Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Justice Denied?

Here is another photo of the home of James A. Benzies at 1488 West 32nd. It was taken by Leonard Frank in 1923. He also took the following photos of the home's interior at the same time.
The Scottish Societies were quite irate with the now murder of Janet Smith. They lobbied Vancouver MLA Mary Ellen Smith to introduce legislation that would prohibit employers from hiring white women and Orientals as servants in the same household. Smith actually introduced the so-called Janet Smith bill in November of that year. (This bill was actually an amendment to the Women's and Girls' Protection Act of 1923.)

Provincial Attorney General Alexander Manson concluded that the bill was likely to be found ultra vires - invalid - and it died on the floor.
As what happens in cases such like this, things died down. For a while at least until a shocking incident made the case newsworthy once again.

On March 20, 1925,  a group of men dressed in the robes of the Klu Klux Klan - KKK - came to the Baker residence and kidnapped Wong Foon Sing. They took Wong to a house where for six weeks he was tortured him to confess and give more information on Smith's death.

It was later revealed that these men were actually operatives hired by the Scottish Societies as well as a couple of off duty constables. In addition, it also became known that Manson knew where Wong was. He didn't say anything because he hoped that the mystery would soon be solved. Needless to say, this had a negative impact on the politician's promising career.
This series of photographs are of the gardens at the Hycroft, taken in 1927 by Leonard Frank. I have written on this mansion before.
The kidnappers released Wong on May 1 and he was promptly arrested by the Point Grey police for the murder of Janet Smith. The Chinese Benevolent Society hired a prominent lawyer, John Harold Senkler, to defend Sing. The case was thrown out in October due to lack of evidence and Wong later returned to China.

Three of his kidnappers were imprisoned for their role in the abduction and torture. However, two police commissioners, M.B. Jackson and reeve James Alexander Paton were acquitted.

Theories have emerged about what happened to the nanny. One was that there was a wild party at the Baker house and that bachelor playboys had raped and murdered the young woman. Another explanation, posed by Edward Starkins, author of the 1984 book Who Killed Janet Smith, is that F.L. Baker was a drug smuggler and his activities led to Smith's death.

So was Janet murdered? Or did she commit suicide? I doubt we will ever know and this a murder that will tantalize sofa detectives for years to come.
 This is a photo I took of the headstone purchased by the United Council of Scottish Societies for Janet Smith. It is at Mountain View Cemetery.

Leonard Frank took this photo on October 28, 1928 of the Pacific Meat Co at 8950 Shaughnessy Street. You can see the Fraser River in the background.
This 1922 photo of 3690 Selkirk Street was taken by Leonard Frank.
Shaughnessy Golf Club in September 1926. Photo was taken by Stuart Thomson.

The Dominion Photo Co is responsible for this September 21, 1921 photo of the Shaughnessy Substation.

I promised to let you know how my free promotion went and here are the stats:

Missing Flowers: US—2528, UK—121, DE—12, FR—1, ES—2, IT—2, CA—17
The Bond: US-1014, UK-166, DE-15, FR-2, ES-1, IT-2, CA-18
Mystique Rising: US-387, UK-25, DE-4, ES-1, CA-2

Thanks to everyone who helped.

All the photos are from the Vancouver Public Library Collection and the information is from The Directory of Canadian Biography Online

I hope you find the beauty around you.

November 13, 1923 was when the Dominion Photo Co took this picture of the interior of the See House Chapel.

Northeast Corner of Homer and Hastings Streets as seen through the lens of the Dominion Photo Co pre 1920.
Philip Timms took this photo of the Peace Arch at the Canada - United States border. It was dedicated in 1921 so this photo is from the 20s or 30s.

Daytime shot of the Peace Arch taken around the same time.

, , , , , , , ,,

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's Murder!

Leonard Frank took this photo in 1920 of telephone poles at the Capilano Timber Company Limited.

Leonard Frank took this 1920 photo of visiting C.P.R. agents on a logging train at the Capilano Timber Company. 
A 1925 shot of Jericho Beach, taken by Leonard Frank.

In 1922, Leonard Frank was on hand to catch this photo of a plane crash in the water off Point Grey. 

Today I am going to continue with my narration of the death of Janet Smith.

When we last left this tale, Janet's death had been ruled a suicide. Several of Smith's friends didn't believe that conclusion and started a movement. They contacted Vancouver's United Council of Scottish Societies and Presbyterian church leaders concerned with the moral perils facing immigrant girls and those organizations sent telegrams to provincial attorney general Alexander Malcolm Manson, demanding the case be reopened.

Another photo taken by Leonard Frank of the 1922 plane crash.
This was taken by Philip Timms, sometime in the 1920s, of the S.S. Capilano.

A 1921 photo of Magee High School (formerly Point Grey High School) taken by Leonard Frank.
Frank Leonard took this photo of homes in Point Grey in 1921.

Vancouver Star editor, Victor Wentworth Odlum, began publishing stories about this now suspicious death and he wasn't shy about his views that the police bungled the investigation. Intense interest was aroused among the citizens and many had a culprit fingered for the nanny's death - Wong Foon Sing.

Smith's friends were quick to relate that Janet was afraid of Sing and feared that he would one day kill her. Her diary however told a different story. Janet was well aware of the effect that she had on the young houseboy and she clearly enjoyed the attention and the lavish gifts bestowed on her like the silk nightdress Sing gave her.

Leonard Frank took this 1927 photo of the Vancouver Daily Star building at 303 West Pender.
Another photo taken of the Vancouver Daily Star. This was taken in 1929 by Stuart Thomson. (this photo is from the City of Vancouver archives)

A photo of some wood frame houses in Point Grey. Taken in 1921 by Leonard Frank.
On July 12, 1928, Frank Leonard took this photo of a house at 4641 Bellevu in Point Grey.

Public pressure was mounting and the body of Janet Smith was exhumed and a second autopsy was performed. The result? Smith had been murdered.

The Scottish Societies continued to apply pressure to the government in order to find the person responsible for this horrendous crime, for the murder of this innocent Scottish girl. Manson hired a special prosecutor, Malcolm Bruce Jackson, to solve this mystery and find out what happened to this 'young Scotswoman of blameless character'.

The press was all over this story, depicting Janet as a sweet, innocent girl from the old country and the stories were full of speculation. The Janet Smith murder - and suspected police cover up - outraged many citizens. Someone had to pay.

These men and women were at 2890 Point Grey Road when Leonard Frank took this photo on August 15, 1929.

On March 28, 1923 Leonard Frank took this photo of the Point Grey golf and country club.
This photo dates back to July 23, 1923 when Leonard Frank took a picture of the clubhouse and course at the Jericho Golf Links.

Leonard Frank took this photo from the rooftop of Pool Elevator 1 on June 19, 1929.

Wednesday I will tell you more about Janet Smith and her much publicized murder. I will also tell you the results of my free promotion.

All these photos except the one mentioned are from the Vancouver Public Library collection.

The information on the Janet Smith murder came from The Directory of Canadian Biography Online.
Philip Timms took this photo in the 1930s from the top of Grouse Mountain.
I hope you find the beauty around you.

, , , , , , , ,,

Friday, March 22, 2013

Death of a Nanny

This home is at 3689 Selkirk in Shaughnessy. The photo was taken in 1922 by Leonard Frank.

Another angle of the same house and taken at the same time by the same photographer.
3690 Cypress. Taken in 1923 by Frank Leonard.

Frank Leonard took this photo of 1488 West 32nd in 1923.

Janet Kennedy Smith was born on June 25, 1902 in Perth, Scotland. At the age of 11, Janet finished school and got a certificate to be a nursemaid. In January 1923, Janet was hired by Doreen and Frederick Lefevre Baker. The Bakers were a Vancouver couple living in Kensington. F.L. was in the import business and his dealings took him to Paris before the family - including Janet - came home to Vancouver. Smith was enticed by the promise of a ticket home and a monthly salary of $30.
Another photo taken by Frank Leonard in 1923. It is of the roof of the above home on West 32nd. James A. Benzies resided here at the time.
Yet another look at the home of James A. Benzies.
Frank Leonard took this photo of 5007 Angus Drive in 1925.
This is a 1925 photo of Glen Brae, aka Tait House. It was taken by Frank Leonard. At one time, this was home to the Klu Klux Klan. I have written on 1690 Matthews Street before.

The Bakers, along with the Scottish nursemaid, moved into a house in the West End. This location gave Smith easy access to Stanley Park and she would often take the baby for strolls through the park. Janet also found it easy to meet members of Vancouver's bachelor set and soon developed relationships that ranged from flirtatious to serious.

Janet had plans to move back to England but that didn't stop her associations. According to her diary, she felt guilty about leading men on and was concerned about remaining a respectable girl.

In May of 1924, the Bakers moved from the West End to Shaughnessy. 

Another 1925 photo of Glen Brae taken by Frank Leonard.
The date on this photo of 1675 Angus Drive is February 7, 1923 and Frank Leonard is credited with taking it.
This is how 1499 Angus Drive looked in 1923 when Frank Leonard took this picture.
1790 Angus Drive in 1920, taken by Frank Leonard.

It was on the morning of July 26, 1924 that Janet Smith's body was found in the basement of the Baker home. There was a bullet wound in her temple and a revolver lay near her outstretched hand. There was a suspicious burn on her arm and a stain on her finger. 

A 25-year-old houseboy by the name of Wong Foon Sing had found the body of the dead nanny after hearing a noise similar to a car backfiring. The police decided that she had committed suicide and the Vancouver Coroner - after a hasty inquest - reported that Janet Smith had suffered 'a self-inflicted but accidental death.'

You may think that that is the end of it. But is it really? I will tell you more about this twisted tale on Monday.

 Taken by Frank Leonard in 1923, this is a photo of the home of Hugh McLean and H.R. MacMillan at 1337 Balflour Street.
Another photo of the same house taken in August of 1925 by Frank Leonard.
A 1920 photo of Boulevard homes in Shaughnessy. Taken by Frank Leonard.
On July 21, 1923, Frank Leonard took this photo of the Shaughnessy Heights Golf Course.

I have to thank the Vancouver Public Library archives for the photos and to the Directory of Canadian Biography Online for the information on Janet Smith.

Did you forget that all three of my Kindle titles are free through Monday? Check out the covers beside here to find the right link and get your copy.

I hope you find the beauty around you.
Shaughnessy Heights Golf Course again. Taken by Frank Leonard on July 21, 1923.
The clubhouse on the Shaugness Heights Golf Course. July 21, 1923 by Frank Leonard.
R. Broadbridge took this photo in 1925 on Shaughnessy Homes.
In January of 1921, Dominion Photo Co takes this picture of the Shaugnessy Military Hospital at 4325 Willow Street.

, , , , , , , ,,