Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Chicken Thief with Intent to Murder! (Convict Interred at Boot Hill Cemetery)

Hello Friends,

Today the story I bring you is about a convict buried at New Westminster's Boot Hill Cemetery, belonging to the B.C. Penitentiary (decommissioned May 10, 1980, and demolished), with a bit of a twist. It took some time to put it together, but finally I believe I have enough information to present this most interesting and puzzling case.

Meet Convict #1948 - "Unknown Gim"
Photo by Kati - Convict #1948 (middle section, south edge)

I discovered "Gim" during a search in the BC Archives listed as "Unknown Gim". This fascinated me. Why would a man be marked as "unknown"? Would prison records have documentation his Identification? Or was he someone without such paperwork? His death certificate provided clues to begin the search.
Courtesy BC Archives - Gim (deceased May 31, 1914)
From the certificate we learn:
1) His name is marked as "Gim"
2) He was a laundry man
3) He was Chinese from Canton, China
4) Married
5) In prison for 9 weeks, in Canada 10 months
6) Date of Death: May 31, 1914 // Buried: June 1, 1914 (Age: 31)
7) A Physician attended him from April 4 to May 31, 1914
8) Cause of Death: Morphinomania & Disease of Mitral Valve (a disease in a valve located between the 2 left chambers of the heart, which works to keep blood flowing properly and provide oxygen filled blood to your body. When it stops working properly it can be life threatening if not treated immediately.)

Armed with this information, I went on a hunt for "Unknown Gim" and the crime which landed him in prison. In an article named "The B.C. Pen's Graveyard Secrets" I discovered Mr. Gim had an alias or two. Kim, also known as "Gin O Kim". Through Ancestry I learn Mr. Gin O Kim is also known as "Ung Wing". So many names! This would be a challenge. Gim, Kim, Gin, Ung Wing were some of the names I used to track this man's story down.

I began with 1914, where we know "Unknown Gim" has been in prison for 9 weeks. Searching all his aliases we landed on a true puzzle!
Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World (Mar.21, 1914) pg 2
Um Wing. There we have it!
Charged with "breaking and entering" and stealing goods valued at $300.00, (which in today's money would be valued at $6315.00 Canadian) thus sentenced to 3 years imprisonment with hard labour.

In 1914 the B.C Penitentiary had an overflowing number of prisoners at 376. The old structure could not hold many more, and plans for a new wing were put in place. The new addition was not finished construction until 1917 due to delays in receiving the locking mechanisms for each cell.

The above article gave us a big clue. Our convict had been to prison before. He was recognized with finger prints and body scars matching from a previous conviction. Now this is interesting. I had a feeling there was much more to "Gim" then imagined; whom we now know as Mr. "Um Wing".

Meet Convict #1948 - "Um Wing" aka "Gin O Kim" aka "Unknown Gim".

In the article above, we learn the penitentiary used a method for identifying criminals called the "Bertillon System". Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914) was a French Police Officer/Bio-metrics researcher/Criminologist, who came up with a technique used to identify criminals using body measurements. It was first introduced into the U.S.A. in 1887. This was superseded in the early 20th Century by the Fingerprinting Identification System.

For Mr. Wing's case, not only did they use fingerprint matches, but also identification of marks and scars on his body; and those were viewed in the Judge's private room. I cannot imagine how Mr. Wing must have felt when they discovered he was the same man convicted years earlier of another crime, although he continued to deny being the same man.

I began looking backwards. The article mentioned 1908 and a previous conviction of stealing chickens and wounding a constable. I was excited when article after article jumped out at me from the pages in the newspaper archive site. The earliest article I found was of most interest; however, the same article followed 2 days later but with a new headline. Below, find the original headline and the article printed 2 days later as it is of better quality:
Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World Headline (Feb.12, 1908) pg 1

Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World (Feb.14, 1908) pg 1
On the morning of February 12, 1908, shot pursuing a chicken thief, Officer Malcolm A. McLeod (new to the police force) stumbled into Knowlton's Drug Store at six o'clock. He was bleeding, weak and in shock; but able to blurt out a harrowing story of chase, arrest, shooting and escape, to an Officer who arrived on the scene.

To get a better idea of the area, we found that Knowlton's Drug Store was at 15 Hastings Street East, near Chinatown.
Courtesy Vancouver City Archives - Knowlton's Drug Store (circa 1920, AM1535) - Photographer: Stuart Thomson
Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World (Mar.17,1908) pg17 - Ad: Knowlton's
Officer Malcolm A. MacLeod's chase of the accused led through False Creek, across railroad tracks near Brackman-Ker Milling Co. warehouse. I found an old map of Vancouver (1903) and have added a visual into the legend to help you understand where this incident occurred:
1903 Vancouver City Map by Vancouver Tourist Association
As you can see above, the drugstore was not far from the railroad tracks at False Creek, and Chinatown was next door. The Cambie St. Bridge (marked with a red arrow) led south east out of the city centre.
Courtesy VPL: Brackman-Ker Milling Co (1927 #9077F) Photographer: Stuart Thomson
From the article we learn that McLeod, an unarmed plain clothed Officer, had been on "special duty" to find and locate chicken thieves in the area of Cambie St. He had followed two men from Chinatown towards the area, and lay low to see if they would return via the railroad tracks. He spotted the men with bags, suspecting they were stolen chickens, and was able to catch one man, handcuff his left hand, then lead him. He was an inexperienced Officer, and forgot, or didn't think, to search him. The man then whipped out a revolver (according to his testimony) with his right hand and fired; thus the Officer fell to the ground. This freed the man from the Officer's grasp, and he ran. McLeod dragged himself to Knowlton's Drug Store (the address I located was 15 E. Hastings St.) where he was able to relay his story to another Officer before he was taken to hospital. The bullet is reported to have travelled through McLeod's chin, neck and into his shoulder. A search was made through Chinatown and the railroad area, resulting in finding a pair of handcuffs on the tracks towards Cambie St. Bridge. Later that morning, a workman of the Brackman-Ker warehouse found the Officer's hat and the bags of chicken.

The Chinese Board of Trade and the Chinese Reform Association promptly met up and offered a $500 reward (which in today's money would be valued at $10,000 Canadian) for the capture of the suspect. Articles appeared in the Chinese Reform Gazette asking the community to aid in locating the suspect. This caused a stir in the community and all areas were searched from restaurants to homes. Although the suspect wasn't found, stolen fowl was identified in possession of others.

The story unfolds further in the following days.

Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World (Feb.17, 1908) pg 1
Five days after the incident the police, with the aid of the Chinese community, caught up with Ung Wing and placed him into custody. Detective Waddell found Ung Wing in a neighbouring community of Ladner. See the map of the area below to give you a better understanding:
Courtesy Google Maps - Ladner approximately 25 kms South of Chinatown
Ung Wing was identified as a chicken thief that had been missing from Chinatown since the incident. A sighting had been reported in Steveston (see above map), but was first thought to have travelled through New Westminster, then onward to Ladner. A search of a laundry in the area found the Chinese man (who had arrived the previous evening) hiding out. Identified by the men accompanying Detective Waddell, and by his own admission that he had been in Steveston, Ung Wing was quickly apprehended and brought up in police court on a charge of "attempted murder". Mr. Wing denied all guilt.
Courtesy BC Archives: GR-0419 - Police Court Document (Feb.17, 1908)
On February 18, 1908, the newspapers reported (see below) that Officer McLeod would have to provide identification of the man who shot him. As he was still recuperating, they hoped to have him in the police station within the next day or two, to pick the accused out of a line up. The stolen chickens were kept in the police station, with hopes of being returned to their owners shortly.

Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World (Feb.18, 1908) pg 1
A few days later, updates were provided in the Vancouver Daily World newspaper.

Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World (Feb.21, 1908) pg 1

Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World (Feb.21, 1908) pg 2
The case would go before the police court on February 22, 1908, allowing Ung Wing's solicitor, Mr. Elmer Jones, a day to prepare.
Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World (Feb.22, 1908) pg 2
The above article confirms that Ung Wing was brought before the police court on February 22, 1908, and after the preliminary hearing, was committed for trial. Below find excerpts of the hearing:
Courtesy BC Archives: GR-0419 - Police Court Doc (Feb.22, 1908) pg 1
Courtesy BC Archives: GR-0419 - Police Court Doc (Feb.22, 1908) pg 2

Courtesy BC Archives: GR-0419 - Police Court Doc (Feb.22, 1908) pg 3
Courtesy BC Archives: GR-0419 - Police Court Doc (Feb.22, 1908) pg 4
Courtesy BC Archives: GR-0419 - Police Court Doc (Feb.22, 1908) pg 5
The above excerpts are of Malcolm McLeod's testimony. Also called as witness for direct examination by J. K. Kennedy (for the prosecution) were:
Joseph Jordan --> who went with Detective Waddell to Foo Long's house in Ladner,
Detective A. Waddell,
Yip Sue -->(evidence interpreted by Mr. Cumyow) lived in the same house as Ung Wing and went to New Westminster & Ladner with the detective
Dr. MacKay --> physician who examined the Officer at the drug store and took him to the hospital,
and Mah Sing --> who also went with Detective Waddell to Ladner.
Courtesy BC Archives: GR-0419 - Police Court Doc (Feb.22, 1908) pg 22
Now we proceed to court, and on May 12, 1908, we receive news that a new trial could take place.
Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World (May 12, 1908) pg 5
Included in the Police Court Documents was the sentencing written by hand on the Assizes paper.
Courtesy BC Archives: GR-0419 - Police Court Doc-written in hand on last page
As you can read on the found document above on May 08, 1908, a trial took place. The jury retired at 2 p.m. and by 2:30 p.m. a verdict had been read of "guilty". It further reads that on May 13, 1908, it read that the "prisoner sentenced to 5 years in Penitentiary". Both dates appear to have a signature scrawled underneath, possibly "Allan QC".

The following newspaper report confirms the conviction of Ung Wing, now mispelled as "Ong Wing".
Courtesy - Vancouver Daily World (May19, 1908) pg 08
To learn more about Ung Wing's solicitor, Elmer Jones (Mar.23, 1874 - Aug.08, 1918), read this truly wonderful account about his extraordinary service in the Canadian Army: Elmer Jones.
Courtesy - Henderson's City Directory (1908)

We were very lucky to find a photograph taken in 1914-1915 of then "Acting Detective, M.A. McLeod".
Courtesy Vancouver City Archives - A-30-54 (1914-1915) Photographer: A.J. Selset
In an attempt to find out what happened to Malcolm A. McLeod, I found articles in the Vancouver Daily World dating to 1924 describing him as a Detective. When he died and where? I am still on the search for this information.

In the end, Ung Wing is sent to prison in 1908 for 5 years. We can assume he was released in 1913, only to find him in the news again in 1914. Although in 1908 the belief was that he stole chickens, his conviction was due to the "intent to murder"; and yet in 1914 he is convicted of "breaking and entering", which leads us to believe he did not change his ways to survive. Ung Wing's death certificate indicates he had been in the country 10 months before his date of death on May 31, 1914, which would be approximately August, 1913; however, this may not be the case, unless he went across the border to the U.S.A. directly after his release from prison. I have not found any documentation to support this.

Mr. Ung Wing, Unknown Gim, Kim O Gin, or whatever his true identity may be, can be found buried under the long grasses, brambles, and weeds of the Boot Hill Cemetery; famous for it's once hidden and abandoned identity.

Please tread with care should you visit this sacred site, and remember, even though the convicts buried at Boot Hill Cemetery were some of the most vicious of their day, we must lend respect to all. Ultimately, death is the final sentence.. or is it?

If you have not read any of our previous accounts, please check them out. Each convicts' story is filled with interesting facts, incredible adventures and emotional effect.
01) Meet Convict 1548 - Thompson
02) Meet Convict 2370 - Walsh
03) Meet Convict 2304 - Chinley
04) Meet Convict 1774 - Hinds
05) Meet Convicts 1628 - Herman Wilson + Unknown# - Joseph Smith
06) Meet Convict 1659 - Y. Yoshie
07) Meet Convict 1884 - Moses Paul
08) Meet Convict 2516 - Daniel Henrick Urick
09) Meet Convict 1948 - Unknown Gim
10) Meet Convict 2938 - Reginald John Colpitts
11) Meet Convict 5603 - Stephen Poole
12) Meet Convict 3130 - Harry Davis
13) Meet Convict 2312 - Albert Hill
14) Meet Convict Unknown# - Phillip Hopkins
15) Meet Convict #9720 - Norman Donald Bottineau
16) Meet Convict #2225 - Louie Num
17) Meet Convict #3237 - Harold Gordon McMaster
18) Meet Convict #4234 - Herbert Ross

Thank you for visiting our blog and enjoying yet another story. If you have any information to assist us in our research, please do not hesitate to contact us via our Website, and/or our Facebook Page. We'd love to hear from you, even if it's just to chat and/or exchange ideas.

Until next time,

Sources:; BC Archives;; Convict Deaths in the British Columbia Penitentiary, 1875-1916 (Ancestry Community); Bank of Canada (inflation calculator); Wikipedia; National Law Enforcement Museum; "Four Walls in the West" - Jack David Scott; "BC Pen's Graveyard Secrets"; Google Image search; Library and Archives Canada; Vancouver Public Library; BC City Directories (; Google Maps; Vancouver City Archives; Historic Places; 21stBattalion,ca.

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