Thursday, April 25, 2013
The Canadian Wild West
"The Lynching of Louie Sam", John Vaillant, The Walrus, December 2008
The one Canadian lynching was that of Louie Sam, a fourteen year old Sto:lo boy arrested for killing an American settler. He was apprehended north of the border and was en route to New Westminster, BC when he was kidnapped by a lynch mob. "It was at this point that a routine prisoner transfer started looking like a barroom collaboration between Agatha Christie and Louis L’Amour." (Vaillant)
And to think there was a time when I thought Canadian history was boring.
This all started because a young adult novel called The Lynching of Louie Sam was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Awards. The story looks at the historical event through the eyes of a white boy whose father was one of the lynch mob. I needed to get a blurb for the Cool Canadian Crime Arthur Ellis Special and founded the quote on lynching statistics. As often happens with me, more research followed.
The Walrus article suggests that "The case of Louie Sam illustrates that the difference between “peace, order, and good government” and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is not superficial; it cuts to the bone." This got me wondering, did Canada have a wild west?
Oh yeah! We had our fill of home-grown and visiting outlaws. We even exported a few outlaws and law officers across the border.