The Macabre Museum

Curated by the RCMP Historical Collections Unit, the annual Macabre Museum feature exhibit at the RCMP Heritage Centre displays artifacts and evidence from some of Canada’s most notorious historical true crime cases. 

“If you have come to see this exhibit in the past, I would encourage you to come again, as we’ve taken a slightly different approach this year,” RCMP Historical Collections Unit Curator Jody-Ann Eskritt said. “This year’s version of the Macabre Museum puts more of an emphasis on police techniques and the police work that went into in solving some of Canada’s most infamous historical crimes.” 

The exhibit purposely focuses on older cases out of sensitivity for victims, families, and members of the Force. Many of the featured artifacts in the exhibit were either confiscated from prisoners or donated by the court system or an RCMP detachment. These include the Benito Bandits’ death masks, weapons seized from criminals, bullets, rope from a noose, and other unusual criminal artifacts.   

The exhibit also includes artifacts from a few cases that have not been on public display before, including firearms from the 1956 Coquitlam Royal Bank robbery (during which RCMP Bud Johnstone was shot eight times and survived!), as well as bullets from the murder of William J. Parsille in Alberta in 1933, a case that turned into a cross-border manhunt and was solved using ballistics evidence. Guests can also view artifacts and evidence from other notorious Canadian true crime stories in the exhibit. 

Also new this year is a display on the history of RCMP highway patrol. This part of the exhibit includes an actual 1992 Ford Mustang RCMP highway patrol car, as well as artifacts pertaining to the introduction of new technology for highway patrol, including early radar detectors from the 1960s and 1970s, and an original Motorola “Handie-Talkie” portable telephone introduced into patrol cars in the 1950s. 

The Macabre Museum is inspired by the Crime Museum at New Scotland Yard, headquarters of the Metropolitan Police in London, England. In 1874, the Metropolitan Police began collecting criminal memorabilia, mainly for police training and study purposes. The Crime Museum continues to this day and was only opened to the public in 2015 – 141 years after it was established.  

Macabre Museum opens to the public October 4, 2021, and runs to November 7, 2021. The exhibit is available for viewing with regular admission during the Centre’s operating hours, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM seven days a week. 

Trigger Warning: Violence. Viewer discretion is advised. Some of the material in the exhibit may be upsetting, particularly for small children under the age of 10.