. Cash and guns in hand, the three men charge out of the bank to find local policeman, Jean Grenier, standing outside.
Grenier had been in the Town Hall. A smiling, M. Leblanc, tells him that a robbery is going on. Grenier runs out of the building but stops by the window of Butch’s where everyone inside was smiling, and staring at the bank. Grenier wondered if this was a joke. Then the three robbers burst out into the street. Two had submachine guns and one a Luger. Grenier, draws his revolver. Just at that moment, Carl Wilson pulls up in his Cadillac. The robbers open fire. Wilson gets out of his car and begins to cross the road toward the bank. Evelyn Payne, just about to enter the bank, dashes across the road, and hides behind the car next to Wilson’s. Moving in and out of cover behind the trunk of the Cadillac, Grenier returns fire. More than 15 of the gang’s rounds go through Butch’s window. “The bean cans were flying!” said Grenier, “The Cadillac had more than 50 bullet holes in it and had to be written off.”
In the firefight, Grenier wounded one of the men three times in the chest. As the wounded man staggered, one of the robbers ran towards Grenier. This was it. Grenier thought as he aimed a kill-shot at the man’s head. There was a click. He was out of ammunition. “If I ran, I was dead. So I played dead. I pushed my pistol to the side, and lay face down,” said Grenier to Tempo, “This was the best decision I made in my life.”
“We got the bastard,” the robber shouted looking at Grenier’s prone body. He and the gang got into their car and drove away. When the getaway car left, Grenier ran back to his car and gave chase. Meanwhile, oblivious to everything, Wilson tried to enter the bank to make his Monday deposit.
Thanks to Gerry Moar, Jean Grenier and Evelyn Payne.
Epilogue – Jean Grenier later became Chief of both the TBL Police and also the fire brigade. Gerry Moar married Jack Barr’s daughter, Connie.
Part 2 Next Month – What happened to the robbers?