Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Author Tammy Lynn Tipler-Priolo copyright 27 July 2009

Most of us will find in our genealogical journey, a string of law-abiding ancestors that worked as farmers, labourer and such. We might even find the occasional death by a disease such as Tuberculosis or Diphtheria or accident. My Great Great Grandmother Angelique was killed by a train in her late 40s in 1884. My Great Aunt Georgina died at the age of twelve from Diphtheria and my Great Aunt Margaret died of an Epileptic Seizure at fourteen years of age. My Great Uncle Claude died at 27 years old when the dam he was working in was filled with water; his body was never recovered. My Great Uncle Alfred died of Meningitis at the age of 30 and my Great Great Uncle Charles died when a tree he was chopping down fell on him.

Murder was suspected when my grandmother’s cousin and his wife disappeared in the late 1950’s from their cottage; it was only recently discovered that they had drowned with their bodies preserved in the cold depths of the lake. However, murder did happen in my family tree. This murder took place in the cold month of February in 1952. An on going feud between my Great Uncle Arthur and a reclusive neighbour ended in the shooting of this uncle. The story hit the local newspaper and covered in great detail the events that had occurred that cold and wintry day. The neighbour was taken into custody right away in a peaceful manner.

With curiosity in my veins, I wanted to know more about the man who had killed my uncle. The paper had said he was a veteran from both great wars. He altered his age by 18 years and dyed his hard dark as to gain entry into WWII. He was born in England and immigrated to Canada as a young man. He had been married and had two children. He lived on his own for several years and was quiet according to the neighbours.

On further investigation, I found that he had two daughters. His wife had died in the 1920s. He was born in Scarborough Yorkshire England and his father was a Confectioner, Bookseller, Publisher and Insurance agent. His father had been married twice and he was the son of the second wife. His maternal grandfather had been a Surgeon and had also been married twice to two sisters, the first being his maternal grandmother. Whatever possessed him to fire those fatal shots at my uncle, one can only conclude that he was not in the right frame of mind.

Assumptions arise as to how the murder trial had gone, but what truly happened still needs answers. Now a search through the local papers would be a good start, but not knowing when the court case appeared, that would be several months of searching. I turned to a google search on this murder case and after 30 minutes of searching, I came upon what I needed, but did not know that it had existed until that moment. I had located the inventory of case files in the fonds of the Department of Justice for persons sentenced to death in Canada 1867-1976. Note that the death penalty had been abolished in Canada in 1976. Check it out for yourselves at http://data2.archives.ca/pdf/pdf001/p000001052.pdf .

In this document, you will find a list of reference numbers that apply to each person sentenced to death for murder. A description of the convicted is also given such as racial origin, age, birthplace, occupation and marital status. The trial dates are also included; ah, the newspaper search will be much easier now. You will also find a list of the victims of these murders as well as details on how they were killed and the result of the trial. Reference to various items in the file such as correspondence, petitions, transcript of evidence, fingerprints, photos, maps, coroner’s inquests, etc. are also mentioned. These files are apparently kept at the Library and Archives of Canada, but not all files are open for public viewing and are under the Access to Information and Privacy Act. I am still in the process of trying to piece together the life of my uncle’s murderer, as I still have some unanswered questions that have arisen during my quest. Finding out “who dun it” was easy, understanding how a person makes such a decision to take another’s life may never be revealed.

Happy Hunting!!


Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PLCGS
The Ancestor Investigator is also the Ancestor Whisperer!