Monday 2 June 2014


When 72 year old Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan was arrested for drug trafficking following a raid, jointly undertaken by the RCMP Drug Squad and the New Westminster Police (with what might be called background assistance from the Vancouver Police), on Wednesday, December 22, 1965, three other people were arrested – Margaret Anne Cunningham 50, Joe Sperling 45 and Thelma Mosier 40. MacLauchlan, Cunningham and Sperling had their preliminary hearing in New Westminster. 
On the other hand, Thelma Mosier, who was nowhere in sight when the initial takedown occurred, was arraigned in Burnaby. We have mentioned this before. We are also wondering how she came to be involved in this crime and have recently come across some possible leads. In any case, in March 1966, Thelma Mosier pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years. 
We have done some research into Mrs Mosier and have come up with the following information: we are certain she was married to Richard Mosier, born in 1914, who died in 1984. The Mosiers first appear together in the public record in 1953, in the federal voting list for that year, when they are living on Fell Avenue in Burnaby and, again in 1957, in the federal voting list, when they are living in Half Moon Bay, near Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. In the 1953 list Richard Mosier is listed as a truck driver and, in the 1957 one, as a logger. In the 1953 electoral roll, the Mosiers are listed as living at the same address on Fell Avenue as a Mr and Mrs L Bullerwell. It appears that the couple separated at some point after that because, by the time of the 1965 voters list, only Thelma Mosier appears. She appears at a Sperling Avenue address, the same one as William and Hazel Boone, a married couple in which the husband is a sales analyst. Mrs Boone has no occupation listed. 
Remembering that Mrs Mosier was arrested in 1965 and sentenced to seven years on March 3, 1966, it is not surprising that, when her husband Richard next appears in a voters list, it is by himself – in Sechelt in the 1968 and 1972 lists. On both occasions he is listed as a logger. Richard Mosier died aged 70 on June 21, 1984 in Vancouver.
However, Thelma Mosier pops up next in a rather interesting situation. It seems reasonable to assume that the woman who, from 1982 until 1992, was listed as the Manager at the Seventh Step Society at 219 Carnarvon Street in New Westminster was the same person as the associate of Dr MacLauchlan, Margaret Anne Cunningham and Joseph Sperling. After all, the everyday management of the Seventh Step was run by ex-convicts. Probably for that reason, the organization was, during the 1970s in New Westminster, a very controversial establishment. Based on the teachings of Bill Sands and Rev. James Post, Seventh Step was basically composed of ex-convicts, who had gone “straight” and become successful citizens, helping newly paroled prisoners follow the same path of reform and re-entry into society. Incidentally, one of the directors of the organization at that time was Provincial Court Judge Nick Mussallem.
The current Seventh Step Society website states the following credo:

7th Step is a program designed to help the incorrigible and recidivist offender change their behavior and attitudes using a basic self help philosophy.  Its fundamental principles are realistic thinking and positive peer pressure.

In the history of penology there has never been a program, which could conclusively reach and motivate to change the hard-core convict population.  The Seventh Step, self-help program was initially designed to reach those men and women who are many time losers.  They are strong men and women who often are leaders within the structured institutional environment.

So, basically it was about ex-convicts helping newly-released convicts rebuild their lives along the straight and narrow. At the time of its introduction to New Westminster, many citizens wanted nothing to do with it. The Seventh Step Society first came to public attention in New Westminster with its plans to establish a half-way house for prisoners at 131 Third Street in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood. Hundreds of angry Queen’s Park residents put their names to a petition opposed to the idea and presented it to City Council. Similarly the prospect of a convict (ex or not) settlement at 219 Carnarvon also ran into a storm of opposition – especially from business owners along that street. However, that particular hostel seems to have weathered the outrage because it operated in that location at least until 1990. By the time Thelma Mosier was manager at Seventh Step at 219 Carnarvon in 1982, it appears the organization had become an accepted part of the neighbourhood landscape.
Ken and I would be most interested in hearing from anyone who knew Mrs Mosier when she was the manager at Seventh Step and can share their impressions or anecdotes about her.

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