August 25: Botched hanging; Winnipeg police armed; Monty Hall; Dick Bonnycastle.

August 25, 1911 – The Winnipeg Police Commission votes to allow Winnipeg Police to carry arms after a series of crimes including armed robberies, shootings and the wounding of a policeman by American criminals. Police Chief Newton was instructed to purchase 25 Colt automatic revolvers and 25 'Colt 4' Police Positive revolvers. Three days later the City of St. Boniface followed suit.

August 25, 1892 - The Glenboro Gazette begins publication.

August 25, 1896 - Nellie Moody, a rural Manitoba schoolteacher, marries Manitou druggist Robert Wesley McClung. The couple settle there and raise a family.

August 25, 1921 - Game show host and television producer Maurice Halperin, known to most as Monty Hall, is born in Winnipeg. For More on Monty Hall's Winnipeg roots.

August 25, 1903 - Businessman and publisher Richard Henry Gardyne Bonnycastle is born near Dauphin, Manitoba.

Mills and Boon, the Winnipeg printing company that he co-owned, was looking for ways to keep the presses busy during non-peak times. They began printing short runs of paperback novels and one of their ventures called Harlequin, which produced romance novels, proved a success.

Harlequin's first title: 1949

It was son Richard Bonnycastle Jr. that turned Harlequin Romance into an international brand. In 1975 Torstar, publishers of the Toronto Star, bought a majority ownership in Harlequin.

For more Harlequin Romance history see: The Walrus and CBC.
August 25 1926 - Daniel Prockiw is hanged in Winnipeg for the murder of "Scotch Annie" Cardno of 57 1/2 Heaton Street.

For ten years the couple lived common-law, (or as 'paramours' as the papers of the day often put it). Cardno was a known 'underworld figure' in Winnipeg with a long police record of drunk and disorderly charges. Prockiw was a violent man who on many occasions beat Cardno black and blue.

March 17, 1926 Manitoba Free Press headline

On March 16th Cardno was found dead in their tenement house. The investigation revealed that she was beaten so badly that it broke every rib in her body. While she lay on the floor a kettle of boiling water was emptied over her head. The water was hot enough to boil her flesh and most of her scalp pulled way from her skull. Thankfully, the coroner felt that by the time the water was poured she was certainly unconscious and perhaps already dead from the beating.

Prockiw was arrested at the scene. He said that the two had quarreled and were drinking whisky and beer that day but claimed that he left to run errands and found her dead when he returned. He then went to a neighbour to call police.

Given his history of abusing Scotch Annie, Prockiw was charged with her murder later that week.

The trial lasted just a day and a half as there were no witnesses for the defense. Prockiw maintained that he was not the killer but on June 8, 1926 the all-male jury took just an hour and a half to unanimously convict him of murder. The following day he was sentence to hang.

August 26, 1929, Winnipeg Free Press

On this day in 1926 at 7:30 a.m. Prockiw was hanged at the Vaughan Street Jail but not without drama.

Dominion hangman 'Arthur Ellis', (the pseudonym of Arthur B. English), got his calculations wrong and when Prockiw dropped, instead of hanging, his head was torn from his body. It was not the first time English/Ellis miscalculated a job, nor would it be his last. A decade later the botched hanging of a female prisoner ended his career.

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