A few months ago I was reading up on the most (allegedly) haunted places in Saskatchewan, as one does, and came upon a haunted courthouse in Kerrobert.
According to the town website, “there are rumours that the courthouse is haunted. People have heard whispering voices in otherwise empty rooms, and footsteps ascending the main stairway.” They attribute the ghost to an old skull that was kept locked in the basement Evidence Room, apparently dating back to a 1931 murder trial defended by John G. Diefenbaker. (Canada’s 13th prime minister for my non-Canadian friends.)
Of course, my brain working the way it does, I immediately went on the hunt to uncover the details of said murder. (What can I say? If you mention murder around me, I will ask for the details.)
Those details, however, proved elusive. After doing some googling and research of my own, I reached out to my local library to see if they had any information on the subject, hoping they might be able to dig up something from their archives.
First of all, the librarian who helped me was amazing. Seriously, God bless librarians and libraries everywhere. She informed me that she only found one murder trial in Kerrobert in 1931, but it didn’t involve Diefenbaker and sent me all the newspaper articles she found on the murder and its subsequent trial.
The murder involved two well known farmers in Rosetown who got into a scuffle after a unity league meeting. During the fight, one of the farmers produced a knife and stabbed the other, who died in the hospital four days later.
It didn’t seem like the type of crime where a skull would be produced as evidence.
Figuring that perhaps they got the date wrong, I concentrated on the only other detail listed on the town website. John G. Diefenbaker.
More googling later, I found a paper written by a law librarian (Librarians! For the win!) at the University of Saskatchewan on the legal career of Diefenbaker. And although he indeed defended some interesting murder trials, it didn’t appear that he’d been involved in any murder trials in Kerrobert.
In a last ditch effort to get some answers, I emailed the Diefenbaker Center for their thoughts and the town of Kerrobert, asking them to pass on my email to their historical society to see if they’d be able to shed some light on the mystery, or send me some news articles about the supposed murder trial.
Several months have passed now and I’ve heard nothing back, but my curiosity hasn’t abated. Plus, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic and I don’t really have much else to do.
So, I emailed my lovely, local library again and asked them to send me any news articles they have on murder trials in Kerrobert between 1925 and 1935. If there’s any mention of a skull, I’m going to find it.
And yes, you better believe I’ll be keeping you apprised of any interesting murders I find along the way.
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