In today’s world of biker gangs, the Hell’s Angels reign supreme.
No other biker gang has the numbers, the influence — or the criminal reach — of the world’s most famous motorcycle club.
But there was a time when another club — a Canadian biker club — challenged the Hell’s Angels’ size, if not its influence. Its name was The Satan’s Choice Motorcycle Club, and its undisputed leader was Bernie Guindon.
By 1970, Satan’s Choice had some 300 members and chapters across Canada, making it the second largest biker club in the world. Guindon took the name from another disbanded club in Toronto, and he was president by the time he was 22. In those early days, he and his fellow riders were more rebels than criminals.
“They were scruffy kids who hung around hamburger stands and scowled,” long-time crime crime reporter Peter Edwards tells The Current’s guest host Laura Lynch.
“They were scowly kids who chewed their hamburgers in an angry way.”
Guindon’s pride and joy was a custom bike he christened “Wild Thing.” Edwards says he used to ride it around his hometown of Oshawa like a “conquering hero.”
But Guindon was a biker with a code. He valued loyalty above all else. He despised “connivers” and “rats.” Edwards says Guindon always prided himself on being old school.
“If you have a problem with him, you’ll get a punch in the chin. He won’t stab you in the back.”
As Satan’s Choice grew in size, it began to attract more unsavoury members, and the former rebels evolved into criminals. Guindon was never interested in gun crimes, but he was hardly a saint. He served roughly 15 years in prison, first for an indecent assault on a minor, and again for drug trafficking.
Edwards explains the first conviction came out of a sex party with several bikers and one woman. Guindon — 23-years old at the time — swore the sex was consensual. The woman claimed otherwise in court. She was 15-years-old at the time. Guindon told Edwards he thought she was 18 or 19.
If I was at war, Bernie’s the guy I’d want sitting next to me.’
– Peter Edwards on motorcycle club leader Bernie Guindon
Guindon’s prison stints scuttled a promising amateur boxing career. He won bronze at the 1971 Pan Am games and likely would have been on Canada’s Olympic team in the 70s had he not ended up in prison. Former champ George Chuvalo said Guindon would have had a great pro career.
“He knew what he had to do to be a good fighter. He had the stuff,” Chuvalo told Edwards for the book.
Guindon never turned pro — partly because he worried that an overzealous prosecutor might declare his fists “deadly weapons,” earning him harsher charges for his never-ending street brawls.
He was also a pro in womanizing. Guindon has been married four times, and lost count of how many children he’s had —somewhere between 11 and 16 — all but two from different women. He’s tried at various points in his life to connect with his many children, with mostly mixed results.
Guindon was only actively involved in raising one — a son he named Harley Davidson Guindon. Harley followed his father’s example into a life in crime, although Edwards says that wasn’t at his father’s urging. Harley Guindon has done several stints behind bars. Father and son both did time separately in Millhaven Institution, a maximum-security prison.
“I think [Bernie] is a complex man,” Edwards tells Lynch.
“He’s a very human person. And if I was at war, Bernie’s the guy I’d want sitting next to me.”