In his final years, Adrien Dubois lived discreetly in cottage country north of Montreal, presiding over a company he registered as a real-estate management firm. In a published notice, his family said he died at home last month and would be "sorely missed."
There was no mention of his past notoriety, nor did it allude to his equally infamous eight brothers.
Four decades ago, a public inquiry heard allegations that Mr. Dubois was part of a French-Canadian clan of nine mobster brothers who engaged in drug trafficking, loan sharking, extortion, the exploitation of strippers and prostitutes, and the murder of rival criminals.
Mr. Dubois's funeral is to take place Monday afternoon at the funeral centre of the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery in Montreal.
The obituary notice published by his family said he was 68 when he died on Dec. 12. No cause of death was explicitly stated, but the notice suggested that donations may be made in his memory to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Back in 1975 and 1976, Mr. Dubois and his family were front-page news during the hearings of the Quebec Police Commission's inquiry into organized crime.
The inquiry report said the Dubois family rose from poverty to rival the Mafia in power in the Montreal underworld.
"Adrien Dubois is generally considered the strong man of drugs in west-end Montreal … he is also very active in the downtown core with his brother Claude," the inquiry report said.
In 1982, Adrien was charged with the murder of another gangster, machine-gunned at dawn during the turf war between the nine Dubois brothers and the three McSween brothers. Adrien was acquitted and later also beat a drug-trafficking charge after a long court battle.
Afterward, he stayed away from the spotlight until his death, though his name appeared occasionally in news reports that described him as a behind-the-scenes player.
"He was much more low-profile than his brothers; the others were more the muscle-flexing types. He was perceived as smarter, operating more discreetly," Crown prosecutor Jacques Dagenais, who was counself for the inquiry, said in an interview.
While he was the second youngest among his siblings, Adrien featured prominently in the report of the inquiry.
It said the gang was spearheaded by nine of the Dubois brothers: Raymond, Jean-Guy, Normand, Claude, René, Rolland, Jean-Paul, Maurice and Adrien. (A 10th brother, Roger, shunned the criminal life and worked as a municipal employee.)
Witness accounts of the time described how Adrien, along with Jean-Paul and a several goons armed with sticks and revolvers, once took control of a hotel in Old Montreal by summoning the employees to a 2 a.m. meeting where they were threatened, insulted and fired. One employee was later beaten up and lost an eye.
It was part of the gang's expansion out of its home turf in southwest Montreal, as it took control of the downtown areas, the inquiry heard.
Adrien, along with Claude and Roland, focused on trafficking cocaine, LSD, amphetamines, hashish and marijuana, the report said. The report added that, working with Claude, Adrien extended the clan's drug retailing eastward to downtown Montreal, wresting control of the Square Saint-Louis park from the Devils Disciples biker gang.
In one picture snapped in 1976 when the brothers took a La Presse photographer on a tour of bars with them, Adrien wears a fur-collared leather coat and has a snake tattoo on his left hand. He is with Claude, who sports several rings on his fingers. The photo caption says this was at the Café Abitibi, where the owner told La Presse that he never had any problems with the Dubois brothers.
Others felt differently. One witness for example told the inquiry that he was forced to worked as a drug pusher for Adrien after he couldn't repay a $50 debt he ran up playing billiards.
The pusher testified that the marijuana – which cost the Dubois brothers $30 a pound to import from Mexico – could be resold for up to $750 on the street. "They were greedy, so they took even more profit that they should have," he said.
The Dubois rose from the working-class neighbourhood of Saint-Henri, a Montreal district bordered by rail yards and factories.
The strength of the Dubois clan came from the trust between the nine brothers.
"Coming from a very poor background, but being strong, aggressive, scrappy and very closely-knit, they quickly realized that unity was their strength. Together, from the start, they made a gang of perfect cohesion against whom few in their neighbourhood could compete," the inquiry said in its report.
"Their cruelty towards their foes and victims quickly shaped their reputation," the report added, describing how one restauranteur, who insisted that they pay for their food, was beat up and had a cross carved onto his chest with a knife.
Adrien was born on Jan. 18, 1946, one of the 11 children of Napoleon (Paulo) Dubois and Alice Thibodeau.
In an interview that the older brothers gave in 1959, they described an impoverished childhood, being mocked at school for wearing second-hand clothes and having to skip meals or eat only molasses sandwiches.
According to the inquiry report, the brothers started with petty street crimes and graduated to extorting local shop owners. Through violence and intimidation, they eventually controlled taverns and bars, prime locations for their drug trafficking and loan sharking.
By the 1960s and 1970s, their reach stretched into downtown nightclubs as they challenged the supremacy of the Cotroni Mafia family.
In 1974, the Dubois started a turf war against a neighbouring gang who used to work for them, the McSween.
A dozen people were killed in the conflict, with the most notorious incident being the Feb. 13, 1975, killings known as the Valentine's Eve Massacre.
It took at the bar of the Hotel Lapinière, south of Montreal, identified by the inquiry as a hangout of the McSweens. Three hooded men opened fire in the packed bar during a country-music show, killing four men and wounding five other people.
Police couldn't find anyone to testify against the Dubois in criminal court until the early 1980s when two former associates – Donald Lavoie, a former hit man, and Claude Jodoin, a reporter turned business partner of the clan – both agreed to be informants.
Their testimonies helped convict Claude Dubois in 1982. He received a life sentence for the murder two men in a city nightclub in 1973, one of them Richard Desormiers, the brother-in-law of mafioso Frank Cotroni.
Mr. Lavoie was also the star prosecution witness after Adrien was charged in 1982 with murdering Jacques McSween.
Mr. Lavoie alleged that the gunmen were Adrien and his brother Jean-Guy, along with a third suspect.
In his court testimony, Mr. Lavoie sad he was at the wheel of a van that transported the three gunmen, who ambushed their victim after an all-night vigil, firing up to 30 bullets at close range.
He said Adrien told him afterward that he had mixed feelings, praising the crew for eliminating Mr. McSween but feeling disappointed that they let another gang member escape.
A new trial was ordered after the jury was deadlocked. On June, 1983, Adrien and Jean-Guy were acquitted.
Around the same period, Adrien was also accused of four drug-related counts after the RCMP intercepted a 450-kilogram shipment of hashish sent to Montreal from Lebanon, in July 1980.
The authorities dropped the case after a long judicial wrangling over identifying confidential police sources.
Adrien later moved to St-Adèle, a ski town north of Montreal, and started a real-estate company.
He still made the news sometimes.
Last year, the Gazette reported that Adrien had lent money to a controversial provincial police constable who was being investigated for acts of intimidations against city officials in the Montreal suburb of Beaconsfield.
The constable owned a house that sold for $1.3-million. Land records showed that the constable obtained a $500,000 mortgage from Adrien's numbered company, 9118-6999 Quebec Inc.