Posts tagged #murder

Rev. W. C. Calder

Dates: b. Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1852 d. September 1931

Keywords: Presbyterian Church, Tonka Farm, Big Eddy, Alice Calder, David Calder

Cemetery Location: Block C, Row 13, Plot 18

William Caldwell Calder entered the ministry at an early age, moving his wife, Alice Mary Calder (nee Trump), and children west in the mid-1890s. He accepted the ministry position at Revelstoke Presbyterian Church in 1900. When a second Presbyterian church was established, Rev. Calder took over the ministry of St. Andrew’s Church. He retired when the two churches united in 1910.

Upon retirement, Mr. Calder began farming his land ‘Tonka Farm,’ at the Big Eddy amid the mountain scenery they all loved so much.  In 1915, the family purchased a valuable herd of Ayrshire cows to enter the dairy business. When the shortage of feed over winter became evident, the family built a silo the following summer – the first of its kind in the Revelstoke district.

After a brief illness, Mr. Calder died in 1931, at the age of 80. Alice Calder died in 1957 at the age of 94. The Calders had seven sons and three daughters: Bruce, Donald, Merle, Rex, William, James, David, Margaret, Martha, and a daughter who died prior to moving to British Columbia.

David Calder was shot by his brother-in-law, Thomas Allen, at the Allen’s Big Eddy residence on 20 July 1924. He died of his injuries at the Queen Victoria Hospital on 6 August 1924, at the age of 41, leaving behind a wife and four children.

The Calder family, date unknown.

The Calder family, date unknown.

Tonka Farm, Big Eddy, September 1963.

Tonka Farm, Big Eddy, September 1963.

Frank Julian (Juliano)

Dates: b. Italy, 1952 d. Revelstoke, 21 September 1910

Cemetery location: Block H, Row 31, Plot 29


Frank Julian was born Francesco Juliano in Italy. The family came to Revelstoke in 1894, settling on a farm on the lower loop road just south of town. In 1904, they built and moved into a home at 411 Second Street East. Before coming to Revelstoke, Julian had lived in Chicago and San Francisco. It was believed that he had crossed the “Black Hand” at some point.

In July 1909, Julian’s son-in-law, Frank Orsetti, was the victim of a stabbing outside the Julian home. The assailants were caught and sent to prison.

The following year in September 1910, Frank was clearing his farmland near the Illecillewaet River when he met up with three Italian transients who agreed to help him for board and pay. He left the house on Second Street on 21 September 1910, telling his family he would be back that evening. The next day he had not returned, and his family contacted the police, who sent out a search party. Louis Cashato discovered Frank’s body, covered with brush near his clearing.

Julian had been attacked from behind with one of his own axes, receiving a deep gash in the head and another across the throat. His forehead had been marked with a black cross, which could not be removed. This was believed to be the mark of the Black Hand. A piece of his skin was sent to Ottawa for identification, and it was determined only that it was a corrosive substance.

The murder was never solved. The three men who planned to work for him were found and cleared.

Jennie Kiobara (Kiohara)

Dates: b. Japan, 1881 d. Revelstoke, 1905

Cemetery location: Block F, Row 3, Plot 26


Jennie was a 24-year old Japanese woman working as a prostitute on Front Street. She had been in Revelstoke since at least 1903, based on the city police reports. On 19 April 1905, she was found murdered in her house. 

There was no such thing as publication bans then, and the newspaper reported the murder in graphic detail:

“The woman’s throat was cut in front and there was a frightful gash on the back of the neck so that the head was nearly severed from the body.  The woman’s hands were cut and hacked where she had struggled to obtain possession of the knife or ward off the work of the assassin, whose butchery was of the fiendish description…” 

The murderer was compared to Jack the Ripper. The paper went on to describe the murder scene and the knife used. Wah Chung, a wealthy Chinese merchant who owned the house Jennie lived in, paid for Jennie’s tombstone. It was believed that he had had a romantic relationship with Jennie, as well as being her pimp. He was under suspicion for her death, but was never charged.

There is a story that someone, a white man, confessed to Jennie’s death many years later on his deathbed. The information was given to the local police who told the widow of the man who had been police chief at the time. The woman asked the current police officer to tell Wah Chung, since he had been under suspicion for so many years. According to the story, after Wah Chung was told, he said, “Now I can die in peace,” and he passed away within a few months. There is no way of knowing whether this story is true.

Tragically, Jennie was taken from her home in Japan to work as a prostitute in Canada, and then treated with contempt by the Japanese community. The story in the Kootenay Mail ends with this sad commentary: 

“The Japanese and women of the neighbourhood refuse to assist the police by giving information. The Japanese say that the woman was no good and not worth hanging a man for.”