March 17th 1955, Québec’s national hero and identity symbol Montreal’s Canadiens hockey star, Maurice Richard, had been suspended for three games of the finals for arguing with a line judge. The gesture had been perceived as francophobe and the decision taken by a kangaroo court. Clarence Campbell president of the N.H.L. dared come to the Forum for the following game. Montrealers of all allegiance considered it a slap in the face. Campbell was pelted with everything the spectators could lay their hands on. The police had to escort the gentleman out of the place and drive him to safety.
The crowd poured on Ste-Catherine Street and began venting its rage and frustration on everything in sight, smashing cars, store windows, attacking tramways all along the street heading east. Montrealers are not rioters…but Campbell’s arrogance had been too much. Amongst the crowd there were foreign students attending various higher learning institutions. One of them spotted a ring in a smashed jewellery window. Not thinking any further he picked it up, as a souvenir, and stuffed it in his coat pocket.
The ring was not the only thing picked up, he to was picked up by a nearby policeman and, being a minor since he was 17, was taken to the juvenile court detention centre. Needless to say we had a very busy morning of the 18th. The student was an Anglophone and was called before judge Nicholson..who called me in to look at the whole matter and report to him as soon as possible.
While the judge was speaking, a police liaison officer asked to be heard. The boy was from a well healed and powerful family where he came from. Overnight his father had cabled the jeweller the value of the ring, 3000$ (of 1955). Judge Nicholson gave him a good verbal drubbing and wished he would enjoy his new ring. I was spared the case.