Northern Connection

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Published by: Optimum Publishing
Release Date: June 1, 2006
Pages: 302
ISBN13: 978-0888902450


The true story of Canada’s first former family of crime. This is the story of how the Cotronis arrived from the poverty-stricken hills of Calabria to build a crime empire in the New World. They did it with a combination of smarts and vicious ruthlessness.

But like all empires, this one would eventually fall to even more brutal and ruthless rivals, including the notorious Quebec-based biker gangs.

Peter Edwards’ research took him to Montreal, New York, Marseilles, Rome and Palermo. He visited mobster homes, crime sites, favoured restaurants, prisons… All the details and conversations are true. Nothing was reconstructed for dramatic effect. Blood Brothers was a national bestseller.


“A unique book on criminal history, written by a journalist who knows his topic and writes in a lively, direct style.”
—Michel Auger, author of The Biker Who Shot Me: Recollections of a Crime Reporter


It rained heavily on the day of Vincenzo (Vic) Cotroni’s funeral, but that didn’t stop the curious, the reverent or the authorities from attending his north Montreal send-off. In life, Vic Cotroni had been quiet and outwardly modest. In contrast, his death was accompanied by a seventeen-piece brass band. Spectacular floral arrangements filling twenty-three cars escorted him to the afterlife.

Everyone on the streets of north Montreal who heard the funeral dirge that September afternoon in 1984 knew Vic Cotroni didn’t need grand gestures or flashy clothes, quick movements and loud words to announce his importance. The 5’5” great-grandfather with a bad heart and arthritis had been powerful enough to kill or enrich a man with a nod, a gesture or a few softly spoken words. But Cotroni preferred mediation to violence, and his finesse and ability to generate respect had earned him that rare Mafia luxury; a death in bed of natural causes. Some former associates who shared Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery hadn’t been so wise or lucky or well-connected, and had been lowered into the ground with their bodies disfigured by buckshot and bullets.

But Vic Cotroni’s considerable achievement of holding all enemies, but time, at bay and dying a peaceful death in his seventy-fourth year was no consolation for his daughter Rosina, now a mother approaching middle age. She clutched a large crucifix and wept uncontrollably in the rain by the grave and stared at the coffin, as if unable to believe that her father, once arguably the top Canadian in the Mafia, was finally dead.