His memoir was turning into War and Peace.
So that’s when Vernon’s Andrew Maksymchuk decided to make a trilogy, outlining his life as an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer.
Part two of the trilogy, TRU: Tactics and Rescue Unit…The Last Resort in Policing, is now available at Bookland, Chapters and online.
“When I was writing the first book, From Muskeg to Murder, I was writing about my family history and then my career, and it was getting quite long, so I stopped,” said Maksymchuk, who turns 69 next month. “I decided to write a trilogy.”
Born in Enderby, Maksymchuk grew up in Grindrod, then moved to Vernon at age 15, graduating from Vernon High School in Polson Park.
He attended one year of Grade 13, or first-year university, in Salmon Arm, then he and buddy Ken Dase decided to drive across Canada to “see what’s there before going back to school.”
That was the plan, though it never really happened.
The pair ended up in Hamilton working for the Firestone tire company, a job Maksymchuk hated. Dase ended up getting a job with Eatons in Hamilton, and was later transferred to the Vernon Eatons department store. Maksymchuk stayed in Hamilton.
“I ended up spotting these police officers in good-looking uniforms and shiny cars, so I put in my application,” said Maksymchuk on how he started with the OPP, which was on a big hiring kick back then.
After nine days of training – it would have been 10, said Maksymchuk, had the 10th day not fallen on Good Friday, so recruits were given the day off so they didn’t have to be paid for the holiday – Maksymchuk was assigned to his first posting in Kenora, Ont.
His latest book, TRU, focuses on his pioneering of the special unit.
“The idea for TRU started in Los Angeles with a SWAT team in about 1968,” said Maksymchuk. “New York City also was developing a hostage negotiation tactical unit as well.”
The need for such a unit in Ontario was borne from an incident in London following a store robbery. Two officers were going door-to-door looking for suspects when they were taken hostage.
The police, said Maksymchuk, handled the situation poorly, and something had to be done so officers could respond to such a situation. That was one of the reasons TRU was formed, and Maksymchuk was one of the first volunteers for the special unit.
A second reason for the unit to be formed was the upcoming 1976 Montreal Olympics, the first Games after the Munich Massacre in 1972, when 11 Israeli athletes and officials were murdered in the Olympic village.
“Canada was the first country to host an Olympics after the massacre, and I was in charge of one of the tactical teams,” said Maksymchuk. He and the OPP TRU squad were assigned to the sailing competition which was held on Lake Ontario in Kingston. There were no terrorist attacks there or in Montreal.
Maksymchuk’s book touches on that incident, how TRU was formed and how it remains active today.
He just came back from a five-week book tour of Ontario that was well received. The tour launched in Collingwood, a town of 10,000.
“One of the chapters in the book deals with the shooting death of a police sergeant in Collingwood,” said Maksymchuk. “I was in charge of a five-man team that captured the suspect. I wanted to launch the book there as a tribute to the sergeant.”
Maksymchuk, who is working on his third and final installment of his memoir trilogy, will be at Bookland today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to sign copies of TRU.