Tag Archives: Police Court

Six months hard labour for being gay in 1946

On Monday, May 13th, 1946 Calgary Police Inspector Reg Clements wrote up an occurrence report regarding the arrest and sentencing of Alfred V. Andrew who pled guilty to the “charge of gross indecency”, which meant homosexual behaviour.

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Inspector Reg Clements in 1950, when he became Calgary Chief of Police. Photo: Glenbow Archives: NA-2861-9

The report explains that on Saturday, May 11th at 8:30 PM, Constable F.C. Shipley was on patrol downtown. The officer noticed a young man loitering in front of the Alexandra Hotel and questioned him. The youth replied that he was waiting for his cousin who had gone upstairs with another man to his room. Suspecting that something was wrong, he interrogated the young man and gleaned more information, including which room the cousin had gone to. Shipley proceeded there where he found another youth in the room with Andrew who had his pants opened in front. Shipley felt that an offence had been committed and arrested him on the spot.

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Alexandra Hotel in 1930 at 226, 9th Ave. SE. Opened in 1911, demolished in 1980 to make way for Arts Commons. Source: Glenbow Archives.

Both the cousins and Andrew were brought to Police Headquarters for questioning. After the cousins had provided testimony, Andrew was charged with gross indecency. He was held in remand until the 13th when he pleaded guilty at the Police Court in front of Magistrate D. C. Sinclair. The jail sentence was for six months of hard labour.

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Calgary Police Headquarters in the 1940s at 333 – 7th Avenue SE.  Source: Glenbow Archives.

Upon Inspector Clements recommendation, the next day Constable Shipley was awarded an entry in the Calgary Police Merit Book and received three months promotion towards his next rank for his “alertness and attention to duty” in the Andrew arrest.

The police documents do not reveal the ages of the cousins nor of Andrew, but in 1946 homosexual acts were illegal at any age. The documents also refer to the cousins as boys, but in the context of the Police Court, these individuals were likely between 16-21 years of age. Other more documented cases called an 18-year-old, “a mere boy,” and an earlier Police Court Magistrate, Colonel G. E. Sanders, was plagued by juvenile delinquents as old as 21.