More about Tony Gregson from Frank Wade's

"Advocate For The North - Judge John Parker"


Judge John Parker was a northern lawyer, politician and later a judge who traveled widely in his practice. Described as a man of humor and humanity; a visionary and sparkplug, Parker was a fiery speaker who came straight to the point, sometimes upsetting the establishment. When elected to the Northwest Territorial Council, he spoke out about the dreadful conditions of the native population. He predicted nothing but good for the future of the north.

"Parker was involved in another rather odd Yellowknife case which could be called the "Stolen gold Bars Case." His involvement, however, was not as central as he might have wished. The case concerned a young Australian miner called Tony Gregson. he was a happy-go-lucky character who seemed well-educated, and was certainly athletic, handsome, gregarious, and popular. A well-paid single miner, he was never short of cash or charm, and cut quite a swath through the ladies of the town.

 He worked in Yellowknife before moving to Consolidated Discovery Mine, some sixty miles to the north and only accessible by bush plane or winter Cat train. After a year or so there, he informed the mine manager that he was moving on. This was normal for single men at remote mines. They could save a lot of money in a short time, since there was nowhere to go and nothing to spend it on...provided they didn't lose it all in gambling. Also, they would become bored and want to seek greener pastures. The manager expressed his regrets and assured Gregson that a job would be waiting for him if he decided to come back.

When he was collecting his last check, the accountant told him about a small group insurance refund and asked where he wanted it sent. Tony had no intention of giving a forwarding address and replied, "Oh, send the check to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as a contribution from me."

Shortly after this, an insurance company contacted Parker and asked him if he would act on its behalf. It wanted him to find out about the circumstances of the theft and advise whether there had been negligence on the part of the carriers, and, if so, whether a suit could be launched against them. He refused because both Max Ward and Emil Lamoureux were old friends and clients.

From time to time reports were received that Gregson had been seen by people from the Territories while they were away on holiday or on business, but no one turned him in. One friend encountered him in Detroit and Tony expressed pleasure at seeing him. He suggested a drink at the Book-Cadillac Hotel in half an hour, but never turned up.

On June 27, 1957, three years later, the News of the North included an item that Gregson had been caught in Sydney, Australia. He had been reported as a stowaway by the captain of the SS Cornwall. Later it was revealed that he had given the police a false name. However, after routine finger-printing, the police, still on the alert for him, discovered his real name. With some smart detective work, his print was matched to his name on an Interpol listing, which stated that he was wanted in Canada for the theft of gold bars. He was locked up and the RCMP were notified.

He was extradited within a month and returned to Halifax by ship in the charge of a Canadian immigration officer. He said he could have escaped from the ship at Fiji, but had given his word and decided to return to Canada to face the music. He was met by Corporal Bill Campbell of the Yellowknife RCMP and said with his usual aplomb, "Hello Bill, nice of you to come."

On his return to Yellowknife, the Department of Justice asked Parker to prosecute the case, but he refused, since he expected to be asked to act for the defendant. The thought of carving a defense out of what he knew of the case intrigued him. However, Gregson retained Don Hagel. Maybe he thought Parker would refuse because he was such a good friend of Max Ward.

Much to Parker's surprise, Gregson pleaded guilty and Judge Sisson's sentenced him to twenty-eight months and he was paroled after eighteen months. No mention was made of the disposition of the gold and it was never recovered.

Parker was hired by the mine's insurance company to conduct a watching brief. he was to sit in court, listen to the proceedings, and inform his clients of anything that might interest them. Parker later discovered what had happened to Gregson during his three year absence. His first problem was to sell the gold bars without arousing suspicion. Certainly it was too dangerous to attempt this in Canada and the States. He eventually learned that Cuba would be the best place. After he arrived on the island, he cut a big chunk off one bar and had little trouble in finding a willing purchaser after a casual conversation in a bar. After a fling on the island, he returned to Nova Scotia, presumably using a false passport. Here he purchased a small boat and went into the fishing business in a small Nova Scotia fishing port. He hired a young man to help him.

One day his landlady came to his room saying that two RCMP officers wanted to see him. Fearing the worst, he adopted his usual jovial manner and came down to talk to them. he still had one gold brick and part of another in a locked suitcase in his room upstairs. They apologized for bothering him but wanted to know something about the man who was working for him.

After this close brush with the law, he decided to sell the boat and return to Cuba. Here he went through his ill-gotten gains at a fast rate because within two years or so, he got into difficulty with the Cuban authorities and was ordered to leave. he was forced to stowaway on a ship, in Cuba and elsewhere, to get back home to Australia. There was talk that he spent, lost, or was forced to give up what was left of his gold bars and so became a penniless destitute. So much then for the colorful tale of Tony Gregson."