Sunday, 7 September 2014

Gun Play, Tar and Feathering, and Other Stories


Accidental Shooting at the Aneroid Hotel


Anderoid Hotel, 1914. Source
In December of 1914, Constable Buck of the Royal North West Mounted Police was in Aneroid on business, staying at the Aneroid Hotel. Newly married just two weeks before, Buck wanted to visit his good friend Bertrand Gossett who worked at the hotel. The two men were both from nearby Vanscoy.  Once he was off duty, the policeman went into the hotel bar to see Gossett, who was working as the bartender.  Gossett asked his friend if he could see his gun. Constable Buck took off his belt and holster and laid them on the bar. As he took his gun from its holster and passed it across the counter, the gun discharged. Gossett fell to the floor behind the bar, killed instantly by a gunshot wound to his head. Sources: Morning Leader and Aneroid: The Rising Barometer (1980), p. 10. 


The "Rabbit Cafe" at the Bulyea Hotel

Hans Johnson built a hotel in Bulyea in 1906. It was situated close to a poplar bluff that was full of "an endless supply" of rabbits. Johnson's daughters used to stand out on the doorstep of the hotel with 22 rifles and pick off rabbits for fresh meat. "The oldtimers used to relate how rabbits showed up on the menu disguised in so many ways that they were never quite sure what they were eating," the Bulyea history book says. The Bulyea Hotel's dining room got to be referred to as the Rabbit Cafe. Source: Between Long Lake and Last Mountain: Bulyea, Duval, Strasbourg, Vol. 1 (1982), p. 194.


Tar and Feathering at the Langenburg Hotel

On a warm Saturday evening in early August of 1937, Henry Jackson went swimming with a married woman, Mrs. Mary Ann Berger, owner of the Langenburg Hotel. When they returned to the hotel, the two were accosted by four masked men who began smearing Jackson with tar. Jackson, "advanced in years," fought back, ripping the mask off one of the men. Mrs. Berger, who was in her late 50s, went into the hotel and emerged swinging a heavy club. The four men fled, and were later charged with aggravated assault. Source The hotel, once called the Imperial, had been built by Mary Ann's husband Richard Berger, who died in 1916. Mary Ann, who had four children from her marriage to Richard, never remarried

Rum Runners at the Cadillac Hotel

Prohibition-era postcard. Source

Robert and Annie Stanley bought the 3-storey Cadillac Hotel in 1920. As Prohibition was in full force in Saskatchewan, the Stanley's turned the dining room into a general store. The former bar became a warehouse of the store. The Stanley's son Robert Jr. recalled that running the hotel was a real adventure. "Rum runners from the States came up through the prairie trails from Montana and stayed at the hotel. They loaded their cars [with bootleg liquor] and set off for the south, usually on a Sunday morning. ... I remember one of the bootleggers in particular would arrive with his wife and a couple of children who would act as a camouflage for the liquor. He was a fantastic jazz piano player. When he was in town the word soon spread and it was a night for dancing. Then came word that he had been killed in a gun battle with revenuers [US federal revenue agents involved in liquor law enforcement]." Source: Cadillac:A Prairie Heritage (1987), p. 226.

Off the Rails in Redvers

Bird's eye view of Redvers, no date. Source

In 1936, when P.R. and Sadie Johnson bought the King's Hotel in Redvers, the place was closed and boarded up. No sooner had the couple cleaned the place up and reopened the hotel for business, then a disaster - or perhaps a windfall - occurred. On May 2, 1936, one mile west of town, a freight train jumped the rails. Twenty-three cars left the track, killing one of the many hobos who rode the rails during the Depression years. Within hours, scores of railway men from the eastern and western divisional points (Souris, Manitoba and Arcola) arrived to clear the track. As a result, the King's Hotel was full to capacity for several days, with many of the railway men sleeping on the floor. The Johnson's hotel business was off to a good start. Source: Redvers, 75 Years Live (1980), p. 15.

© Joan Champ 2014

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