Monday, July 17, 2017

Guilty! A Life In and Out of Prison.. (Convict Interred at Boot Hill Cemetery)

Hello Friends,

We take you on the journey of a young man who's life ended in an accident. What truly happened, we may never know; however, he became one of the convicts interred at the forgotten Boot Hill Cemetery in New Westminster, B.C. (1913-1967, used by the old B.C. Penitentiary, which was razed in 1980). Welcome to our fifteenth blog about the inmates buried at this unique cemetery.

Meet Convict #9720 - Norman Donald Bottineau
Photo by Kati - Jan16'2016 (lower part of cemetery)

In 1939 news rang out in the Prince George Citizen: "Pair Guilty in Theft Case." The headline suggested it was two people who had been accused, and thus our search for information of our convict began.
Courtesy Prince George Digitization - Pr. George Citizen (1939, Mar.09)
Norman Bottineau advised the court he had been hired by Mr. Cossitt to steal a cook stove, heater, table, two blankets and several other articles from Mr. Malgunas' home at 3:00 am on February 12, 1939. If I'd had to guess, it sounds like supplies for warmth and convenience were the focus of the theft, and may have taken several trips throughout the victim's home to gather all the items to be hauled off. I wonder if a vehicle had been waiting nearby.

One of the witnesses called before the Judge was Norman's mother, Lillian Bottineau.
Courtesy Prince George Digitization - Pr. George Citizen (1939, Mar.16)
Six days later, the same newspaper announced a sentence of 23 months in Oakalla Prison Farm to Norman Bottineau, with recommendation he be sent to Resthaven training school. Mr. Cossitt, who Norman claimed had hired him, was given 3 years in the B.C. Penitentiary for breaking and entering. Both had pled guilty.
Courtesy BC Archives - Circa 1940 Aerial of Prince George (Access.No.193501-001)
In the 1930's the B.C. Provincial Police were the policing body for the province until 1950. The force was established in 1858 when British Columbia was a colony, predating confederation.

Prince George, B.C., situated at the junction of Fraser and Nechako Rivers, and explored by Alexander MacKenzie in 1793, was established as a Fort in 1807. It was named Fort George (for King George 111) by Simon Fraser (American explorer) and was operated by the Northwest Company (later merged with Hudson's Bay trading company). The area had been occupied by Carrier First Nation for thousands of years prior to European settlement, and today the local band, Lheidli T'Enneh (Lheidli meaning "where the two rivers flow together" and T'Enneh meaning "the people"), traditional territory stretches over 4.3 million hectares from the Rocky Mountains to the interior plateau, including the city. Prince George, incorporated in 1915 after arrival of the railway, is known as the "Northern Capital of B.C." and plays an important role in the province's economy and culture.

Herbert Gwyn Cossitt, through records found at the Ancestry website, was born on April 30, 1896, in Brockville, Ontario. He was 42 years of age at sentencing. Throughout the years prior to this incident, Herbert had experienced the first part of the century in Leeds County, Ontario, and after his marriage in 1915 had moved to South Dakota. In 1917 he had registered in the USA civilian draft for WW1. In 1921 Mr. Cossitt is noted to be back in Leeds County, Ontario. Records indicate Mr. Cossitt travelled back and forth across the Canada-USA border from time to time. How he ended up in northern British Columbia is not known. However his death certificate tells us he was divorced, an engineer, and died in Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace, B.C. on August 25, 1975, due to a cardiac arrest. His body is interred at Two Mile Cemetery in Hazelton, B.C. No children were found as part of his legacy.

Norman Donald Bottineau came from a rather large family; but first let's move on to what may have happened and was reported about his life, before we introduce his ancestry.

In search of Resthaven Industrial School (as mentioned by Judge H.E.A. Robertson in the above article) I found a place for the elderly, or seniors of our society, called Resthaven Sanitorium. This could not have been the place the Judge was talking about. So I went in search of an Industrial School meant for boys and came across BISCO (Boys' Industrial School Coquitlam), which was also known as the B.C. Industrial School for Delinquent Boys. I also discovered a "Newhaven" described as a "Young Offenders Unit" at Oakalla Prison Farm, but it was not established until the 1950s.
Courtesy BC Archives - BISCO - Assess.No.193501-001 (photo: 1950's)
A further description of the school is found in the B.C. Archives:
Courtesy BC Archives - Ministry of Justice, March 2015 (updated Nov.08, 2016)
An article posted in the Riverview Hospital Blogs (link listed under "Sources") about the school, proves to be interesting:
Courtesy Riverview Hospital Blogs (link in sources) - Nov.07, 1924 - Coquitlam News
Norman Donald Bottineau was born on January 28, 1920. He would've been 19 years of age at time of his sentence. Was he immature? Considered a juvenile at his age? The first article we found described him as "youthful".

In a section called "Health and Welfare" of the Daily Colonist, a Victoria B.C. newspaper, it described how "juvenile delinquency" was being handled at the time. I've clipped out a portion of the lengthy article below.
Courtesy - Daily Colonist (June 11, 1939)
We may assume Norman Donald Bottineau, if sent to BISCO, was taught a trade and after 23 months he was released out into society. This, however, cannot be confirmed without records, which are unavailable to us at this time.
If Norman did not attend the school, then he would have served his time at Oakalla Prison Farm in Burnaby, B.C.

Oakalla Prison Farm opened on September 2, 1912. From 1919 to 1959, 44 prisoners had been executed by hanging at the prison, the last one being on April 28, 1959. Capital punishment was abolished in Canada in 1976. In 1970, Oakalla Prison Farm was renamed the Lower Mainland Regional Correction Centre, which then closed on June 30, 1991. Overcrowding was an ongoing issue. It had originally been designed to hold 150 male and 50 female prisoners, but in 1962-1963 it held over 1200 prisoners, and averaged 600+. The prison had it's own dairy, vegetable gardens and livestock as a working farm.
Courtesy - Item No. 134-002, Oakalla Prison Farm (1950's)
Courtesy City of Vancouver Archives -
Ref.Code AM1184-S1-CVA 1184-2268, photo Jack Lindsay (1940-48)
Norman would have been released around February 1941 at the age of 21 years.

Through research I located Norman's "marriage certificate", indicating he was living in the city of Vancouver, B.C. and married Hattie M Sawyer (21 years old) on May 04, 1941. On the same document, typed underneath the header, a statement indicates the marriage was dissolved on October 10, 1946, in New Westminster, B.C.
Courtesy - Marriage Certificate - May 04, 1941
The marriage certificate lists Norman's occupation as "cook", and provides us with information about his family. We will explore this further on. I searched the address of 1070 Hornby Street, Vancouver, B.C. in the B.C. Directory Listings. The land now holds an apartment complex with stores and businesses at street level. Back in the 1940's, a house may have stood on the land; however, I could not find any Bottineau listed there. Instead, there was a residential listing for Oscar and Bessie Nelson. Oscar was a mechanic born in Vancouver. His father was Swedish, while his mother was English. Bessie was born in Scotland and listed her occupation as housewife. She had previously been divorced and married Oscar in 1935.
I located a listing for Hattie Bottineau, Norman's wife, in New Westminster, B.C. at her mother's home for the following year of 1942.
Courtesy - BC Directories - New Westminster Listings (1942)
Perhaps the marriage between Norman and Hattie did not survive the year. Hattie is found in the 1945 directory living at that same address. No records were found for Norman Bottineau in New Westminster, Vancouver, Victoria or Nanaimo, B.C. Where he may have resided is unclear.

Out of the blue, I found an article which was announced from Richmond, B.C. that Norman had committed another offence. Where he served his sentence was not released. I searched the B.C. Directories, and found a "D Bottineau" listed in 1945, Steveston, a district of Richmond known for its fishing community.
Courtesy - Vancouver Sun (Jul.18, 1945) pg03
Norman received a three year sentence for "statutory offence" against a 13 year old girl. He had pled guilty.

Three years later, a newspaper article implicated our convict of another crime.
Courtesy - Daily Colonist (June 15, 1948)
Courtesy - Nanaimo Daily News (Jun.15, 1948) pg05
The newspaper clippings tells us that Norman was charged with "statutory offence" and bail was set at $5000.00 Cdn. Today, this amount is valued at $55,042 Cdn.

Statutory Offence - a crime to knowingly cause another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat. (definition:

In Canada from 1892 to 2008, the legal consent of minor was 14. It was raised to age 16 in 2008.

Courtesy - Daily Colonist (Oct.15, 1948)
With the above article we learn that Norman had been charged in Port Alberni, B.C. and brought to court in Nanaimo, B.C. Both cities are situated on Vancouver Island.
Lumber and plentiful fishing put Port Alberni on the map in the mid-19th century as European settlers began to arrive. It sits in the Alberni Valley on a narrow saltwater channel named Alberni Inlet, and is part of the traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth (known as Nootka by Europeans) First Nation (translation: "all along the mountains and sea"). The town was incorporated in 1912 when the railway arrived.
Courtesy BC Archives - 1950, Port Alberni aerial (Access.No.199003-004)
Nanaimo was inhabited by the Snunehymuyx (pronounced "Snuh-NAY-moo"), Coast Salish people, for thousands of years. With the discovery of coal in the area, in 1852 the Hudson's Bay Company sent miners and a year later built Fort Bastion to protect the harbour and area. It was incorporated in 1874, and by 1886 the railway had been completed to the area. 

Courtesy - Nanaimo Daily News (Oct.12, 1948) pg01
Courtesy - Nanaimo Daily News (Oct.14, 1948) pg01
Courtesy - Nanaimo Daily News (Oct.15, 1948) pg01
The Nanaimo Daily News reported regularly on their first page about the progress of Norman's court case. Charged with a "sex crime", we learn that experts in the medical field were called to testify, along with evidence of hair, clothing, wood slivers and sawdust particles presented. Science played a role in ensuring the Jury had all facts in front of them in order to make an informed decision.
Courtesy - Nanaimo Daily News (Oct.16, 1948) pg01
On October 16, 1948, we learn the Jury convicted Norman D Bottineau of "statutory sex charge". The trial had lasted two days.
Courtesy - Nanaimo Daily News (Oct.23, 1948) pg01
Courtesy - Daily Colonist (Oct.24, 1948)
October 23rd and 24th, 1948, announced a number of disturbing facts about Norman. He had been sentenced 3 years to prison for "statutory offence" (upon a young girl) prior to the 1948 sentencing, and had been released in 1947. Searching all records available online, we could not find anything to confirm this. The articles also advise he had been sentenced (between 1937-1947) for several charges including "breaking and entering", "burglary", "theft", "cheque charges" and "sex crime" offences, and confirmed Norman had attended BISCO (Boys' Industrial School in Coquitlam) as was recommended in his sentencing of 1939.

Norman made some odd requests to the Judge prior to sentencing: blaming liquor and women as his downfall, he asked to be put on a liquor interdiction list; he also requested a physical operation which would render him impotent for the rest of his life. Of course, he did state he was innocent before making the strange statements.

The "smirking" Norman Donald Bottineau was sentenced to seven years, and ordered to be whipped twice with five paddling sessions included each time on October 22, 1948. He would be released around October 1955. Records to indicate which jail or prison (Oakalla Prison Farm or B.C. Penitentiary) he had been incarcerated to were not found.

As for his punishment of whipping and paddling, the Cat-o'-Nine-Tails was often used for whipping while the convict was secured in standing position to a wooden X frame by his feet and hands. A leather strap was used for paddling while the convict was secured bending over onto a wooden table. One prisoner wrote about his experiences describing the punishment as: "It was brutal, and it was horrible". This type of punishment was used in Canadian Federal and Provincial prisons until 1967.

1954, news about Norman is reported again. We gather his sentence from 1948 was cut short.
Courtesy - Richmond Review (Nov.17, 1954) pg02
Once more Norman is sentenced, this time for molestation of a juvenile, and is sentenced to two years in prison.

Norman is once again in trouble in 1958.
Courtesy - Province (May 09, 1958) pg21
Courtesy - Province (Jun.02, 1958) pg25
Arrested in May on a routine automobile check in Vancouver, after a warrant was issued, Norman is committed for trial on the serious charge of "rape" against a 12 year old girl from September 1957.
Courtesy - Province (Jun.21, 1958) pg35
Norman is sentenced to 9 years + 6 months in the penitentiary. The news article above, described how Norman took the young girl on her bicycle to an area where he sexually attacked her; and also described his previous convictions in 1945, and 1948. Justice Brown (the Judge) described Norman's crime was committed by trickery and stealth.

Our next report of Norman D. Bottineau is found in a document dated September 05, 1958.
Courtesy - Oakalla to Essondale (Sep.05, 1958)
This document indicates that Norman was convicted and sentenced to prison (Oakalla) on June 20, 1958, to nine years and six months for "statutory offence" with a minor, and was found mentally ill, thus removed from the "gaol" and sent to Essondale (the Provincial Mental Hospital, now known as "Riverview", in Coquitlam, B.C.) until his complete or partial recovery was certified. Bottineau appealed his sentence shortly after.
Courtesy - Vancouver Sun (Oct.10, 1958) pg27
Clearly Norman had a problem with sex crimes, some involving underage girls. It is not known if he was placed into Essondale, and if so, when he would have been released; nor if he was returned to prison to serve out the rest of his sentence (if any time remaining). His sentence would've kept him incarcerated until 1967. After the 1958 document we could not locate any further articles/documents providing us with information until his death.

Due to overcrowding in the Provincial Asylum for the Insane, the government purchased land in Coquitlam, B.C. in 1904 which became Essondale. Today it is known as Riverview Hospital. Originally they put patients in temporary housing. By 1913, the building that would be named "West Lawn" began treatment for the most seriously ill male patients. Originally built to house 480 patients, by the end of the year, it serviced over 900. Throughout the 1920's to 1950's, several other buildings were opened to house the chronic mentally ill, psychopathic, female chronic, tuberculosis and more. By 1956 the hospital had over 4300 patients, but the number began to decline in the mid-1960s, and finally in July 2012 it was closed.

I remember driving through the large estate and lands in the 1970s, awestruck at it's immense size and beautiful gardens. I also recall the feelings of fear and the unknown as to what may be going on behind the doors of the many buildings. Stories of abandonment, abuse, lobotomies and more influenced my teenage mind at the time. There may be some truth to a few stories, but I'm sure there were difficult times as well as good times in the hospital's history. To learn more I encourage you to check out the Riverview Hospital Blogspot.
Photo by Kati - Oct.01'2016 - West Lawn Building
Photo by Kati - Oct.01'2016 - East Lawn Building
Courtesy BC Archives - (circa 1947) Men's Building, Access.No.193501-001
Today, some of the buildings are still in use. The government announced in 2015 that new buildings would be constructed for mental health facilities to reopen in 2019. The filming industry uses vacant buildings for projects (TV shows and movies) such as X-Files, Supernatural, Smallville, Prison Break and more. Chances are, if you've watching a horror movie you've seen the inside of some of the buildings, and stories of "hauntings" have emerged.

Let's recap what we have learned about Norman Donald Bottineau:
1939 - Breaking and Entering, Theft sentence (23 months sentence);
Between 1941-1945 -  Breaking and Entering (where & how long he served for this is not known);
1945 - Statutory Offence (3 years sentence);1948 - Statutory Offence (7 years sentence including 2 whippings + 5 paddlings each time);
1954 - Molestation of a Juvenile (2 years)
1958 - Statutory Offence (9 years + 6 months sentence, removed from prison in Sep.1958, and sent to Essondale Hospital due to mental illness).
Missing - Cheque Charges mentioned in 1948 news article.

Norman Donald Bottineau's death certificate tells us his life was cut short, but not while in prison.
Courtesy BC Archives-Genealogy: Death Certificate (deceased Oct.07, 1962)
On October 7, 1962, Norman Donald Bottineau died of injuries he received in a motor vehicle accident. He had been travelling in a truck which skidded and hit a stump. There was one other occupant who had been injured. The location of the accident was in the Fraser Valley near the communities of Harrison Hotsprings and Agassiz, on Seabird Island Road. The highway is in the area where once a work camp for B.C. Penitentiary was situated, and is not far from the Mountain Institute prison which opened in 1962. Was Norman part of the camp or the institution? If he was serving his full sentence, he would not have been released from prison at the time of his death.
Courtesy - Province (Oct.27, 1962) pg02
I located a newspaper article about the "accident" (above). It confirmed Norman was an inmate at the working camp at Agassiz Corrections. The truck he sat in the back of with another prisoner, hit a stump and flipped over on its side. He had been transferred from Chilliwack General Hospital to Vancouver General Hospital when he died.

Family did not claim his body; therefore, on October 12, 1962, Norman was laid to rest in Boot Hill Cemetery, which sits on a sloped piece of land with a view of the Fraser River to the south.

Information provided to us on Norman's death certificate assisted in locating his family roots.
* Norman's father, Louis David Bottineau, was born July 19, 1872, to Severei Bottineau (from Minnesota) and Julia Chenevert (from Wisconsin) in Osseo Village, Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA.
* The 1900 USA Census confirms Louis married Della S. Dodge (born approximately 1875) in 1891, had one daughter (Eunice - age 7) and two sons (Leonard - age 5 and Albert - age 2), and was still residing in the same village.
* A marriage certificate states the union of Louis and Della was on November 6, 1891.
* In 1911, a Canadian Census tells us Louis and Della had moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, and had added to their family several children: Archie (12), Louie (8), Helen (6), and Iona (4), all born in the USA. However, Eunice was no longer listed, and Leonard was 17, while Albert was 14 years of age.
* On April 24, 1916, a Canadian WW1 Over-seas Expeditionary Force Attestation Paper is signed by Louis indicating he was still with Della, confirms his birthdate and place, had an occupation of Carpenter and Cook, and was living in Lone Butte, B.C. (a small community in the province's interior).
* In 1919, Ancestry confirms that Louis married Lillian Victoria Swansborough. What happened to Della is not known. Louis and Lilly went on to have six children together: Norman (born 1920), Marguerite (born 1921), Rose (born 1923), Valerie (born 1927), Denzil (born 1929), and William (born 1932).
* When the Bottineau family moved to Prince George, B.C. is not clear; but a 1929, ad in the Prince George Citizen confirms that Louis owned his own cafe.
Courtesy Prince George Digitization - Pr. George Citizen (1929, Jan.17)
* Louis David Bottineau passed away on January 2, 1944, at home with his family after an illness kept him confined to bed for three years. Was Norman with his family during this time? We cannot confirm this. Remember, we had learned of his release from prison in 1947; but were unable to confirm the dates and length of his incarcerations for the two crimes of his convictions . Therefore, it's most likely he was not with his family at the time. The article below announced Louis' death, and that he had served in the Canadian Armed Forces until 1918. Perhaps his first wife, Della, passed away during this time or directly after his return.
Courtesy Prince George Digitization - Pr. George Citizen (1944, Jan.06)
I have put together a map of Norman's movements using the information uncovered.
Courtesy Google Maps - Norman Donald Bottineau's Life & Death
Here we end the turbulent life story of our convict. Why Norman became a young man who spent half of his life in and out of prison we may never understand. It ended just as wildly as it began, receiving the ultimate life sentence. Death.

To read our previous blogs about convicts buried at Boot Hill Cemetery, please use the below links. We warn you the stories are often harrowing and disturbing, but give us a good idea of who these men were and present us with a peek into Canadian history.
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 taking this journey with us. We'd love to hear from you. Please join us in conversation at our Facebook Page, comment to this blog, or email us through our Website. If you have any information concerning any of the convicts and those yet to present to you, please email us!

Til next time,

Sources: Prince George Digitization;; BC Archives; Riverview Hospital Blogs (namely: );;;; Agassiz-Harrison Observer; Google Maps; City of Vancouver Archives;;;;; Wikipedia;; HelloBC;;; (The Canadian Prison Strap);;
Note: Photos by Kati are the property of Kati Ackermann Webb and Vancouver Spooks Paranormal Investigations (VSPI) and may not be used or copied without written permission.

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