Looking back: Creemore’s gun chase

 In Opinion

by Jack Heslip 

On Tuesday, April 30, 1974, a bizarre occurrence took place in Creemore that could out-do some of the television shoot-outs seen on our home screens. In fact, it might have some of the aspects of the Marshall Dillon show, and featuring his deputy, Chester. 

It seems a stranger dropped into the Crest Hardware appearing innocent enough while browsing unattended as was often done: Joyce Harper was in the store at the time, but not too busy elsewhere, while John Harper was in another section, unseen by the visitor. 

When, rather suddenly, the erstwhile customer left the store, Mrs. Harper noted what seemed to be a gun stock showing beneath his jacket. She quickly called John and the chase was on, culminating some time later with the capture of the alleged thief but not before several local people were involved, some considerable chasing and ending with a warning gunshot that brought things to a hasty conclusion. 

John Harper chased the intruder to Elizabeth Street where the latter dropped the pilfered weapon. It was retrieved by George Price who joined the chase and contributed to the ultimate apprehension as did Maurice Winchester, Alan More and Bill Gowan. 

Meanwhile, Harper gave chase through back yards to and beyond Edward Street then east along the river bank to Bill Gowan’s farm. Here the visitor crossed the river and made his way west, emerging near the cemetery. 

It was at this point that George Price played the clinching role, apprehending the culprit at gunpoint and even letting loose a warning blast to forcibly indicate that it was loaded. George, who had gained the cemetery vicinity by car, herded his quarry back to town by the same means and handed him over to OPP constables Buckford and Pring who had been alerted while the chase ensued. 

Their investigation disclosed tentative home locations of the suspect as far away as British Columbia and also Bowmanville. They did not release the suspect’s name. It was understood that he made a statement indicating that he wanted the gun for a specific purpose – to shoot someone – was the term allegedly used. 

For those involved it must have been a hair-raising experience. While it could read something like the script for a television show such as Hill Street Blues or Night Heat it doubtless was anything but. 

From a 1999 Creemore Star, Submitted by Colleen Stamp with these notes: Jack Heslip owned the drug store for many years and was interested in local history. 

Crest Hardware is now Home Hardware. George Price was the owner of a building where there was a general store and restaurant. It was torn down and replaced by the gallery. MauriceWinchester had a garage where the Creemore Kitchen is now.  

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