February 26: Actress Carla Lehmann; Swimmer Vicki Keith Munro; Nelson Eddy plays; botched hanging.

February 26, 1917 – Actress Carla Lehmann is born in Winnipeg. After graduating from Riverbend Girls' School, (now Balmoral Hall), she performed with the Winnipeg Little Theatre before moving to England in 1938 to study drama. She went on to become a star of the London stage and British cinema.

A July 1944 Time Magazine review of Candlelight in Algeria noted: “Canadian Carla Lehmann, with her prairie voice, is about twice as American as the average U.S. screen heroine.”

For more on Carla Lehmann see my West End Dumplings post !

February 26, 1961 - Vicki Keith Munro is born in Winnipeg. She represented Canada at a number of international meets but is best known for being the first person to swim across all five Great Lakes in 1988. She also conquered the Sydney Harbour, English Channel, Lake Winnipeg and the Juan de Fuca Strait. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1992.

February 26, 1915 - Winnipeg fireman Frank Lunny, 30, dies.

Lunny was riding the tailboard of a fire engine from Fire Hall No. 2 to a call on Kennedy Street when it was "T-boned" by a streetcar at the intersection of Donald and York. Lunny was thrown and died of head injuries three hours later at General Hospital.

Ironically, Lunny worked for the Winnipeg Street Railway Company before becoming a fireman.

February 26, 1988 - St. Peter's Dynevor Anglican Church Rectory, 1147 Breezy Point Road, R.M. of St. Andrews (near Selkirk), is designated a Provincial Heritage Site.

Click to read the program !

February 26, 1940
- Nelson Eddy plays the Winnipeg Auditorium.

Brandon Sun, April 21, 1917

February 26, 1918 - Thomas Fletcher (23) is hanged at the Portage Gaol for the murder of little Gordon Rasmussen (10).

When Gordon's father died, his mother remarried a Carberry-area man named Storyak. In 1916 Mr. Storyak was off at war and Gordon was sent to the Spence farm near Carberry to stay. It appears that the Spences were interested in adopting the boy.

Thomas Fletcher was a farm hand who worked at the Spence farm, he had been sent over from Britain while in his teens. He became jealous of the affection shown to Gordon by the Spence family and on April 15, 1916 took Gordon into the woods and executed him with a close-range shotgun blast to the base of the skull. When he returned to the farmhouse, Fletcher confessed to the family and the RCMP was contacted.

On November 23, 1917 Fletcher was found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang but "Elliott" the hangman botched the job.

Manitoba Free Press, February 27, 1918

The Voice, a weekly labour paper opposed to capital punishment, wrote on March 1, 1918 that: "Poor Fletcher hung on the rope with feet touching the ground and his pulses did not cease to beat for half an hour. It was one minute short of three quarters of an hour before the physician pronounced him dead."

The February 27, 1918 Manitoba Free Press reported that "Hangman Elliott bungled the affair and the scene was most revolting to those who who had been summoned as witnesses" and describes Elliott's unsuccessful attempt to hoist the man part-way back up so that he could strangle. Others had to assist by grabbing the dying body by the legs and lifting them off the ground. They held him in place for over half an hour until the doctor finally declared him dead.

Manitoba Free Press, August 14, 1918

For Mrs. Storyak, her sadness continued. Just months after the hanging she was informed that Private John Storyak, her second husband, was killed in action.

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