Wednesday, 16 September 2009

30 - Peter King

In the 1950s, when afternoon daily newspapers allowed young boys and girls to be their own bosses as after school carriers, the Toronto Star held subscription contests.

And once a year, the top subscription sales carriers from across the province would be transported to New York City early in January for the experience of their young lives.

First by train, then by plane. Sometimes, there were more than 100 winners. This blogger won six consecutive trips to New York and the memories linger.

Fast forward to the Corneil's auction barn in Little Britain up Lindsay way in the early 1990s and there stood the three amigos: Roy Bassett, Bob Waddell and Peter King, three former Toronto cops who took a liking to auctions.

They had stories to tell and when they discovered they had a former Sun reporter in their circle, the topic turned to newspaper carrier days. Peter, it turned out, was one of the Star's New York trip winners.

Peter, always the gentleman, said during his undercover narcotics days in Toronto, he busted a young man in the 1970s who later became a well-known Toronto newspaper columnist. The charge had to do with pot, but he would not name names, initially.

Later, when he did name names - Mark Bonokoski - it was over his kitchen table during a discussion about the possibility of someone writing a book about his eventful undercover years with Waddell as his partner.

We gave Peter's number and book idea to Mark and the cop and the former pot bust suspect renewed acquaintances in a much different light. Mark eventually wrote an honest column about his encounter with Pete the narc.

They were connected once again on a much higher plateau.

On Tuesday, Mark again wrote about Peter King. It was an affectionate obit for a man who loved his family, police work and fishing.

Pete, 67, a victim of cancer, died Saturday in a Lindsay hospital and the funeral was held yesterday.

"Family, friends gather for undercover drug cop who helped arrest more than 3,500" read the subhead for Mark's column.

In a twist of fate, one of those 3,500-plus suspects arrested was giving Pete King, a Toronto cop who left his mark, the fitting sendoff he deserved.

On a personal note, a few years ago, we photocopied some issues of Route Builder, the Star's in-house publication for carriers, which included coverage of our 1950s New York trips.

While reading the issues, Pete said it would be interesting to know what became of all of the Star carriers on those trips. A Star flashback feature, perhaps?

He fondly remembered Ruth Trumbull, with a glint in his eye, and wondered what became of the Star's top female subscription sales winner.

The paths we all take often cross down the road. A chance encounter at an auction reunited two former Star trip winners, plus a former narc and his young catch.

Thanks for the stories, Peter. The police stories. The auction stories. The fish stories.

And on behalf of our home poker game that you and Bob drove from Lindsay to Toronto to sample a few times, thanks for the addictive 2-4-6 game you introduced.

It remains a favourite 12 years later, although Ed, Duffy, Jack, Mike, Howard, Tony, Bruce and the other high rolling T.O. players have since upped it to 3-6-9.


  1. Can anybody explain the 2-4-6 card game? I'm always looking for a new addiction.

  2. It is a high-low game. Each player is dealt five cards, with three additional community cards placed face down on the table. First community card is turned over, round of betting at $2. Second card is turned over, round of betting at $4. Third community card, $6 round of betting. Players can use their cards and any of the community cards for the best five card hand. A variation is Psycho 7, with each player being dealt seven cards and required to discard two of those cards, with the same three community cards play. Of course, the betting can vary, say 20 cents, 40 cents, 60 cents or $20-$40-$60, $200-$400-$600, $2,000-$4,000-$6,000, depending on your limits.

  3. Thanks! Let the games begin!