Stephen Reid, notorious Stopwatch Gang member, bank robber, and author, has passed away at age 68.
His death was confirmed on Tuesday by Allan Forrie, the owner of Thistledown Press, and his agent, Denise Bukowski.
According to several reports, he died due to pneumonia and heart failure.
We have lost him. Condolences to Susan Musgrave and her family. RIP Stephen Reid.
Who was Stephen Reid?
During the 1970’s and 80’s, Stephen Reid was a member of the Stopwatch Gang, which robbed over 100 banks in the U.S. and Canada. One of their heists involved stealing $785,000 worth of gold bullion from the Ottawa airport in 1974.
For these crimes, Reid served 21 years in the Kent Institution in B.C. before being paroled in 1987.
But in June 1999, almost a decade later, he resurfaced again in connection with an attempted bank robbery in Victoria. Reid stole $93,000 from the bank and then shot at a Victoria Police officer from a car. He was arrested shortly after while attempting to hide out in a James Bay house.
After this, Stephen Reid served 15 years at William Head prison, where he is said to have recovered from a serious drug addiction. He was granted day parole in 2014, after which he began living in a half-way house in the Victoria area.
His career as an author
During his first prison stint, Reid wrote a manuscript which he sent to Canadian poet Susan Musgrave. The two got kept up correspondences and got married in 1986. Soon after, his first book Jackrabbit Parole was published, launching his writing career.
In 2014, after being released from prison, Reid worked as a youth counsellor and taught creative writing. He applied for full parole in February 2015, but was rejected and remained on day parole.
Stephen Reid also wrote an anthology of semi-autobiographical essays, entitled ‘A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden: Writing from Prison’, which went on to win the 2013 City of Victoria Butler Book Price.
Community mourns his loss
His death has elicited several reactions on social media, as community members and those who knew him mourn his loss:
Stephen Reid, a famous bank robber from the Espanola/Massey area has passed away. His life and what lead him to a life of crime has always intreagued me. My condolences to his family. RIP
Stephen Reid.. so much more than a member of the stopwatch gang, now sober, a kind man, stopping a couple days ago to…
I was the first A.D.H.D kid I knew , I could read the paper but books not so much . In my early 20's I stumbled across "…
I’m so sorry to wake to the news of Stephen Reid’s passing. He was a lovely man with a beautiful spirit. Condolences to…