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The life of Paul Haden

February 24th, 2009 · 29 Comments

Last June, a man was found dead in an apartment near Broadway and Balsam, apparently after having inhaled fumes from the ecstasy that he was refining on his stove.

The story intrigued me, especially since several people I know had known the man who died, Paul Haden. I wasn’t sure what I would find when I started looking into what happened. It turned out to be a journey with some unexpected turns as I followed Paul’s life. You can read the story here.

I realize that some of you may be profoundly disturbed by the choices Paul made, as some of his friends were, and you will express that. Please do so, but be mindful when making your comments that his family and friends will likely be reading them.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • LP

    Honestly Frances I had trouble with this one. I love your writing as well as the heart and soul you put into your work. This one just bothers me.

    Its no secret the city is embroiled in a gang war of proportions this city has not yet seen. Many are dead, more have been wounded, a gangster’s wife killed in front of her son.

    Although dissimilar to Paul in that he had a degree, a successful job, and what on the surface seemed to be good parents, they all chose to live and die for what amounts to chemical fulfillment or the profits thereof.

    He may have been a philanthropist, an all around good guy, and a good co-worker, but he was still a drug dealer.

    It doesn’t matter that he had no gang.
    It doesn’t matter that he didn’t carry a gun.
    It doesn’t matter that he advocated for only using ‘e’ twice per year.

    (I’d be willing to make bets he didn’t limit his sales to 2 doses per year per satisfied customer.)

    What matters is that from a very young age, he was taught by those parents that it was okay to disrespect the laws you disagree with, and it eventually cost him his life.

    The drugs he was cooking up on his stove were not the likes of “smoking a plant” or “sucking on a leaf”. They were chemicals. Chemicals that have no place being ingested by anyone or anything at any time for any reason.

    I’m sorry I just don’t buy the whole expanding the mind bullshit. Perhaps shrinking the mind by killing brain cells maybe.

    There are far too many successful people out there that have chosen to live a good clean lifestyle that does not involve this type of thing for me to think that Paul was any better than Kevin Leclair, Raphael Baldini, the Bacon Boys, or Clayton Roueche.

    Because he didn’t die in a hail of bullets, I’m supposed to think his choices were okay?

    Perhaps we need to start saying that glorifying dealers and the users who enable them, has to stop and it isn’t acceptable from anyone at anytime.

    I believe your article Frances, was a little too soft on this chap.

  • Ben

    LP – you say “they were chemicals. Chemicals that have no place being ingested by anyone or anything at any time for any reason.” Then proceed to offer no facts or information to support this outrageous claim.
    If you would please add up the neurological effects of all the cleaners, monoxides, heavy metals, food stabilizers, colouring agents, and millions of other chemical products we run into daily you would realize that a small ecstasy dose here and there is irrelevant.
    Actually, considering the pleasure it brings those who choose to do it, it is not irrelevant, but positive.
    Haden was offering a source that did NOT supply money to those who would use it to harm others.
    You will never remove demand LP, please look south of the border for confirmation of that.
    You CAN reduce the harm and anti-social side effects tied up in the supply.

    Also, please tell me what you mean by a good clean life by the way?
    Pharmaceutical sales where they know they hype ailments to push a product?
    Tobacco or alcohol sales, the biggest killers in the country?
    How about a masters in finance and a penchant for roping in the poor?
    All perfectly legal, but claim more human lives and livelihoods than all the illegal drugs in Canada.

  • spartikus

    This chart (via the University of Delaware) measures dependence vs. physical harm. Which begs the question whether LP holds the clerks in beer & wine stores with the same disdain.

  • LP

    1) You will never remove demand LP, please look south of the border for confirmation of that.

    Ben, the problem with drugs aren’t the drugs. It’s the fact that people like yourself have decided that you can pick and chose whatever laws you like to follow and those you don’t, well hell I’ll do what the hell I please.

    By your reasoning we should then permit murder, rape and child abuse because well some people like to do that stuff as well.

    2) How about a masters in finance and a penchant for roping in the poor?

    I didn’t compare Paul to the likes of fraudsters that ripoff the savings of the elderly, I compared him to drug dealers which he was.

    3) All perfectly legal, but claim more human lives and livelihoods than all the illegal drugs in Canada.

    Since you’d like me to back up my statement about chemicals, why not back up this pathetic statement……didn’t think so.

    4) Which begs the question whether LP holds the clerks in beer & wine stores with the same disdain.

    Spartikus, as usual an asinine ignorant question you actually want no answer for. Frankly you don’t deserve the time I’ve spent typing this much.

    Society does not need to lighten laws, it needs people to respect them. If you don’t like them, run for office and work to change them.

    If not, your part of the problem and not the solution.

  • spartikus

    Spartikus, as usual an asinine ignorant question you actually want no answer for. Frankly you don’t deserve the time I’ve spent typing this much.

    Well that’s too bad. It’s a fair point I made – the drug Paul Hayden dealt in is less harmful and less habit-forming than the legal and socially acceptable drugs of alcohol and tobacco. This according to the science. Note you demanded Ben “back up this pathetic statement”, ignoring my comment which did.

  • spartikus

    Paul Hayden

    Haden. Apologies.

  • hohoho

    It’s thinking like LP’s that continues the “drug war” which costs taxpayers billions and solves nothing.

    Pharmaceutical companies kill far more people every year than illegal drugs do. Unless your zeal against drugs includes these chemicals, too, you’re statements are hypocritical and devoid of logic.

  • Jeannette M

    Regardless of what people up here say, I thought your article fascinated and enjoyed reading it.

    Regardless of where your opinions lie, it is a sad story.

  • 60’s Flashback

    I did not expect to unleash 30 years of emotional baggage on a political website.

    Here it goes.

    In the sixties my sister experimented with [ what she used to refer to expanded consciousness] drugs. She experimented a lot.She was a mess.What made things worse was in those days if first responders suspected you were lying in the park, street or alley because of drugs, they just left you there.They did not care. My sister never carried ID because she often carried drugs. On a couple of occassions good samaritans who stumbled upon my beautiful, tripped out sister got enough info. out of her to call my mom, who dutifully retrieved her in a cab. Still high, delusional and hallucinating when she got home I saw her hit her head against the wall for hours until the plaster was on the floor and the lathe was bare. My mother dutifully then wallpapered them. Twice she tried to kill my mother in front of me [I was 9 at that time] once by strangling her and once by trying to hit her over the head with a cast iron frying pan. When she came down she would leave again, no fixed address, no phone contact. Sometimes we’d catch a glimpse of her panhandling or hitch-hiking from the bus we rode.This is how she lived for a couple of years. Then she started to visit again.

    She was pregnant, she gradually looked and smelled cleaner. She was planning a home birth at the communal house she lived in and she finally consented to seeing a doctor. My niece was born two and a half months premature at 3lbs 4 oz. She survived but has struggled her whole life [38 yrs] with health issues, the most serious of these is mental illness. Depression and Bi-Polar Disorder . My heart breaks for her daily. I do believe she has suffered the most for her mother’s experimentation.

    My sister has been clean since and was a responsible and doting parent.She had to have major surgery several years ago and the anaesthetic triggered flashbacks. The doctor said that drugs like LSD change your brain permanently.

    I am aware of all the harmful toxins and free radicals we encounter in daily life but I think most of us avoid our exposure to them. We don’t encourage experimenting with them.

  • not running for mayor

    So if these pharamaceutical companies are killing more people then illegal drugs do as you claim, wouldn’t the answer be to go after them as well. Seems like a better solution then using them as a excuse to legalize something else that kills as well.
    Would be similar to the handgun manufacturers arguing that cars kill more people then handguns hence everyone 16yrs and older should be allowed to carry a handgun. See where this is going? Your arguement doesn’t hold water.

  • hohoho

    People do go after pharma companies, they get sued all the time for accidental deaths due to overdoses and harmful side-effects. They are also regulated by governments. How can you compare a naturally-growing plant like weed to a handgun??

    My point is, if drugs are to be illegal, then ALL drugs should be illegal, not just certain ones. Otherwise, all drugs need to be regulated just like alcohol, tobacco, etc.

    Also, every comment here assumes that everyone who uses drugs abuses drugs. People who abuse alcohol or tobacco also have terrible health problems. Fetal-alcohol syndrome causes far more birth defects than all the drugs combined.

    Did you know that human beings have many THC receptors embedded in their brains? This is why different strains of pot affect your brain differently. Humans have been ingesting mind-altering substances since the beginning of time. Good luck trying to put a stop it. It will never happen no matter how many billions of dollars you throw at it.

  • Stephanie

    LP wrote: “What matters is that from a very young age, he was taught by those parents that it was okay to disrespect the laws you disagree with, and it eventually cost him his life.”

    The end of the article makes it clear that he died of a heart arrhythmia. There’s no indication that his chemist activities had any role in his death.

    As for disrespecting laws you disagree with: sometimes we call that civil disobedience, and we valourize it.

  • Wagamuffin

    I thought I was going to be able to avoid this one, but I just can’t. We can only speculate, and I know that every life is layered and unique to that person.


    Let’s work backwards. Arrhythmia or not, Paul was cooking chemicals up in his apartment. A space in a building he shared with others. The chemicals he was batching were toxic–hence the arrival of Haz Mat to clean up after his death. Good guy, counter culture guru, whatever—this one act was incredibly selfish and shows a wanton disregard for anyone elses life or limbs. That speaks to character –there’s a recklessness there that broadcasts poor decision making.

    I was also interested in reading about his many changes of profession–free spirited experimenter or restless, anxiety-filled dilettante? Was this the only talent he felt he had and was he pandering to his friends so that he was accepted? And saying it was civil disobedience!? Valourize THIS?? Stephanie, this guy wasn’t Rosa Parks, for christ sake.

    Now, let’s get down to brass tacks. Food, booze, grass, coke, meth, heroin blah, blah, blah. What is it with our society that it has to self medicate itself constantly like this?

    I agree with Paul’s friend Alan’s remarks with regards to culpability—there’s lots to go around. Paul’s friends recreational (or serious) drug use helped bring about his demise. Nothing exists in isolation. They should feel guilty, even though it’s not fashionable to say so these days. I agree with LP—if people really wanted our drug laws to change they would be marching in the streets. Maybe they’re not so stoked about their own kids getting into meth or heroin or…

    And sorry, there’s book learning and then there’s street smarts: a father who’s a psychiatrist , who supports his son’s dodgy experimentation then enables this behaviour, is himself displaying a level of entitlement and narcissism that beggars belief.

    You know, there is such a thing as excess, even though some posters appear to feel that that is a borgeoise concept.

    In a perfect world, we could do whatever we wanted, without consequence. Until the laws of cause and effect cease to exist, sad stories like Paul’s will unfortunatley continue to repeat themselves.

    Judging? Yeah. Because we have to do that in order to survive. I just wish that Paul, who had the apparent love of so many people, who also seemed to be a ‘lost soul’,’ could have been a better judge of his own life and its worth.

    RIP, man.

  • Stephanie

    I’m speaking generally to the idea that disobeying drug laws might sometimes be appropriately characterized as civil disobedience. I’m not speaking to the obviously ridiculous risk he took in cooking up E in an apartment building. Not everyone who flouts the law for political reasons is Rosa Parks; I don’t really see the point of the comparison.

  • I wish he didn’t endanger others (by doing it in a residence adjacent to others).

    But I thought it was a neat little story.

    Hell, I love reading about the real scum of the earth, and I don’t gather this guy was that.

  • Len B

    The article Frances wrote and linked to was not about big pharma, alcohol or tobacco and the legitimacy of whether or not those drugs/products should be legal or not.

    The article was about a guy who was cooking chemicals in his apartment to manufacture illegal drugs with the intent to distribute those drugs. I can only assume FB wrote the article to show there were two sides to this man, which for some that knew him, were not aware of.

    I also believe there were two sides to the gangsters that are dying as well. Even members of the Hell’s Angels are said to be great guys, neighbors and fathers. Oh yeah right, they’re just a motorcycle club, why wouldn’t they be great guys. Just like Paul, right?

    For all of those so quick to defend Paul, I recommend each of you contact the owner of that apartment building and donate a portion of the funds you spend on recreational drugs to repaying the loss he suffered to fix his building.

    For that matter, perhaps an extra portion for the people without insurance that had to find alternative places to live while the suite was being stripped of the deadly toxins.

    And Stephanie, consuming illegal drugs is not civil disobedience. Not even close. Drugs are not necessary in any way, shape or form to live a decent life.

    I don’t take any and my life is fantastic. Should I feel sorry for you, if you need to take them to enjoy yours? Seems like a shame, really.

  • LP


    Your comment was not worth debating because my comment was not about whether alcohol and tobacco should be legal, and whether the people who sell them should be jailed.

    You Spartikus have a habit of stretching your comments beyond the limits of the conversation to try and make points you feel are worthy. Do you this this because you have nothing else to debate or as some sort of a ego trip?

    If you’d like to have a pissing contest I suggest we face off at high noon at city hall and see who can hit who from 10 paces.

    As long as tobacco is legal, then no we cannot jail those people. If it becomes illegal then yes, through away the bloody key.

    Let me repeat. The problem with society today is not the drugs. It is that people are deciding at random which laws suit them and which do not.

    That includes people like Paul Haden and gangsters like the Bacon Bros. To me there is not much difference other than the quality of the customers and territory each of them sell to/in.

    As long as people make decisions to break the law, and their parents at a young age encourage or supervise it, and then groups of people with a common purpose associate on that basis, society will continue to deteriorate while the rest of us debate what the solutions are.

    So are we on? High noon. City Hall.

  • not running for mayor

    Interesting choice of time “high” noon. I’ll watch from a window and post the results.

  • jaymac

    Agreed, it was an interesting and sad article. PH was a well educated guy. He made a choice to put those who he serviced at risk and likewise those who lived in his building. It strikes me that he was selfish and ill considerate and definitely not the Robin Hood that some might assume from FB’s article.

    LP and Wagamuffin are right on.

  • hohoho

    For the “legalize marijuana” naysayers, you’re being left behind in the dark ages, even many states in the US are considering legalization in order to raise tax revenue. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times article:

    “Betty Yee, chairwoman of the California Board of Equalization, the state’s tax collector, said that legal marijuana could raise nearly $1 billion per year via a $50-per-ounce fee charged to retailers. An additional $400 million could be raised via sales tax from marijuana sold to buyers.

    The law would also establish a “smoking age” — 21 — effectively putting marijuana in a similar regulatory class as alcohol or tobacco. Marijuana advocates argue that legalization could also decrease pressure on the state’s overburdened prison system and members of law enforcement.

    All of which, Ms. Yee said, at least makes the proposal worth talking about in a state with chronic budget problems and a law already on the books allowing the medical use of the drug.”

  • Jane

    A very sad loss.
    Someone who knew the importance of exploring and expanding the mind……
    I remember that sunny Sunday in Strathcona, but had no idea what was going on.
    RIP Paul.

  • Adam Wol

    Frances, I would like to thank you for finally offering the public an even-handed and thoughtful tribute to this man, who died doing the honorable task he loved. As a neighbour of his, I was aghast when the public was so outraged by what is in essence a very nuanced and morally-grey event. Many questions remain unanswered however, and perhaps a followup story is needed.

    First of all, he was clearly a man who was doing his part to fuel a new renaissance. The only question is, were the rifle and handgun they found in his apartment (along with liters upon litres of E) to protect him from the therapists, the artists, or the business professionals? Because as I understand it, he was a gentle and charitable philanthropist. Yet the last time I checked, Warren Buffett didn’t need multiple firearms to protect himself from the sick children he patrons.

    Secondly, how can we pay tribute to this man? Future generations must appreciate the beautiful and generous man who is no longer with us. Perhaps naming a wing of VGH after him would be fitting? After all, its hallways could someday be occupied by those who took part in his philanthropy (by unknowingly breathing in toxic fumes for extended periods of time). Furthermore, several of the individuals on the other side of his walls were in various stages of Medical School. Perhaps they would appreciate working in a place dedicated to the man whose greed, indifference for others, and utter incompetence as a chemist, nearly cut short their promising lives.

    Finally, and most importantly, how can us (his neighbours) send our condolences to those he left behind? I can only imagine how badly his friend the stripper is grieving, now that Paul and his drug-money are no longer patronizing her establishment. To what address can we send flowers for his parents, who helped shape him into the beautiful individual he was (mainly by giving a teenager psychedelic drugs on the condition that they get to watch). It is always the hardest to lose a child when you have done everything right…

    So please Frances, dedicated more paper to this god-like man whose life was cut short. It is true that the good die young, especially when their prolonged exposure to noxious chemicals leaves them at risk of fatal aneurysms…

    Best Wishes,

    Paul’s Loving Neighbour

  • Jane

    That was certainly a waste of space now wasn’t it?
    Do you feel better now Adam? Low blow.

  • D


    I am sure you had intentions of writing an accurate article… A few points must be made on your mistakes: Paul never smoked pot daily after work (as you quoted). He took his work as a lab technician very seriously…. so serious that his friends would give him a hard time when he would always leave events early to ensure he was in bed by 10pm because he was so committed to making sure his work was perfect.

    He was committed to being up to date on all his duties, taking his responsibility seriously and this never involved any pot other substance.

    One of Paul’s closest friends

  • MM

    Please, leave his parents, his family and his friends alone.

    Paul Haden was an adult and he made the choices with an adult’s point of view.

    Their loss is profound.

  • Wave

    As i read the banter of personal loss vs the loss Pauls actions caused others i reflect on reminders about life in general. We have all made mistakes..clearly Paul made many …..we seek our calling…some of us take risks(pushing to see how far they can go) and some stand close to their comfort zones. At times shit hits the fan…. The underground movement of mind expanding drugs will continue …..if some of his products open a soul to more compassion and kindness and forgiveness that’s a good thing. -Give time to what you believe is worth growing – it appears he did.

  • Wave

    oh and Talk – action = zero

  • Wag the Dog

    Paul was a great friend, and his loss has been devastating for our entire community of friends and family, especially the Haden’s. Anyone who was in attendance at Paul’s memorial realized very quickly that this man had deeply impacted many generations with his warmth, humour, generosity and special zeal for living life to it’s fullest.
    I feel the FB and her article does justice to Paul’s role in the tapestry of complex legal and emotionally strained issues that has been formally termed the “war on drugs” here in North America.
    Many comments above have strong opinions about drug prohibition and the “effects” of the illegal drug trade. My experience is that most opinions are based more on emotional reflex rather than facts; anecdotal hyperbole that inflates suspicion of “illegal” substances and underscores the hypocrisy that a great majority of Vancouverites use and abuse “legal” drugs such as liquor and refined tabacco, prescription drugs such as Zanax or Ritilin, not to mention sugar or caffeine.
    What is the difference?
    By rendering any natural substance illegal, and pursuing a policy of enforcement that serves the interest of the State above the interest of justice or social health, creates the negative feedback loop where predators and crime networks will flourish, very similar to the issues of liquor prohibition in the twenties. How many prominent Vancouver families made their fortune selling liquor across the border during this time?? How many Mansions on SW Marine drive were bought with liquor profits and had secret tunnels to the North arm of the Fraser? Explore the local archives and read about those days…and it’s not hard to expose the hypocrisy and futile nature of an enforcement only approach. It is any wonder that dozens of police chiefs, ex Secretary’s of State and other high profile public citizens have publicly called for an end to the war of drugs as soon as possible? Scan newspaper articles in the journalism database under legalization of drugs and supporters and it is amazing how many high profile citizens have called for an end to this prohibition.

    I feel strongly that any naturally created substance such as MDMA, opiates and THC cannot be outlawed as they are a part of the natural world. (Some of the precursor chemicals for Ecstatsy come from bark and natural oils).

    I feel just as strongly that Drugs made from poisons such as sulfuric acid that form the base of Crystal Meth should be outlawed and taught to children as being dangerous because they are! Damage to young minds is irreversible and quick. Only by acknowledging that there is a significant difference between relatively safe drugs (Pot, MDMA) and very harmful drugs (Meth, Crack) can addicted users and youth understand that this a complex issue and not a white wash. It’s just not going to work when you tell your grade 8 kid that smoking pot is going to lead to brain damage and is in the same class of danger as Crystal Meth. They have most likely tried a hit of pot after school and know that you are full of it.

    It is our job as informed and progressive citizens to demand that such organic substances be regulated, inspected, taxed and have those proceeds fund education about self-esteem and health related choices for all victims of addictive personalities and abuse.

    Vancouver, and Canada, deserves a fair and fundamentally new approach to understanding and treating addictive behaviour (gambling, tv watching, gaming, sugar treats, pot smoking to excess) ….not more fear, repression and misconceptions about organic drugs and their rightful place as a part of the celebration of life.

    Finally, anyone who thinks that do doing pills every weekend at the Lotus is a good idea has just a big a problem as a compulsive gambler or someone who watches 27 – 32 hours of TV a week (the national average!)
    Let’s be honest about what is really going on in our communities and stop blaming others when we ought to try and be gentle with understanding ourselves first and then our neighbours second.

  • Mark Slaney

    Nice guy a little rough around the edges but otherwise quite pleasant .