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British Columbia Police Report Regarding Verdict Of The Coroner Jury Examining Deaths on Kettle Valley Train


Division "B"
District, West Kootenay.
Detachment, Nelson.

P. R. 30/10/24

File No. November 7th, 1924.


Re: Explosion on Kettle Valley Train. West Bound.
Oct. 29th, 1924, near Farron. B.C.

The following is a copy of the verdict of the Coroner's Jury impaneled to enquire into the deaths of W.J Armstrong, Neil E. Murray, Mary Strelaeff and Henry J. Bishop:

"That in our opinion the said William J. Armstrong, Neil E. Murray, Mary Streleoff and Henry J. Bishop came to their deaths as the result of a discharge near Farron, B.C. of a powerful explosive placed within Canadian Pacific Railway Car No. 1586 by some person or persons unknown either with intent or through ignorance.

We would earnestly request that the Attorney Generals' Department of this Province continue diligently their efforts to apprehend the person or persons responsible for this terrible accident.

Sgd. D. St. Deis , (Foreman) Russell Brown MacEwan Walter M. Myers
George Benwell
John Bell
William Rutherford

Henry Hector Mackenzie. Coroner."

The jury was empanelled on the 30th day of October 1924, viewed the remains, and then adjourned until Monday the 3rd of Nov. 1924. The evidence of J. Turner, J. Brennan, and W. Marquis, Conductor, Baggageman and Trainman respectively, and Col. Leach and Mr. McNabb, Explosive Experts, was similar to that taken at Grand Forks, B.C. Drs. Bennett and Eaton gave evidence as to result of autopsies made on the bodies, and in each instance death occurred from fractured skulls. The Jury viewed the scene of the explosion and also viewed the remains of the coach at Farron on the 5th inst., a Special Train took the Coroner, Jury, etc to the scene. Max Baskin gave evidence as to the identity of two coats the property of Peter Verigin, which were torn to shreds on the left side. W.W. Bennett gave evidence as to the connection on the part of a battery (dry cell) which was found at the scene of the explosion by myself. He explained that the soldering was done by a mechanic, at least that was his opinion, but not an electrician, as he would have used copper instead of tin for the connection, his opinion that it was a connection for to connect two cells together, and there may have been more used. E. Collinson, watchmaker, stated the clock which was found in the vicinity of where the explosion took place and which the C.P.R. Officials were of the opinion was a part of an infernal machine had not been near the explosion, and was not likely to have been used for the purpose of exploding a bomb. I gave evidence myself as to the finding of the part of dry cell near the scene of the explosion, and picking up of the clock, and portion of a grip which was about 200 feet from where the explosion took place. Mr. H.H. Currie of the "Nelson Daily News" stated where he obtained his information regarding the reports in the paper that it was the gas tanks on the train which caused the explosion. E.Y Brake, Car Foreman, C.P.R. who gave evidence as to where the gas tanks were situated etc., and F.H. Gaskill of Spokane one of the passengers, also George Zebroff a Doukhobor gave evidence, neither of these two witnesses could give very much information as to what took place excepting that they were asleep at the time. George Zebroff got on train in Castlegar and between there and Farron stated he asked Marquis the trainman where Peter Verigin was going, it is also rumored that he stated he saw the Conductor and trainman place something under the seat where Peter Verigin was sitting, soon after leaving Farron. Marquis states he turned off the steam after leaving Farron and the valve was near where Peter Verigin was sitting, therefore if Zebroff saw the trainman do this he certainly could not have been asleep at the time of the explosion as this occurred a few seconds after Marquis turned off the steam. It also seems peculiar that Peter Verigin should take a ticket from Brilliant to Castlegar on the night in question, and then take another ticket from Castlegar to Grand Forks, especially when he had made previous arrangements to go to Grand Forks, and then on the Spokane to meet Max Baskin one of his business associates. Wm. Harkness Engineer and his fireman Munro who were in charge of the engine gave evidence they stated they saw a hole in the floor of the coach on the right hand side after the explosion, this is the opposite side to which I am of the opinion that the explosion took place.

Ernest Gammon S/Sergt. i/c West Kootenay District

To the
Officer Commanding "B" Division
B.C. Police
Nelson, B.C.

Source: Library and Archives Canada, Access to Information Request A-2004-00120, , Ernest Gammon, "British Columbia Police Report Regarding Verdict Of Coroner Jury Examining Deaths On Kettle Valley Train," November 7, 1924.

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