Saturday, December 01, 2007
My theory that the Irish comprised a larger population of the town than surrounding township proved false for the 1851 census, but may prove true for the 1911 population. This census data took into account a much smaller geographical area than the 1851 census.
Other census sub-districts took into account, for example, Bervie village, and even other areas of the town of Kincardine itself, which were included all on the same census in 1851. Is sub-district 28 representative of the entire town and township? Without being able to locate which area of town sub-district 28 has collected data from or without counting responses from at least 9 more census sub-districts, I'm not sure I'll find out.
 after tallying census column 14 "Racial or tribal origin"
Saturday, November 24, 2007
So I've been wondering about how Scottish our town's roots really are and wanted to confirm the Scottish heritage of our town founders. William Withers and Allan Cameron were dropped off on what is now Kincardine's Station beach, in the spring of 1848 - the first settler's in what became Kincardine and in the whole county of Bruce.
This task proved more challenging than I anticipated. While William Withers remained in the village, and recorded his birthplace on both the 1851 and 1871 census, Allan Cameron is nowhere to be found.
Looking for other sources who may make note of Cameron, I found Wib. McLeod's 1948 article "Lest We Forget" (published in the Kincardine News): "Allan Cameron had followed his chosen career as a business man and merchant and took a keen and active interest in the growth of the community he had helped found." It seems likely then that Cameron, known as "The Black Prince" because of his dark complexion*, stayed in the community (then called Penetangore) yet evaded the 1851 census takers.
I was excited to conclude that the town founders were half-Scot, when McLeod notes that "the dour and doughty Scot, Cameron" provided refuge and hospitality and the home and tavern he shared with Withers.
* Norman Robertson, History of the County of Bruce, 1906: 26.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
The Sheriff then examined the fatal apparatus; the masked executioner did his work; and the body dropped within the gaol wall, depriving the gaping and motley crowd, some of them women with children in their arms, of the awful spectacle of the body quivering on the rope for a few minutes, perhaps five of six. A number of people were inside the wall and saw the whole [The Globe, 16 December 1868].
At this point I was concerned that perhaps a the Melady hanging at our Huron County gaol may have also only been 'semi-public' and maybe not the last officially public hanging. I was found The Globe article on the Melady hanging [though blurry to read], which states that Melady was taken from " the northern exit of the prison, ascended a temporary staircase, and took his position on the scaffold, which was on a level with the prison wall" and suggests that the hanging was entirely public.
However, there is always the possibility that though Melady ascended the stairs to the gallows publicly, because the scaffold was level with the prison wall, the trap could have been on the opposite side of the wall, and he could have dropped out of public view. It seems unlikely however that, as I mentioned in a previous post, both the Seaforth Expositor and The Globe would have made reference to it as the last public hanging if it was only 'semi-public' like the Hoag hanging.
We hope in the name of God - in the name of humanity - that capital punishment may soon be abolished in this 'our Canada,' and placed where it ought to be, with the grim relics of barbarous times.
Friday, July 20, 2007
People argued that public hangings should end for many reasons, and the 'hanging crowd' was a significant reason. People complained about rowdy crowds that showed up to watch hangings. When public hangings ended in England, the Times of London reported:
We shall not in the future have to read how, the night before the execution, thousands of the worst characters in England, abandoned women and brutal men, met beneath the gallows to pass the night in drinking in buffoonery, in ruffianly swagger and obscene jest.
Many polite Victorians felt that ending public hangings would advance civilization and they themselves felt uncomfortable watching hangings; at the same time they found the rowdy crowds' fascination with death, obscene language and gestures, and disrespect for authority embarrassing.
What I was most surprised to find that was by ending public hangings, the perpetuation of the death penalty was actually ensured. If people did not have to deal with the crowd, they would no longer have a reason to protest hangings. By making the hangings private, the death penalty could continue.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
- Executions were to be carried out within the walls oft he prison in which the offender was confined at the time of execution
- Executions should take place at 8 am
- Hanging should continue to be the mode of execution
- A black flag was to be raised after an execution and remain up for one hour
- The prison bell (or the bell of a neighbouring church) was to ring for 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after an execution
After receiving a copy of "Act 32-33 Victoria c. 29" from the Library of Parliament it's clear that Section 109 of the Act, which went into effect 1 January 1870, is actually the legislation ending public hanging, declaring:
"Judgment of death to be executed on any prisoner after the coming into force of this Act, shall be carried into effect within the walls of the prison in which the offender is confined at the time of execution."
Thursday, June 21, 2007
The hanging of Patrick Whelan at the Carleton County Jail on February 11 1869 for the assassination of MP and Father of Confederation D'Arcy McGee [left] is mistakenly claimed to be the last public hanging in Canada. Ten months later, on December 7, 1869, Nicholas Melady was hanged in Goderich at the Huron District Gaol for the murder of his father and step-mother. A recently published book detailing the crime and hanging, by Melady's descendant John Melady, is titled Double Trapped: Canada's Last Public Hanging.
However - in 1869, Canada only included the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Hangings continued in public in areas that had not yet entered Confederation, such as the prairie provinces and BC.
While hangings were performed behind prison walls, the public was often still able to watch.
- The Sheriff could and often did invite interested spectators and newspaper reporters.
- Spectators were known to climb any nearby structure that would allow them to see into the yard. At the Montreal execution of Timothy Candy in 1910, dozens of people viewed the hanging from the roofs of adjoining houses. In this photo of the 1904 execution of Stanislau Lacroix in Hull, you can see the crowds on the nearby rooftops and telephone poles.
- Crowds of excited spectators were hard to stop. In March 1899, 2,000 uninvited guests stormed a Montreal gaol to witness a hanging, joining the 200 witnesses already inside the prison yard.
- The law was not always followed.
- The hanging scaffold was sometimes built taller than the prison walls to allow for public viewing.
An elderly museum patron noted several years earlier that he recalls watching gallows being built in public in Hamilton while riding the streetcar. Was this a case where the gallows were built higher than the prison walls to allow curious spectators a view? or was the law simply ignored? I'm not sure I can claim for certain that the hanging of Melady in Dec. 1869 was the last public hanging even in the provinces within Confederation at the time.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
"Now at night when I lie down," he said, "I start up with a roar as victim after victim comes up before me. I can see them on the trap, waiting a second before they meet their Maker. They haunt me and taunt me until I am nearly crazy with an unearthly fear."
The agony of the executioner; How a Parkdale man became our first official hangman and was destroyed by it. By Patrick Cain; [ONT Edition]
PATRICK CAIN Patrick Cain. Toronto Star. Toronto, Ont.: May 20, 2007. pg. D.4