It happened this week in 1915

Sept. 18 - 24: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Sept. 18 – 24: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

McGill on trial … The trial of Hugh McGill, helper in the employ of the C.P.R. shops, charged with the murder of Samuel G. Watson, a member of the 11th C.M.R.’s, Vernon, but formerly brakeman on the Crow, came to a close Tuesday afternoon.

Probably never in the history of Cranbrook has such intense interest and excitement prevailed in a criminal case as during the progress of this trial. At each and every hearing the court room was crowded, every available seat being occupied, while a large number were obliged to stand.

Monday afternoon at 2:30 the court convened with Judge Arnold and Justice of the Peace Hill sitting on the case. A. B. Macdonald, acting for the city, asked for an adjournment until Tuesday morning at 9:30, stating that plans of the scene of the tragedy were being prepared and would not be available until the following morning. Mr. Fisher, of Fernie, counsel for accused, agreed to the adjournment, and asked if bail could be arranged. Judge Arnold said it could not be considered.

Chief of Police Adams announced court adjourned until Tuesday morning at 9:30 p.m. During the hearing Dave Watson, brother of the victim of the tragedy, was taken ill in the court room and was led out by Chief of Police Adams and Policeman Harrigan.

Tuesday morning the court assembled at the appointed hour, with every inch of available space occupied by interested spectators.

J. G. Cummings, architect, was the first witness called. He testified to drawing the plans of the McGill home, and stated he was a qualified architect and draftsman. The plans were drawn to scale. The verandah post, against which Watson is said to have received the blow which ended so fatally, was brought into court and placed as an exhibit. A board from the verandah showing stains was also set up as an exhibit. Cross-questioned by Mr. Fisher, Mr. Cummings admitted he was not an expert on blood, but said he knew blood when he saw it.

He (Cummings) admitted the plans were drawn five days after the accident.

Dr. King was the next witness called. The doctor’s evidence was the same as given at the coroner’s inquest Thursday evening last. He described his visit to the home of the accused, where he dressed the wounds of Watson and had him removed to the hospital. He stated the wound on the nose of deceased required two or three stitches to close. The wound on the ear was a ragged cut, about an inch in length, while that of the left temple was angular in shape and about two inches long. Death was due to hemorrhage on the right side of the brain.

Questioned further by Mr. Macdonald Dr. King stated the wound may have been caused by a blunt object.

Counsel for accused and city here caused a scene. Solicitor Macdonald saying Fisher was playing to the gallery. During the cross-examination of Dr. King counsel for the crown used the word “blow” to the dislike of counsel for the accused, who insisted “wound” was the proper word.

Chief of Police Adams was next called and corroborated statements made at the coroner’s hearing Thursday evening. He was called upon to produce the cap and riding crop of deceased, which were marked as exhibits. The photograph of Mrs. McGill, together with letters found on Watson, were also produced in court. One of the letters concluded thusly: “Lots of love and kisses from Nellie.”

Constable Venus, sworn, gave evidence along the same lines as at the coroner’s hearing. He was questioned by counsel for accused as to statements made by accused. Mr. Fisher wanted to know whether the statements made were voluntary. He pressed Constable Venus for an explanation. The policeman stated accused made the statement “It was coming to him” on French Avenue.

In the office of the chief at about 7.15 the accused was brought in and told of the death of Watson. He then made the statement “it was coming to him. It was in self-defence.”

It being near the noon hour, the court adjourned until 2 o’clock. Chief Adams was the only witness called at the afternoon session. He produced the clothing of the late Samuel Watson. Asked if he made a statement at the coroner’s trial that he (McGill) struck Watson with his fist, the chief said he did not remember making such statement.

This concluded the evidence. Counsel for both city and accused entered their pleas, going into the details of the case. Mr. Fisher asked that the charge be reduced from murder to manslaughter. This was refused. Sufficient evidence was produced, in the opinion of the judges, to warrant committing the accused to stand his trial.

It was reported Tuesday had McGill been released on bail, some $15,000.00 could have been furnished. When a charge of murder is preferred against a man and the court cannot see its way clear to reducing the nature of that charge, then bail cannot be granted.

McGill was taken to Nelson today by Constable Collins, where he will be held until the fall assizes open, which will open at Fernie on October 18th.

Forced vacation … Chris. Richardson will spend the next thirty days the guest of the province.

It happened this way: W. E. Worden has always enjoyed the reputation of having for sale bone-dry cordwood. Everybody likes Worden’s wood —it splits so easy. Besides it is easier to deliver the kind kept in stock.

Chris, like the general public, also liked Worden’s wood, and helped himself to three loads of it, stacked just outside of the city. Sunday morning at 7 o’clock, while Cranbrook was in slumber land, a little bird tapped at the bedroom window of the owner of the wood, and shortly after Chris was grabbed by the clutches of the mighty law, woodpile and all. He came before Justice of the Peace Hill Monday morning and received one calendar month, in which time he may have cut many cords from the primeval forests.

Chris will spend a forced vacation in Nelson, the lakeside city.

Off to Nelson … James Ellis, the “Diamond Kid”; Charles LeDuke, who escaped from the city prison by sawing away the bars; Chris. Richardson, who was sentenced to thirty days for helping himself to another man’s woodpile, and Hugh McGill, charged with the murder of Samuel Watson, were taken to Nelson today by Constable Collins, where they will be held until the assizes meet.

To be deported … Elgin Fitch, who was picked up by Constable Arden at Moyie last week, came up for hearing before Justice of the Peace E. A. Hill last Friday and was sentenced to three months in Nelson Jail with a recommendation that he be deported into the United States, from whence he came, as soon as his sentence expires. He was taken to Nelson on Saturday. The authorities are of the opinion that Mr. Fitch has several rats in his garret and is therefore an undesirable citizen.


Town visitor … Fred J. Smyth was a visitor in the city this week. Mr. Smyth is editor of the Similkameen Star, a breezy little paper published at Princeton. In the palmy days of Moyie, when the St. Eugene mine was running full blast, employing four hundred men, Mr. Smyth conducted the Moyie Leader. Mr. Smyth was also a member of the Herald staff, where he performed all the duties of a country printer, from sweeping out the office to editing the paper.

Coyote curse … Coyotes are becoming a source of menace to public safety in the neighborhood of Cranbrook. Very few, if any, are being killed.

Mrs. J. Willard, who lives in the Alkali lake district, reports that her son, Hugh Allan, saw no less than three one morning while on his way to school. Last winter he was chased by one of these prowlers of the forest. Sunday evening no less than three coyotes accompanied ye editor down the hill from his farm. It is not a very pleasant sensation to have these animals snapping and snarling almost at one’s heels.

Cases are reported where they have paid regular visits in broad daylight to the chicken coops of people living next the city limits. To the average person living on a farm the music of the coyote is not very cheery. His shrill note usually sends a chill down one’s back. A. B. Smith caught a coyote Saturday, bringing in the skin today to receive his bounty of $3.00. Something must be done to check the forward march of this army, which, judging by their weird and hideous noise at nights, must number three million trained voices.

Sad funeral … Sunday afternoon the grave closed over the saddest event that has happened within the city in many years, when the funeral of the late Samuel Watson took place.

Services were held at the family residence, Slaterville, Rev. W. K. Thomson, pastor of Knox Presbyterian church, performing the last rites.

The funeral partook of a military nature, the deceased being a member of the 11th C. M. R.’s, Vernon. Twelve members of the 107th East Kootenay Regiment under command of Lieut. Venus, composed a firing party, while two trumpeters from Fernie sounded the “Last Post.”

At the graveside the most pathetic sight man ever gazed on, was witnessed by a tear-dimmed audience.

The stillness of that autumn afternoon will long be remembered by many. The aged mother of deceased, well up in the seventies, stood beside the grave as the body was lowered, weeping bitterly and whispering the name of her boy. There are many races and tongues of men, but the sobs of mothers speak but one language.

Christmas gifts to the front … At the meeting of the St. John Ambulance Association it was decided to try and send to every man who has enlisted from Cranbrook some knitted article for Christmas. This will mean between 400 and 500 articles, and we would earnestly ask all those ladies in the district to help them in this big undertaking. The society will have a quantity of wool in for socks and scarfs, as these two articles are preferred, by the men.

Anyone applying for wool at Miss McLeod’s can also obtain instructions for the scarfs. Would any ladies who have steel needles belonging to the society, which they are not using, kindly return them to Miss McLeod, so they may be distributed again. Donations of money will be gladly accepted, as it is intended, if possible, to enclose in each parcel a package of tobacco.


Final meeting … The annual meeting of the Sunshine Society was held in the council chamber on Wednesday afternoon and the work of the past year was reviewed. The officers decided to disband and hope to make arrangements with the I. O. D. E. to carry on the work necessary for the coming year.

School wins high honors … The following class — division 2 — of the Central Public school, taught by R. S. Shields, B. A., winners of the Strathcona Trust first prize of $35.00 (Victoria) for the school year ending June 26th, 1915. Elsie Beattie, Muriel Baxter, Gladys Brooks, Beryl Cameron, Jennie Hopkins, Grace McFarlane, Gladys Parnaby, Agnes Reekie, Dorothy Reed, Margaret St. Eloi, Rosie Sarvis, Lottie Moore, Josephine Severe, Willie Atchison, Charlie Armstrong, Melville Dallas, Clarence Hickenbotham, Harold Leask, Horatio Jecks, Grenville Musser, John Noble, Fred Swain, Orvil Thompson, Gordon Taylor, Francis Cadwallader, Barlay McNeil, Alfred Sindall.

Thus the winning of the Strathcona Trust first prize is a fitting climax for the work of this class for the year. When it is known that this class competed against all the schools of this inspectorate, which includes Nelson, Fernie, Kaslo, Creston, Michel and other smaller schools, and the prize awarded from the reports of two different inspectors, namely, Messrs. Bruce and Hope.

Marks being allotted when inspecting physical training as follows: 20 per cent being allowed for discipline, orderliness and cleanliness during the ordinary school work as well as during physical exercises; 35 per cent for the performance of physical exercises of prescribed text book, and 45 per cent for general physique and health of the room.

Reviewing the work of this class for the year, noting the progress and results, it must be very pleasing to the parents who have children members of this class.

It would also seem to be a matter of great satisfaction to the school board, who have already shown their confidence in Mr. Shields by promoting him to the position of principal, and now see their judgment backed up by two of the leading school inspectors of the province. Mr. R. Shields is a graduate in arts from McMaster University, Toronto; special in history, botanical economy, sociology and education. He was assistant principal and taught in division 2 of the Central school last year and upon the resignation of Principal Garrard was promoted to the principalship, taking with that post the high school entrance class. His class of last year was also promoted, hence he will carry them right through to the high school. Mr. Shields is a young man of high moral character, a first-class disciplinarian, a lover of his work, full of energy and bound to become one of the leading educationists of the province. Cranbrook is very fortunate in having a man of his stamp for principal of their public schools.


Wardner dance … A patriotic dance in aid of Red Cross funds was given at the Library hall, Wardner, on Wednesday evening. The Kootenay orchestra of Cranbrook was in attendance and they report a large crowd in attendance and a good time furnished. A splendid supper was served at midnight. Dancing continued until an early morning hour. A large number from Bull River were in attendance. The dance was the most enjoyable held in Wardner for a long time. The citizens expect to give another in the course of a couple of weeks.

Poultry Association … The Cranbrook Poultry association held its regular monthly meeting in the council chambers on Friday evening last, there being a good sized turn­out of members.

Secretary Dicks read the minutes of previous meeting, which were approved. Hereafter the association will be known as the “Cranbrook Poultry Association.” The “Pet Stock” will be dropped from the title name. Subscriptions will date one year from the date of issue. Example: If John Brown joins the association on September 23rd, 1915, his subscription will expire September 23rd, 1916. Heretofore a member joining at this time of year would be given a receipt to the end of 1916.



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