The following is the information I currently have regarding Grollier Hall and Father Martin Houston, “the Devil of Grollier Hall.” I will hopefully be receiving further information and documents in the future. The picture below was found online. I would appreciate an explanation as to how the various residences were incorporated, ie. were the boys’ and girl’s residences different wings of the building? or, are there other buildings?
For simplicity’s sake I am presenting the information in point format. I will be adding links to further information on this page. Any further information on Father Houston would be most welcome.
(1) Grollier Hall, a residential school for Indian and Inuit children in Inuvik,North West Territories, opened in 1959 and was run by the Oblates until 1985. It closed in 1997. The school was situated beside Stringer Hall, a similar facility operated by the Anglican church. Each facility had a capacity for 250 children. As of 1970 the government of the NWT assumed control of Stringer Hall.
Grollier Hall was close to the “Igloo Church,” the most photographed building in Inuvik.
(2) Grollier Hall comprised several residences- there was a senior boys’ residence, a junior boys’ residence, a junior girls’ residence and a senior girls’ residence. The girls’ and junior boys residences were administered by the Grey Nuns, the boys by the Oblates. For a brief spell the junior boys residence was supervised by an Oblate Brother. There are no allegations of sex abuse related to that Brother.
(3) Father Max Ruyant omi, an Oblate priest, served as administrator of Grollier Hall for 25 years. He died 01 December 1995 in Edmonton, Alberta.
(4) There were a number of male “supervisors” for the boys residences. The supervisors, all laymen, basically acted as dorm fathers, ensuring the boys were up in the morning, did their chores and their homework and so on. The supervisors were hired by Father Ruyant
(5) An RCMP task force was struck to investigate Grollier Hall sex abuse allegation.
432 people were interviewed. Initially 29 victims came forward. Other came forward later. Some never came forward. I don’t at this time have the number of victims.
Houston stood trial twice for his Grollier Hall crimes, once in the early 60s, and again in 2004. The other three stood trial in 1997 and 1998 in what many refer to as the Grollier Hall trials. Each of these three accused was tried separately.
Not all supervisors molested the boys. Those who did molest frequently molested the same boys. I understand that there are number victims who were molested by more than one of the supervisors.
(6) Martin Houston worked at Grollier Hall from 1960-1962.
Houston was charged and convicted in 1962 for the sexual abuse of five boys at Grollier Hall.
I have been told that Houston was caught because, while taking one of the boys with him for a trip to Alexandria Falls he had checked into a hotel with the boy, and, following their departure, a “love note” Houston had penned to the boy was found in the room.
(7) Houston was sentenced to 10 years in jail. He was declared a dangerous offender. He served nine years.
(8) During his incarceration Houston decided he was called to the priesthood. I have been told that he convinced an elderly couple to finance him through the seminary.
(9) Houston was kicked out of both the Oblate Novitiate in Arnprior Ontario and Nicodemus House in Edmonton, Alberta after about three months because of behavioural issues.
(10) Houston completed his seminary at St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta.
Houston’s fellow seminarians did not know that he was a convicted child molester. One related to me in a recent phone call that during his seminary years Houston was “aggressive,” “defensive” and had quite a temper. Apparently it was not uncommon for Houston to erupt with “Why don’t you keep your F…n’ mouth shut?” The seminarians “avoided him like the plague.”
(11) In 19990 convicted molester and dangerous sex offender Martin Houston was ordained a priest by Bishop Antoine Hacault, Diocese of Saint Boniface Manitoba. Father Houston was incardinated in the Diocese of Saint Boniface.
According to one online source, Haucault sponsored Houston (to be a priest in his diocese) despite recommendations to the contrary from Catholic officials in Edmonton and in the North West Territories,
(12) After ordination Houston was first assigned to serve at Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. Complaints from parishioners led to his transfer Carman, Manitoba in 1997. I don’t know the nature of the complaints.
Houston was transferred to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Carman, Manitoba. That was 1997.
(13) The Grollier Hall trials ran through 1997 and 1998.
In March 1997 68-year-old Jerzy George Maczynskiwas sentenced to four years in jail. He entered a guilty plea to charges of indecent assault, gross indecency and buggery in the early 60s which were committed while employed at Grollier Hall (Macznski, who had been convicted twice for sex assault charges, was already serving a 16 years sentence in a BC court for sex offences committed in a BC residential school )
In February 1998 Jean Coumeau, then 64, was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of indecent assault.
In August 1998 58-year-old Paul Leroux was sentenced to 10 years in jail for sex offences committed at Grollier Hall between 1967 and 1979. The charges included gross indecency, indecent assault, attempt to commit indecent assault and attempted buggery. (Leroux had a prior 1979 conviction for sexual abuse of a boy in Inuvik. Of interest is the fact that, despite that conviction, in 1980 Leroux was hired by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Vancouver. He served as regional director from 1988-1994. In 1990 he obtained a pardon. In 1994 became a freelance investigator contracting to the CRHC and B.C. Human Rights Commission. Also of interest is the fact Leroux, who was raised in Granby Quebec, claimed that he was sexually abused as a teenager when he was with the church choir )
I am told that tensions in the community were such at the Leroux trial that security was at an all time high. There were RCMP spotters on the roof of the courthouse, Leroux arrived wearing a bullet-proof vest. There were plainclothes RCMP officers in the crowd: they were armed.
(14) There were four suicides during the Grollier Hall trials. All were victims of Paul Leroux.
(15) It seems that Houston’s name re-surfaced during the Grollier Hall trials. And, it seems it was around this time that the Grollier Hall ‘boys’ learned that Houston was now a priest. They were upset and angry.
On hearing the news Harold Cook headed off to Winnipeg to speak to “Houston’s superior.” Harold, a Victim’s Advocate throughout the trials and now a Crown Witness Co-ordinator in the NWT, was molested by both Leroux and Comeau.
Harold does not recall the name of the priest he talked to, but he recalls the meeting vividly.
According to Harold, it was probably sometime in 1998 that he met the priest at the Elephant Castle in the Delta Hotel in Winnipeg. During that meeting the priest allegedly told Harold not to worry about Father Houston: there had been a miracle …Father Houston had been cured of his sexual problems.
On hearing news of such a miracle Harold says he told the priest: ‘if you have a pocketful of miracles why not apply it all sex offenders and then there won’t be any sexual abuse.’
According to Harold, at that the priest uttered an expletive, pushed himself from the table and was gone. Harold was left to foot the bill.
The timing of the “miracle” is unknown. Was it before Houston’s ordination? Had it just transpired? Harold doesn’t know.
(16) I believe it was after the Elephant Castle meeting that an official from the Saint Boniface diocese advised Grollier Hall victims that Martin Houston was going to apologize. A meeting was arranged by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Martin was a no show.
(17) As a result of the Grollier Hall trials, two more victims of Houston came forward and reported to police.
(18) In 2002 parishioners at Our Lady of Carmel in Carman, Manitoba learned for the first time that their parish priest was a convicted child molester. They were not amused.
Molester aside it seems that parishioners had been encountering troubles with their parish priest.
“The council told the Archbishop that Houston has struggled in his role as parish priest. ‘These struggles relate to emotional instability, aggressive outbursts, inappropriate speech contained in his sermons, and insulting remarks directed to a variety of parishioners both inside and outside the Church.’…. Many parishioners say it is clear that Houston is unable to perform his priestly duties and needs medical care. But they wonder whether he will get the help they say he needs given the silence from the diocese.”
The description of his character is eerily akin to that given to me recently by the priest who was in St. Joseph’s seminary at the same time as Houston.
(19) I’m not sure when the new Houston victims came forward, nor do I know when charges were laid. I do know that in 2004 Father Martin Houston was convicted – again.
Houston received a suspended sentence. The recollection by some familiar with the trial is that the court felt Houston had already paid for his crimes with his previous sentence, plus his designation as a dangerous offender was somehow deemed grounds for such leniency
Victims were understandably disappointed and upset.
(20) Houston used to get the boys out of the bed in the middle, tell them to strip and order them to run around naked in front of him.
As I mentioned elsewhere, Houston was known to tie string to a boy’s penis and pull on the string.
He sodomized some if not all of his victims.
He is known to the victims as: “The Devil of Grollier Hall.”
According to Harold Cook, Father Rayaund exhibited a “silent anger” toward boys who complained of sexual abuse.
(21) Asked if he ever told anyone about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Leroux and Comeay Harold replied that, yes, as a child he told Father Ruyant and one of the nuns. According to Harold he was told: ‘no, people of God don’t do this.’ Harold felt he had no choice but to let it go. Years later Harold almost whispers: “the shame was so great I didn’t want to tell anyone. "
“’On a dead man’s door you can knock forever.’ That’s the way the Church has been toward us” That’s what Harold told me.
(22) 25 August 2010: Father Martin Houston, twice convicted molester and dangerous sex offender, died.
30 August 2010: funeral Mass for Father Martin Houston at St. Boniface Cathedral, St. Boniface Manitoba, Archbishop Albert Legatt presiding.