31 July

Murder Suspects Arrested Near Rimouski, Quebec

Many visitors to London, England, go to see Madame Tussaud's famous waxworks. In the "Chamber of Horrors" is the figure of Dr. Crippen, one of the most publicized murderers of all time.

Dr. Crippen wanted to get rid of his wife so that he could marry an attractive typist, Ethel Le Neve. He used his knowledge of medicine to destroy most of her body, and buried the remains under the concrete floor in the cellar. He then announced that she was visiting relatives in the United States and, later, that she had died there. The death notice was published in the paper. Dr. Crippen also raised a good deal of money selling her jewellery and other valuables.

He might have got away with the crime if a suspicious neighbour had not asked Scotland Yard to investigate. Inspector Drew called on Dr. Crippen and asked routine questions which caused Crippen to panic. He went to Brussels with Ethel Le Neve, disguised her as a boy, and booked a passage to Canada on the S.S. Montrose. It sailed from Antwerp on July 20, 1910.

Captain Kendall of the Montrose became suspicious of the pair about two hours after they had been at sea. Ethel Le Neve was supposed to be Crippen's son, but he saw them holding hands on the boat deck. Captain Kendall then turned detective, and his written account is amusing. He noticed that Dr. Crippen's "son" ate like a lady, and not like a young boy. Furthermore, "his" trousers were very tight around the hips, and a split in the back had been fastened with pins! He made Dr. Crippen laugh so that he could see if he had false teeth.

After two days at sea, Captain Kendall radioed Scotland Yard that he felt certain Dr. Crippen and Ethel Le Neve were among the passengers (the first time wireless was used to track down a criminal) . Inspector Drew and Sergeant Mitchell were rushed across the Atlantic in the S.S. Laurentic, and boarded the S.S. Mont rose at Father Point, off Rimouski, Quebec. Crippen and Miss Le Neve were arrested on July 31 and taken back to London for trial. Crippen was convicted and hanged at Pentonvil le Prison, although protesting his innocence to the end. Ethel Le Neve was defended by a famous British lawyer, Lord Birkenhead, and was acquitted.


31 July

-1687    Fort Niagara was built by Denonville at the mouth of the Niagara River.

-1759    Wolfe attacked Quebec, but was repulsed.

-1763    Pontiac defeated the British at Bloody Run (see May 7) .

-1837    A meeting at Quebec formed a "Committee of Vigilance" with W. L. Mackenzie, the representative for Upper Canada. It proposed to form provisional governments in both provinces.

-1868    The Imperial Parliament passed the Rupert's Land Act authorizing Canada to acquire the Northwest Territories.

-1874    The first party of Mennonites arrived at Quebec and settled in Manitoba (see July 29).

-1907    A plant to develop electric power from coal was opened at Maccan, Nova Scotia. Famous inventor Thomas Edison, who was a member of a family from Digby, Nova Scotia, was one of the founders.

-1913    Alys McKey Bryant made the first solo flight by a woman in Canada at Vancouver racetrack. The first woman in Canada to get a pilot's licence was Eileen Vollick of Hamilton, Ontario, in 1928.

-1957    DEW (distant early warning) radar line went into operation.