Good Fences Make Good Neighbours: The Murder of George Legebokoff

Main Street, Pelly, Saskatchewan, 1902 – The Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists

It was around 10:30PM on the evening of Monday, April 21, 1930, that Dr. D. Baldwin received a frantic call from Mary Legebokoff. She urged Dr. Baldwin to come to their farm, telling him that her father, George Legebokoff was badly hurt.

When Dr. Baldwin arrived at the Legebokoff farm an hour later, he found George Legebokoff in very serious condition. George was unconscious and his face and head were covered with blood. He had a large lump on the left side of his head, and as he continued his examination, he discovered that a piece of George’s skull had been pushed into his brain, leaving a hole about one square inch in size. George’s pulse was weak and irregular and Dr. Baldwin wasn’t sure he’d survive the night.

The following day, George was examined by Dr. Tran, who immediately ordered that he be taken to the Kamsack hospital. At about 3:30 in the afternoon, He and Dr. Skafel operated on George and removed the piece of bone from his brain. It had been imbedded more than half an inch.

Despite these efforts, Dr. Tran’s hopes for George’s recovery were slim, and at 1:30AM on the morning of April 23, 1930, George Legebokoff died of his injuries. He never regained consciousness.

But how did George Legebokoff receive such a traumatic head injury? It all came down to a fight over a fence.

The Regina Leader-Post – April 23, 1930

According to George’s daughter, Mary Legebokoff, on the evening of April 21, 1930, she and three of her brothers, her sister-in-law and her nephew were all in the car on their way back from Pelly, Saskatchewan. Their farm was just eight and a half miles from Pelly, with their land adjoining that of Alex Legebokoff, a distant cousin of her father. The homes were about three hundred yards apart and were separated by a fence, with a gate between the two properties.

They arrived at the gate at about 10:00PM and tried to pass through to get to their property. It had been nailed shut. So, they drove along the fence a short distance and Mary got out and pulled out one of the fence posts. She was in the act of pulling another out of the ground so that her brother could drive the car across into their own land, when Alex Legebokoff’s wife showed up and chased Mary with a shovel. Alex came out of the house after his wife and began swearing and arguing with William Legebokoff, who’d been driving the car.

William later stated that Alex had thrown a stick and a shovel at him, so in return he’d thrown a stone at Alex.

At this point, George Legebokoff had heard the arguing, and came out of his house. According to Mary, he told Alex, “Alex, we must not quarrel, we must be good friends because we are neighbours,” to which Alex replied, “No. This is the last day you are going to live.”

Mary stated that at this point, Alex grabbed the fence post from the ground and struck her father over the head with it.

During this entire scene, there’d been another car pulled up behind William Legebokoff’s. It was occupied by George and Andrew Bowolin. George Bowolin testified that he had seen Alex Legebokoff strike George with some object he couldn’t see. And Alex’s hired man, Mike Bedinoff, also stated that on that night he’d seen George with a stick in his hand, then saw Alex bend down and pick something up. Shortly after, he heard Mary Legebokoff crying that her father had been killed.

A Coroner’s Inquest was held immediately after George’s death, and it didn’t take long for the jury to find that ‘George Legebokoff met his death from the effects of a blow from a blunt instrument delivered by Alex Legebokoff’. Naturally, following the inquest, Alex Legebokoff was charged with murder and remanded to appear at a preliminary hearing scheduled for 10:00AM, Monday, April 28, 1930 at the Pelly hall. He was committed to stand trial at the next sitting of the Court of King’s Bench at Yorkton and was taken to the Regina jail to await his trial.

The Regina Leader-Post – April 25, 1930

The trial opened on May 20, 1930 in Yorkton, before Justice D. Mclean of Saskatoon. J. G. Banks represented the defense and F. C. Wilson represented the crown. It was a short trial, despite a large number of witnesses, and after six hours of deliberation, the jury delivered their verdict in the late evening of May 21, 1930. They found Alex Legebokoff guilty of manslaughter.

On May 26, 1930, Justice D. Mclean sentenced Alex Legebokoff to seven years at the Prince Albert Penitentiary.

It was never made clear what led Alex Legebokoff to nail the gate shut. Had there been ongoing arguments or bad blood between the neighbours? I certainly can’t imagine it came out of nowhere. But either way, that is the story of the murder of George Legebokoff.

The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix – May 21, 1930

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Information for this post came from the following editions of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and the Regina Leader-Post: April 23, 1930, April 25, 1930, April 29, 1930, May 1, 1930, May 20, 1930, May 21, 1930, May 22, 1930, May 26, 1930.

If you’d like to read more historical true crime stories from Saskatchewan, give these a try:

Killed On Duty: The Murder of Constable George Lenhard

Dead in His Bed: Murder in Wakaw

The Man on the Fence: The Murder of Michael Kaminsky

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