On January 9, 1965, thirty-five-year-old Aiden Francis MacDonald met up with William Alexander Mackie, 19, and Robert Michael Black, 18, and took a cab ride to his death.
MacDonald was known to frequent the BaBloor Hotel at 1163-1167 Bay Street, between Charles and Bloor Streets at the end of the day after his work as an insurance actuary was done. Drinking buddy William McKay said he met MacDonald at the BaBloor in 1963, and said MacDonald “showed no religious or racial prejudice in his conversations.”
McKay said he and MacDonald drank at least six glasses of beer on the night of January 8, and left his drinking partner at about 11:30 p.m. MacDonald had taken time out that evening to call his sister. MacDonald would meet Black and Mackie at the BaBloor, and continue drinking.
Samples of MacDonald’s blood showed a blood alcohol level of .31%
In the early morning of January 9, the three men went to the Black Creek bridge at Downsview Avenue, which was originally designed to carry the northeast quadrant ramps of the original Jane Street Cloverleaf on Hwy 401. It was made of concrete and had handrails for pedestrians walking along the street. The three men began drinking whiskey
When MacDonald’s body was found more than 1.5 km downstream, an identification card gave his address as Grandstand Place, Leaside. However, that was his sister’s address, and she was unsure of where he actually lived.
Black, who had a criminal record, and Mackie were arrested and charged with capital murder after the Crown alleged they had robbed MacDonald. Samples of MacDonald’s blood showed a blood alcohol level of .31%, and at that level a normal man would be very inebriated.
According to both men at their June 1965 trial, MacDonald somehow slipped into the water and out of reach of his drinking companions. Both young men also denied that they told several people they had picked up a gay man and “rolled him”, then pushed him into the creek. They had believed MacDonald carried between $300-$400, but he was found with $2.25 in his pockets.
Witness Barry Newton said Mackie told him there had been a scuffle, and the man had fallen into the creek then later ran away. He said Mackie claimed MacDonald had been standing in waist-deep water the last time he saw him. Detective Benjamin Pitchforth said there was two to three feet of water in the creek at the time.
During the trial, accused Robert Black described MacDonald as “a queer” to the all male jury, who had attempted to touch Mackie.
During the trial, accused Robert Black described MacDonald as “a queer” to the all male jury, who had attempted to touch Mackie. Black said Mackie protested and pushed MacDonald away, and the man lost his footing and fell into the creek. Black said MacDonald sat in the water, then got up and walked away down stream. Black said after leaving the area and going to a nearby strip mall, he returned to the area out of worry for MacDonald. He told friends MacDonald had lots of money on him so they would agree to help in the search.
Black said on January 8 he had consumed 20 glasses of beer and two large bottles of rye whiskey before meeting up with MacDonald and Mackie. Black said police testimony during the trial were lies.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if he was a wanted criminal and we got $1,000 for drowning him.”
After their arrest, police constable Donald Sullivan hid in a vestibule outside their cells and took notes. Sullivan, who had by the time of the trial retired and become a private investigator, said in trial that Black said to Mackie “You had the bright idea of punching him out. Do you know where they found him?”
Mackie replied “No.”
Black said “One and a half miles from where we dumped him in the river.”
According to Sullivan, Black later said “Wouldn’t it be funny if he was a wanted criminal and we got $1,000 for drowning him.” Black then told Mackie he stayed behind to make sure MacDonald did not get out of the creek.
On June 5, 1965, after a two week trial, Black and Mackie were found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death. The jury deliberated for just three hours. Both men were stunned and continued to proclaim their innocence. However, Justice William D. Parker did not disagree with the jury’s finding which made a strong recommendation for mercy. However, there was no leeway in the sentencing and the Justice had no choice but to pass the death sentence.
Corrections Canada says “During the 1960s, death sentences were also being commuted at an unprecedented rate. In fact, the last execution in Canadian history was on December 11, 1962 when two people were hanged for murder [not Black and Mackie]. From this time forward, all death sentences were commuted by the government of the day.”
Murder Village Map
Name: Aiden Francis MacDonald
Date of Death: January 9, 1965
Manner of Death: Drowning
Location: Black Creek bridge
Suspect Name: William Alexander Mackie and Robert Michael Black
Conviction & Sentence: Capital murder, sentenced to death