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.

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1 comment:

  1. Nice finish. it would make a good mystery should anyone want to tackle it. Thanks for a good coffee break.