British Columbia Provincial Police constable and game warden
1893 - 1930
Dennis Greenwood had deep roots in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, and a family tradition of police service. Like his father, he served as a police constable in Yorkshire; after immigrating to Canada, he served as a policeman and game warden.
Dennis Greenwood, British Columbia Provincial Police, c. 1926
In Canada, he joined the British Columbia Provincial Police Force. He was based in Canal Flats, a small village in the East Kootenay region of Canada's most westerly province.
On 5 July 1930 he was murdered by a deranged trapper on the main street of the village. His wife and three young daughters were present at this horrific event. Dennis was thirty-seven-years-old when he was killed. His death was a great loss to his community and an enduring tragedy to his family in England and Canada.
Dennis Greenwood was born on 28 September 1893 in Bradfield, West Yorkshire. The village of Bradfield is 7 miles northwest of Sheffield and consists of two settlements, Low Bradfield and High Bradfield. Dennis' birthplace was Agden House, in the hamlet of Smallfield, in High Bradfield.
His mother, Florence Maud Bramall, was born in High Bradfield in 1868 and his father James Greenwood was born near the town of Barnsley in 1869. They were married near Sheffield in July 1891. For most of his career, James Greenwood was a police officer, starting as a 3rd class constable with the West Riding Constabulary in April 1891. He resigned from the police force in March 1892 to take up a farm in High Bradfield. Dennis Greenwood was born during his father's brief stint as a farmer. James Greenwood re-enlisted in November 1894 and served with distinction in the West Yorkshire police service until he retired, with the rank of sergeant, in November 1920.
Dennis was the eldest of seven children. His sisters and brothers were born in different places, as their father was posted to various detachments in the West Riding. Ethel was born in Hillsborough in 1894; James (1897) was born in Shipley. Stanley (1899), George (1901), Eva (1902) and Maud (1904) were born in Wentworth. Annie (1906) was born in Kiveton Park. These places were not far distant from each other. The region where Dennis Greenwood and his siblings were born and raised is quite compact. Economically, it was based on farming, coal mining, and manufacturing.
Dennis Greenwood and his family, at Mapplewell, near Barnsley, Yorks, December 1914.
Back row, standing, left to right, brothers: James, Stanley, and George. Middle row: His mother, Florence; Dennis and his father, James, Snr. In the front row, sisters: Eva, Ethel, Annie, and Maud.
Dennis attended local schools and was a diligent student. In 1907, when he was fourteen-years-old, he received a prize for good attendance and first-class marks at Kiveton Park school. His book prize was Tom Brown’s Schooldays, the famous novel by Thomas Hughes.
After he left school, he worked in a coal mine in some capacity relating to security rather than production. On the 1911 census of England and Wales, his occupation was recorded as “corporal in coal mine, below ground.” The census was taken in April 1911 when Dennis was seventeen-years-old. The colliery company that employed him is not identified, but it was probably the Kiveton Park Colliery near Rotherham, South Yorkshire. At the time, his family lived nearby in the village of Laughton-en-le-Morthern (commonly known as Laughton), where his father was police sergeant at the local station.
In March 1914, at the age of twenty, Dennis emulated his father and joined the Rotherham County Borough Police. He served as a constable until August the following year. He resigned with a certificate of commendation, affirming that he had displayed an “exemplary character” during his relatively short time with the Rotherham police department.
Dennis Greenwood, theology student, c. 1915
Dennis resigned from the police force with the intention of becoming a minister in the Methodist Church. As a boy, he had attended ‘chapel’ regularly and during his youth taught Sunday school. A local magazine, reporting on his plans, remarked: “Dennis Greenwood…was a boy in the Laughton Sunday School, then a teacher, and one of the best workers in the church. Everybody in the village knows him, and he is greatly esteemed by all…. Laughton is proud of him and wishes him every success.”
In preparation, he began theological studies at Wesleyan College in Didsbury, Manchester, and was received as a probationary preacher by the Methodist Conference, the governing body of the church. In autumn 1915, he commenced his probationary work as a candidate for the ministry in Chatteris, a village in Cambridgeshire. His training for the ministry was interrupted by his military service in the First World War. When the war ended, he resumed his clerical studies, but only briefly. For reasons that are unclear, he did not pursue his plans to become a Methodist clergyman.
During the First World War, he served in the Royal Artillery. His army unit, the 185th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, was deployed overseas at Salonika in northern Greece and was engaged on the Macedonian front until the end of the war. He was hospitalised twice — in August 1917 with malaria and in October 1917 with fever. He was invalided to a British military hospital in Malta where he met a Canadian army nurse, Mary King Cummins. They may have met again in a convalescent hospital in England before she returned to Canada in February 1919.
Dennis was demobilized from the British Army, with the rank of corporal, in late 1918 or early 1919. Very soon, he was making plans to go to Canada. He left his home and family in West Yorkshire in the autumn of 1919.
Dennis sailed from Liverpool to Quebec City on the Empress of France, departing on 26 September 1919 and arriving on 5 October 1919. The ship’s passenger list shows his occupation as “clerical student,” indicating that he still had some connection to the clergy. His destination was given as Toronto, Ontario. However, soon after landing in Canada, he headed to the western province of Alberta.
Dennis Greenwood, with book, and George Greenwood, Taber Hotel, Taber, Alberta, c. 1921
In Alberta, Dennis worked as a sales representative and tutor for International Correspondence Schools [ICS] Ltd. The ICS was founded in 1889 in Pennsylvania to improve conditions for coal miners. The ICS began with basic courses that would enable workers to pass mine safety exams. More advanced courses were developed and, in the early 1900s, the ICS expanded to England and Australia. The ICS opened its Canadian Division in 1920. Dennis Greenwood, with his practical experience in the collieries of Yorkshire, was part of the ICS vanguard in western Canada. He was based in the coal-mining town of Taber, near Lethbridge, Alberta. He lived in Taber for about a year. (He and his younger brother, George Greenwood, who was bound for California, boarded at the Taber Hotel.) The ICS regional office was in Calgary. Mary Cummins, the Canadian Army nurse whom Dennis met at the convalescent hospital in Malta, was on staff at Calgary General Hospital. A romance blossomed or was re-kindled.
Dennis Greenwood and Mary King (Cummins) Greenwood were married in Calgary in the Anglican Pro Cathedral Church of the Redeemer on 5 April 1922. The marriage service was conducted by the Rev. F. B. Leacroft, the rector of St. Theodore’s Anglican church in Taber. The marriage ceremony was witnessed by the bride’s brother, Frank Cummins, a clerk in the Canadian Imperial Bank in Calgary, and by her mother, Mrs. Rose Margaret Cummins, who travelled from the family home in Port Arthur, Ontario, for the happy event.
Dennis Greenwood and Mary Cummins on their wedding day, Calgary, 1922.
Soon after, they moved west across the Rocky Mountains to the East Kootenay region of British Columbia. They settled in of Canal Flats, a small village at the south end of Columbia Lake, between the Rocky Mountains and Purcell Mountains in the Columbia Valley. The scenery is spectacular but the village was unprepossessing.
Canal Flats was established in 1889 by a flamboyant entrepreneur, William Adolph Baillie-Grohman, as a node in an ambitious inland navigation scheme. It was the location of a short canal, built in the 1890s, that connected the upper Kootenay River with the headwaters of Columbia Lake. The navigation scheme was not practical and the canal was abandoned after only a few years of operation. However, a small settlement developed close to the canal and was sustained by a sawmill and cattle ranches in the vicinity. The settlement was known as Grohman until 1913. It was then called Canal Flat and eventually Canal Flats.
The village of Canal Flats was served by the Kootenay Central branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway [CPR]. Completed in 1914, the branch line ran from Cranbrook, about sixty miles (100 km) south of Canal Flats, to the town of Golden, about one hundred miles (160 km) north. Golden was a division point on the main line of the transcontinental CPR.
Canal Flats was intersected by a trail that Indigenous people used in travelling from St. Eugene Mission near Cranbrook to a reserve on Windermere Lake, about thirty miles (50 km) north of the village. (Formerly known as the Columbia Lake Indian Band, the Indigenous community near Windermere is now called the Akisq’nuk First Nation.) Canal Flats was also served by the Banff-Windermere Highway which linked the region across the Rockies to Calgary. The highway was completed in 1923.
In the early 1900s, land developers were alluding to the “Windermere Valley” as a distinctive part of the larger Columbia Valley region, and promoting the area as a good place for middle-class British immigrants. The principal developer was the Columbia Valley Irrigated Fruit Lands Ltd., a company organized by Robert Randolph Bruce, a mining engineer and former CPR land agent. Bruce acquired land from the CPR, subdivided it into lots, and advertised the lots in England as potential orchards and “ranches.” Dennis and Mary Greenwood may have been encouraged to come to the Windermere Valley by a friend from England who owned a ranch near Canal Flats. Possibly they were drawn to Canal Flats for other reasons.
Dennis resigned from the ICS when he left Calgary. He and Mary must have had a nest egg when they came to Canal Flats in May or June 1922, because they were able to purchase the general store and post office from a longtime resident, Douglas Grainger. A native of Lancashire, England, Grainger and his family came to Canal Flats around 1900, after having lived for a few years in Banff. Grainger established a ranch at Thunder Hill, on the west side of Columbia Lake, and ran a store and stopping house in nearby Canal Flats. The post office was managed by his daughter-in-law, Emily, who was married to his eldest son, Hardwick Grainger. She and Mary Greenwood may have been related through the Cummins family. When the Greenwoods arrived in Canal Flats, Hardwick Grainger was the provincial police constable.
Dennis Greenwood, Findlay Creek, c. 1923
Dennis Greenwood was officially appointed as postmaster of Canal Flats on 9 August 1922. The post office and general store operated from an old log building that dated from the earliest years of the settlement. The Greenwoods’ living quarters were in a two-story wood-frame building that was attached to the log structure. The buildings stood near the lock of the disused canal and a few hundred metres from the railway station. In 1922, this was the centre of Canal Flats.
Although they had no previous experience as small business proprietors, Dennis and Mary Greenwood operated the store successfully for several years. They traded with First Nations people, whom they knew as the Kutenai Indian tribe, and became friends with the Kutenai chief, who was known to them as Chief Louie.
The Banff-Windermere Highway brought more customers to their store. The section of road from Cranbrook to Invermere was completed in June 1922 and before the summer was over, the Greenwoods had added a gas bar and were selling prepared lunches. And they advertised in regional newspapers. One of their ads in the Cranbrook Herald proclaimed: “You can get Food for Yourself and Food for Your Car at CANAL FLAT. Full Line of Groceries and Provisions” (20 July 1922, p. 6). When the highway was completed and officially opened in June 1923, they were doing a brisk trade.
Tourist traffic was also generated by the David Thompson Memorial Fort at nearby Windermere. The replica Hudson’s Bay Company fur trade post was built for no other reason than to attract tourist traffic to the area. The replica fort was opened with great fanfare on Pioneers’ Day, 30 August 1922.
Dennis attended the opening ceremonies and recorded the events with his Kodak Brownie camera. He sent the photographs, with annotations written on the back of the small prints, to his family in Yorkshire. He also sent photos of the wilderness around Canal Flats and his gold mining claim on Findlay Creek to the west of Canal Flats.
Decades before, in the 1880s, there had been a flurry of placer mining activity and in the 1920s several large hydraulic mines were operating in the region. There was a legend of a lost gold mine called the Lemon Diggings, which was supposedly located somewhere along Findlay Creek. Dennis must have heard about the legend. In any case, he enjoyed fossicking in the back country. Fortunately for posterity, he carried his Kodak Brownie camera with him when he was tramping through the bush and setting up camps along the way. He never found large quantities of gold, but his photos are a treasure trove for local historians today.
Dennis may have been seeking a more secure future for his family and a regular salary when he joined the British Columbia Provincial Police Force in April 1925. Quite likely, he was recommended by the District Inspector to replace Hardwick Grainger, the incumbent constable. Grainger had been in charge of the Canal Flats detachment since 1918, but had to resign his post for health reasons. Dennis Greenwood was an ideal replacement.
Provincial Police records, held in the BC Archives, indicate the qualifications required of recruits. In the 1920s, the Form of Application asked for the usual particulars about the applicant’s occupation, nationality, religion, height, weight and marital status, and if the applicant was “Temperate or total abstainer.” Applicants were asked to “describe fully what experience (if any) in Police work,” plus “Experience (if any) with horses.” Applicants were asked for details of their “Military or Naval Service in the War,” and copies of their discharge documents.
Dennis had a commendable war record and provided testimonials of exemplary service from the Rotherham County Borough Police. He was duly sworn in by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the King and an Oath of Office to the Provincial Police Force.
His personnel file indicates that he stood 5 foot, 9 ½ inches [178 cm] tall; weighed 180 lbs. [82 kilos]; had blue eyes and brown hair, and a “coal scar” over his left eye.
The Provincial Police uniform consisted of a brown serge tunic with green epaulets, a beige shirt and green neck tie, and brown trousers or breeches. The uniform included a Sam Brown belt, with cross strap, holster and revolver. Some constables wore a cloth peak cap, but Dennis preferred a flat-brimmed Stetson.
He started as a probationer 3rd class constable and was paid $3.50 per diem, which worked out to about $1,200 per year. In December 1925, he was engaged for a three-year term at a salary of $110 per month or about $1,320 per year. He was promoted to 2nd class constable in May 1927 and re-engaged for three-years in December 1928. By 1930, he had attained the rank of 1st class constable with a salary of nearly $1,700 per year. It was good money. His remuneration was comparable to the salary of a high school teacher in a rural municipal school district such as Kimberly, BC. (The nearest secondary school in the region was in Kimberly, a mining-town about forty miles (70 km) south of Canal Flats.) Moreover, he had a secure government job. At the onset of the Depression, when unemployment was widespread, this was a great benefit.
Having joined the Provincial Police Force, he resigned as postmaster of Canal Flats. He and Mary sold the general store. They moved to a new home a few miles north of Canal Flats, on the eastern shore of Columbia Lake. Their property consisted of about sixty-acres of land, with a house and outbuildings. They bought the place from the Grainger family. The purchase was financed with a mortgage that was held initially by Robert B. Prust, a rancher at nearby Fairmont Springs. The mortgage was subsequently assigned to Mary Greenwood’s uncles: William Redford Mulock, who was married to Mary’s aunt, Lilian Lucia Cummins; and to her late father’s brother, Steven Swete Cummins. Mulock was a lawyer in Winnipeg and Cummins was a banker in New York City.
The Greenwood place, north of Canal Flats on Columbia Lake, c. 1928
The spacious house on the lakeside property had been built about twenty-five years earlier for an eccentric English aristocrat, the Hon. Frances J. Lascelles, a younger son of the 4th Earl of Harewood. Lascelles owned a ranch at Thunder Hill on the other side the lake and was sent back to England, under a cloud, before his new house was finished. The house became a very happy home for the Greenwood family – for Dennis and Mary and their three daughters.
The first daughter, Margaret Florence (who was called Pat and later known as Paddy) was born on 2 July 1923; their second daughter, Kathleen King (called Kathy and later Kay), was born on 15 February 1925; their youngest daughter, Ann Denise, was born on 29 December 1928. The Greenwood girls were born in the Windermere District Hospital in Invermere, about thirty miles (50 km) north of Canal Flats. Invermere was the largest town in the region.
Canal Flats experienced a boom in the late 1920s when the CPR moved its timber operations, including the company’s logging and sawmilling business, from the town of Bull River to Canal Flats. In the process, the centre of the village moved half a mile north, away from the disused lock on the old canal and closer to the CPR’s new sawmill beside the Kootenay River.
Dennis remarked on the changes in a letter to his brother, George, in October 1928. George was then living in Sacramento, California; but years earlier, he had spent a few months with Dennis and Mary in Canal Flats.
Dennis noted that the CPR “have started building a saw mill and logging camps at the Flats and when they get into their stride there will be five or six hundred men working for them…There will be big changes very soon and we shall have a small town with stores & a school & church where the deer & grouse used to find food & shelter.” As he anticipated, the community grew in size. By 1930, Canal Flats boasted two hotels, a rooming house and restaurant, a barber shop and blacksmith, plus its general store and post office.
Dennis elaborated in a letter to his cousin, Willie Bramall, who was farming in southern Alberta. “Since last we wrote to you, we have started buying a place here and we like it very well. It will never make a farm in the true sense of the word, but it will be fine for small fruits and chickens and possibly fur if we can get around to it. A new town has been built this summer and there is also a new school. It is about a mile and a half from us. And though it is nice to see more people and have good neighbours, we were quite content before.”
The Greenwoods’ circle of friends included Robert Prust and his wife, Evelyn, and their daughters, Athol and Olga. Dennis and Mary socialized with Joe and Doris Bellamy, who owned the Thunder Hill Ranch on the west side of Columbia Lake, as well as a ranch near Invermere. They were friends with Alex and Ellen (Nellie) McQueen, who ran the post office for a few years. They were close friends with John and Ida Roberts, who purchased the general store in Canal Flats, having previously ranched in the vicinity. After Dennis joined the Masonic Order in Windermere in 1928, his social circle included some of his lodge brothers. Among the Masonic fraternity, Gilbert Cartwright, a building contractor in Invermere, and Benjamin Luck, the CPR stores-keeper at Canal Flats and the local Justice of the Peace, were notable.
We see glimpses of Dennis Greenwood’s personality and home-life from his letters and recollections of visitors. The house he shared with Mary and the girls was comfortably appointed. The furnishings included a piano purchased on the installment plan from the well-known firm of Mason & Risch. Mary played the piano and Dennis played the violin, so theirs was a musical household. It was also a ‘bookish’ home and Dennis had a library nook in the attic. Mary’s niece, Lillian Racey, who stayed with the Greenwoods in 1927 when she was a teenager, remembered “shelves that were lined with books” in the attic. “He [Dennis] and I spent many a happy hour up there in the leather chairs reading,” she recalled. “There were histories of Greece and Rome, translations of the Iliad, etc., but there were plenty of novels, as well.” She remembered her uncle as “a cheerful, quiet man, stocky with a round face & pink cheeks & very blue eyes.”
There was also a desk where Dennis wrote short stories. The stories were probably intended for popular magazines in England or the United States, because the return address on some of the manuscripts is: “Canal Flats, c/o Golden, B.C., Canada.” His nom de plume was “Ranger” and his stories were set in the region. One of the tales, entitled “The Game Warden’s Story: A Story of the Kootenay Indians of British Columbia,” opens as follows:
There are very many beautiful places in this wide Dominion of Canada, but east or west you will find none more beautiful than Turquoise Lake and its immediate surroundings. Situated in the Rockies at the southern end of the lovely Columbia Valley, it is in the heart of a big game country and a perfect paradise to any hunter.
In this short story, and in his other yarns, Dennis was describing the picturesque territory that he routinely patrolled in carrying out his duties as the provincial police constable and game warden at Canal Flats.
He was obliged to keep a journal of his activities, indicating the places he visited, his mode of transport, and the distance he travelled each day. The daily journals were used to compile monthly reports which were sent to Provincial Police headquarters in Victoria. The reports, plus snippets of personal correspondence, offer an interesting picture of his job.
Dennis with his saddle horse and pack horse, c. 1928
Typically, he spent at least twenty days every month in the field, as he explained in a letter to his cousin. “Most of the time, I have a saddle horse and a pack horse on which I carry my tent and supplies, camping here and there and generally on the move from place to place.”
Over the years, he had several horses. Some of them he described in photos and letters to his family in England. One of the photos, circa 1926, shows his saddle horse, Toots, and pack horse, Maundy. On the back of the photo print, he wrote: “Riding Toots & Maundy has pack on. This pack comprises two rawhide bags hung on pack saddle, pots in the middle & the whole covered with a small tent. Over the lot is a diamond hitch.”
He travelled about five hundred miles every month. Most of the distance was “by saddle,” that is, on horseback. In March 1928, for instance, he recorded 325 miles (520 km) of travel “by saddle” and 160 miles (250 km) “on foot.” In April, he recorded nearly 280 miles (450 km) “by saddle” and about 70 miles (110 km) “on foot.” In the back country, he usually camped on his own, but occasionally he would spend the night in prospectors’ cabins.
He recorded mileage by canoe when he carried out a monthly census of migratory birds. This duty derived from the Migratory Birds Convention between Canada and the United States and related legislation, notably the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act (1917). The Act was intended to protect and conserve migratory birds by monitoring bird populations. Accordingly, at specific locations across British Columbia, provincial constables (who were ex officio game wardens) counted the ducks, geese and swans that comprised the wildfowl of the region. It was a detailed census of the various species of wildfowl. Thus, under the heading of ducks, Dennis identified and enumerated American Merganser, Red-headed Merganser, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Blue-Winged Teal, Shoveller, and Golden-Eye ducks. He counted Canada Geese and Brant Geese, Coots, and Swans. His knowledge of ornithology was impressive
As well, his work duties entailed travel by automobile when patrolling the Banff-Windermere Highway. In his district, the highway patrols extended from Fairmont, twenty miles (30 km) north of Canal Flats, to Wasa, a settlement thirty miles (50 km) south.
While his job involved regular patrols and routine duties, there was lots of variety in the work. For example, in May 1928, he escorted the Governor General of Canada, Viscount Willingdon, on a tour of the Paradise Mine at Athalmer, north of Invermere. (One of the largest silver-producers in the province, the Paradise Mine was previously owned by Randolf Bruce, the Windermere Valley lands promoter. Bruce was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia in 1926 and organized the vice-regal tour of 1928). Later that year, Dennis helped to deal with an outbreak of smallpox in a forestry camp. During a very cold week in December 1928, he assisted the district medical officer, Dr. Filmer E. Coy, and vaccinated dozens of men who were cutting timber for railway ties in a location known as Camp 2 on Findlay Creek.
Within the bureaucracy of the British Columbia government, the Provincial Police Force was a component of the Department of the Attorney-General. When Dennis first joined the Provincial Police in 1925, constables combined the duties of a policeman, responsible for enforcing the Criminal Code of Canada and provincial and municipal laws, as well as the duties of a game warden.
British Columbia statute that created the Provincial Game Department, March 1929.
In 1929, a Game Department was established by the Attorney-General through an amendment to the Game Act. The new Game Department was separate from, yet allied with, the Provincial Police Force. Members of the police force were given an opportunity to transfer to the new service; and, on 31 May 1929, Dennis Greenwood and twenty-five other regular constables were “discharged to the Game Department.” They retained their rank and salary.
Dennis transferred to the Game Department because the work was congenial and because he would likely remain in Canal Flats, instead of being posted to a police detachment elsewhere in the province.
The newly-constituted Game Department had a strength of sixty-men, including former Special Constables and Deputy Game Wardens. It was organized in five regional divisions, each supervised by an Inspector. Dennis was part of “B” Division (Kootenay and Boundary Districts).
The uniform worn by members of the Game Department was nearly identical to that of the Provincial Police. Brass insignia and buttons were inscribed “Game Department,” instead of “British Columbia Provincial Police,” and blue epaulets and tie replaced the green worn by the police.
Provincial Game Wardens were primarily responsible for enforcing the Game Act, a statute officially entitled An Act for the Protection of certain Animals and Birds (S.B.C, c. 98, 1924). Provisions of the Game Act fell under five broad categories pertaining to game animals, game birds, licences for hunting and fishing, firearms, and trapping.
In March 1930, Game Warden Greenwood charged Wiliam Floyd with trapping without a licence and poaching on trap lines owned by the Columbia Lake Indian Band. Floyd admitted the offences and was told to attend an adjudication hearing before a Justice of the Peace [JP] in Canal Flats on Saturday, 5 July 1930. No one anticipated the fatal consequences that would result from this relatively minor charge.
The weather was warm on the day of the hearing. Dennis wore his regulation shirt and tie, but did not wear his uniform jacket. Instead, he pinned his British Columbia Game Warden badge on to his belt. Dennis anticipated that Floyd’s hearing would be a perfunctory business. He had discussed the charges with Benjamin Luck, the JP, and expected that Floyd would receive a reprimand rather than a fine or a custodial sentence. Because Dennis anticipated a very short hearing, he brought his wife, Mary, and his daughters with him into the village. They planned to visit friends after the hearing.
Dennis drove into Canal Flats in his 1925 Ford sedan around two o’clock on the Saturday afternoon. He parked in front of the general store and post office. While Mary and the girls waited in the car, he went inside to pick up the mail. He chatted with the postmistress, Ida Roberts, a family friend. She was going on vacation and accompanied Dennis back to the car, to tell Mary about her holiday plans. At that point, Floyd approached the car and said he wanted “a word with Mr. Greenwood.” Dennis stepped behind the car to converse with him. Floyd produced a Luger pistol and shot him point blank. Dennis fell to the ground, mortally wounded.
Floyd walked away in a nonchalant manner. Strolling north from the post office towards his house, he remarked to a horrified witness, “I settled with one. He got what he deserved.”
Upon hearing the gun shot, Mary rushed to her husband’s side. John Roberts and Levi Markuson, who saw the incident from the Queens Hotel across the street, carried Dennis into the store. Mary tried to staunch the wound, but in vain. Dennis hovered in and out of consciousness for about thirty minutes before he died.
A short while later, Floyd was apprehended at his house by Provincial Police Constable James Kirkup. Floyd was still carrying the Luger pistol when encountered by Kirkup, but he surrendered without protest. “I did it. I shot Greenwood, but he had it coming,” he told Kirkup as he was arrested.
The murder was reported in all of the major newspapers in British Columbia and in the regional press. The Cranbrook Courier provided a poignant account: “Prior to Floyd’s arrest, a pathetic scene was enacted at the post office when the dying Greenwood, recovering consciousness just before he passed, asked to see his little daughter.” The Courier added, “The callous brutality of the shooting, practically in view of the murdered man’s family, caused a great wave of resentment against Floyd to sweep over Canal Flats.”
Dennis Greenwood’s funeral was held two days after his murder, on Monday, 7 July. Almost the entire population of Canal Flats was present when he was buried in the lakeside cemetery in Windermere. The funeral service was carried out under the auspices of the Masonic Lodge. Gilbert Cartwright and Benjamin Luck were pallbearers.
William Edward Floyd, born in Ontario, was forty-eight years old. During the First World War, he had served in a British Columbia battalion, the Kootenay Regiment. Prior to committing murder, Floyd was employed on a provincial government ‘make-work’ roads project.
Floyd was initially held in a cell in the Canal Flats police detachment office. After a preliminary hearing (conducted by the JP, Benjamin Luck), Floyd was committed for trial at the Fall Assizes in the city of Fernie. The Crown Counsel (prosecution lawyer) was Allan Graham of Cranbrook. Floyd was uncooperative throughout the proceedings, but the Crown provided him with a good defence lawyer – Sherwood Herchmer, K.C., a prominent barrister in Fernie. The defence counsellor had but one strategy: to plead insanity. To bolster his case, Herchmer called upon a psychiatrist from New Westminster, Dr. James Gordon McKay, as an expert witness.
Floyd’s murder trial was held towards the end of October 1930. According to newspaper reports, it was attended “by the largest crowd ever assembled in a court room in Fernie.” As the Nelson Daily News noted (22 October 1930), the “most important witness as to the sanity of the accused” was Dr. McKay:
He stated that from a careful examination of the accused and listening to evidence throughout the case that it was his opinion that Floyd was suffering from one form of epilepsy due to numerous concussions of the brain received during his service overseas in the Great War.
The defence counsel emphasized that Floyd’s action was completely irrational. Floyd’s nonchalance after the fact also indicated that he was “mentally abnormal at the time of the shooting.” The plea was persuasive. After deliberating for an hour and a half, the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty on account of insanity.” But Floyd was not released from custody. He spent the remainder of his life in provincial institutions “for the criminally insane.”
Dennis Greenwood’s death was acknowledged in the Provincial Game Commissioner’s Report for 1930, by an In Memoriam insert that was printed within a black border. The Commissioner’s tribute described Dennis as “a very reliable and efficient officer” whose “whole heart and soul were in his work,” an officer who had “all the qualifications for promotion.” “He was most highly respected and liked throughout his district and his lamentable death is most deeply deplored.”
Pillow stone grave marker, Windermere Cemetery, 1930
Dennis was buried in a section of Windermere Cemetery reserved for veterans of the First World War. His grave marker was provided by the Great War Veterans’ Association, a precursor of the Royal Canadian Legion. The simple, flat stone marker was inscribed: “Dennis Greenwood. Royal Artillery. Died July 5, 1930.”
Ninety years after his death, he was honoured by the Conservation Officer Service [COS] of British Columbia, the successor agency of the Provincial Game Department. In 2020, the COS installed a magnificent polished headstone that was etched with the provincial coat-of-arms, a British Columbia Game Warden’s badge, and a photograph of the deceased in uniform. The new grave marker is inscribed: “Dennis Greenwood 1893-1930. Husband, Father, Soldier, BC Game Warden.”
The following year, on 5 July 2021, the COS unveiled another striking memorial to Dennis Greenwood. It was a bronze, commemorative plaque set on a boulder placed in the centre of Canal Flats, in a small park opposite the village post office. The large plaque provides a summary of the fatal events that occurred there on 5 July 1930 and a tribute from a local newspaper shortly after the tragedy: “Able and diplomatic in the discharge of his duties, courteous and in every way a gentleman: Mr. Greenwood had right from the start won the respect, admiration and affection of all with whom he came in contact.”
Gravestone installed and dedicated by the BC Conservation Officer Service in Windermere Cemetery, 5 July 2020
Cecil Clark, a former deputy police commissioner and author of Tales of the British Columbia Provincial Police (1971), remembered Dennis Greenwood as an “impressive fellow” and “a man of many parts.”
Indeed, Dennis Greenwood was a man of many parts. Clark recalled him as a diligent police constable and popular game warden, but Dennis would also be remembered as a dutiful son and stalwart brother; a student of divinity and man of the cloth; a soldier and teacher; a general store keeper and postmaster; a gold prospector and outdoorsman who played the violin and wrote short stories.
He was a devoted husband and father. Mary was devastated by his death. He was killed only a few weeks after her mother, who was staying with the Greenwood family at Canal Flats, died unexpectedly. Dennis had consoled Mary and made arrangements to send her mother’s remains back to the Cummins family in Ontario for an interment.
As Dennis’ widow and executor, Mary settled his estate, which was very modest in terms of worldly goods. Probate records list the assets of his estate as two horses and a cow, a motor car and a piano, plus a furnished house and fifty-seven acres in part of Lot 110 in Kootenay Land District. Fortunately, he had a life insurance policy and with the proceeds Mary was able to pay off the piano and discharge the mortgage on their Columbia Lake property.
Mary stayed in the vicinity for about eighteen months after Dennis was killed. The two oldest girls attended school in Canal Flats. At the end of the 1931 school year, Mary and her daughters were staying as guests with the Bellamy family at Fairmont. Mary was then making plans to move to Victoria, British Columbia. She never remarried and lived in Victoria, BC, until her death in 1962.
In the Columbia Valley, Dennis Greenwood is commemorated in the Windermere cemetery and Portage Park in Canal Flats, and with a prominent mountain that can be seen to the west of Canal Flats. The mountain is known locally as Mount Greenwood.
Unveiling of the memorial plaque for Dennis Greenwood in Portage Park, Canal Flats, on 5 July 2021.