Sponsored Collection

Atlantic Books for the Holidays


The Big Red Fox

The Incredible Story of Norman "Red" Ryan, Canada's Most Notorious Criminal

by Peter McSherry

0 ratings
0 of 5
comments: 0
reviews: 0
add a tag
Please login or register to use this feature.

sentencing, criminals & outlaws, criminal procedure
list price: $8.99
also available: Paperback
published: 1999
publisher: Dundurn Press
  • Short-listed, Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction
close this panel

Short-listed for the 2000 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction
Norman "Red" Ryan was a notorious bank robber, safecracker, and killer. He escaped from Kingston Penitentiary twice - first by force, and then years later by gulling the credulous into believing that he was "reformed." The dupes of Ryan’s second emancipation included the prison’s Roman Catholic chaplain, several nationally prominent citizens, the country’s largest newspaper, and, ultimately, R.B. Bennett, the prime minister of Canada, who made the mistake of arranging a "political parole" for Ryan.
Six people - three of them innocent victims - died as a result of Red Ryan’s freedom. Dubbed "the Jesse James of Canada" and "Canada’s most notorious criminal," Ryan had compiled a record of nineteen convictions for crimes of theft and violence, and had been in nine shooting affrays with police and citizens. He was a "lifer" in an era when "life" meant just that. Yet he got out of Kingston after just eleven and a half years and returned to Toronto, the city of his birth, amid fanfare befitting a national hero. His death in a liquor store robbery in Sarnia on May 23, 1936, just ten months after his release, was a huge jolt to Canada, and especially Toronto.
How could such an obvious threat to society be paroled from prison as a paragon of reform? This question is central to The Big Red Fox. The answer lies not with Ryan himself - not even the cunning and deceitful Red Ryan could have hoodwinked his way out of a life sentence - but with those who helped him, and who benefited from his release.

close this panel
Contributor notes

McSherry's checkered career has equipped him with an extraordinary insight into the street, crime, and criminals. He has been a high school teacher, a truck driver, a taxi driver, and a freelance writer. The Big Red Fox is the product of McSherry's many years of research and his lifetime of interest in Norman "Red" Ryan.

close this panel
Editorial Review

... a valuable addition to the annals of true crime.

— The Toronto Star
close this panel

Buy this book at:

About the Author

Peter McSherry

Peter McSherry has worked as a high school teacher, a truck driver, a labourer, and a freelance writer, but mostly he's been a taxi driver - and that's how he wants to be known. His first book, The Big Red Fox, about notorious criminal Norman Ryan, was an amazingly detailed work of history.

Author profile page >

Other titles by Peter McSherry

more >

User Activity

more >
Contacting facebook
Please wait...