TRACKING THE NOTORIOUS MINER

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          HEALTH                                          I C6                SCIENCE                                                I C7              BOOKS                                                 I C8
          Understanding just                                                 Canada’s growing                                                         The visuals are spectac-
          how difficult it is for an                                         obsession with soccer is                                                 ular in a big new book
          Alzheimer’s patient to                                             not without its risks. B.C.                                              celebrating Vancouver
          cope on a daily basis is                                           researchers believe that                                                 architect Richard Hen-
          a little easier thanks to                                          knee injuries suffered                                                   riquez. His 40-year body
          a simple method of                                                 prior to adulthood                                                       of work, remarkable for
          simulating on healthy                                              triples the chances of                                                   its sensitivity to place
          people the effects of                                              developing osteoarthri-                                                  and the past, is on full
          the disease.                                                       tis later in life.                                                       display.



        WEEKEND REVIEW EDITOR ST E P H E N S N E LG ROV E                                S AT U R DAY, J U N E 24 , 2 0 0 6                                                       E - m a i l : ssnelgrove@png.canwest.com




A train robber thought to be Bill Miner and his accomplices in custody after their arrest near Kamloops one hundred years ago. The bandit insisted he was George Edwards of Princeton.




             W E E K E N D

            EXTRA                                     TRACKING THE
                                                     NOTORIOUS MINER
                                               HISTORY I    The infamous Bill Miner, who pulled off Canada’s biggest train robbery,
                JOHN MACKIE
                  VANCOUVER SUN
                                                          was a charming sociopath who remains highly elusive, even in death
                                                         ne hundred years ago, a                                                                                               says he was born in Bowling Green,

           His real name
           was Ezra Allen
           Miner. He was
                                           O             60-year-old remnant of
                                                         t h e A m e r i c a n Wi l d
                                                         West pulled off Cana-
                                                         da’s most infamous
                                           train robbery near Kamloops.
                                              Bill Miner was quickly appre-
                                           hended, convicted and sentenced to
                                                                                                                                                                               Ky., in 1847 and that his real sur-
                                                                                                                                                                               name was McDonald. One book
                                                                                                                                                                               even claims he was gay.
                                                                                                                                                                                 Grauer spent six years trying to
                                                                                                                                                                               find the truth.
                                                                                                                                                                                 “His real name was Ezra Allen
                                                                                                                                                                               Miner,” says Grauer. “He was born
           born in 1846 in                 life in prison, all within three weeks                                                                                              in 1846 in Vevay Township, Ingham
                                           of the robbery. But a century later,                                                                                                County, Michigan [near Lansing].
           Vevay Township,                 the legend remains strong, having                                                                                                   By the age of 10 or 11 his father had
                                           inspired several books and the                                                                                                      died and his mother took him to
           Ingham County,                  movie The Grey Fox.                                                                                                                 California. That’s where he was
           Michigan [near                     Now a private Bill Miner archive
                                           has surfaced, with a Canadian Pacif-
                                                                                                                                                                               raised and got his lawless ways. He
                                                                                                                                                                               got a taste of the good life in the
           Lansing]. By the                ic Railway official’s diary docu-                                                                                                   fandango parlours in San Francisco.
                                           menting Miner’s robbery, chase and                                                                                                  A fandango is a Mexican siesta-type
           age of 10 or 11 his             arrest — and 11 original pho-                                                                                                       celebration that was used as a
                                           tographs shot when the outlaw and                                                                                                   euphemism for a bordello.”
           father had died                 his cohorts were taken back to                                                                                                        Miner got involved in criminal
           and his mother                  Kamloops for trial.                                                                                                                 activities as a teenager, starting out
                                              One of the photos is the iconic                                                                                                  rustling horses, before graduating
           took him to                     image of the moustachioed Miner
                                           in his broad-brimmed cowboy hat,
                                                                                                                                                                               to robbing stagecoaches.
                                                                                                                                                                                 But he kept getting caught, and
           California. That’s              staring into the camera. But there is                                                                                               wound up serving 33 years in U.S.
                                           another virtually unknown shot of                                                                                                   prisons in the late 1800s. When he
           where he was                    Miner with his hat off, hair tousled,                                                                                               emerged from San Quentin in 1901
                                           his pale forehead in sharp contrast                                                                                                 he was 55, and hopelessly out of
           raised and got his              to his tanned face.                                                                                                                 step with a changed world.
           lawless ways.                      Looking at the photo, it’s hard to                                                                                                 Stagecoaches were passé, so he
                                           believe Miner was a notorious out-                                                                                                  started robbing trains.
           AUTHOR                          law who spent most of his adult life                                                                                                  “He attempted to rob his first one
           PETER GRAUER                    in prison. Frankly, he looks like an                                                                                                in the States but it didn’t go off
                                           amiable old farmer. But that was                                                                                                    well,” said Grauer.
           On the early life               part of Miner’s allure.                                                                                                               “The one he botched in 1903 was
           of Bill Miner                      Bill Miner has gone down in his-                                                                                                 in Corbett, Oregon. Some of [the
                                           tory as a “gentleman bandit” who                                                                                                    robbers] were wounded and cap-
                                           may have robbed trains, but never                                                                                                   tured, but he managed to get away.”
                                           resorted to violence. Many people            Legendary train robber Bill Miner in custody after being caught in the                   Miner vamoosed to Canada,
                                           even sympathized with him                                                                                                           where he masterminded a train rob-
                                           because they hated the Canadian              bush near Kamloops 100 years ago. This is one of four photos of                        bery at Silverdale, near Mission, on
                                           Pacific Railway.                             Miner taken by professional photographer Mary Spencer of Kamloops.                     Sept. 10, 1904. (It is widely reported
                                              “He was a charming rogue,”                                                                                                       to be Canada’s first train robbery,
                                           states Peter Grauer, who has just                                                                                                   but Grauer says there was actually
                                           self-published a new book, Interred          can lie easily, and the fruits of their   of San Quentin Prison near San               an earlier one in Ontario.)
                                           With Their Bones, Bill Miner In              labour, which are obtained illegally,     Francisco identified him as Bill               “He got close to $7,000 in cash
                                           Canada, 1903 to 1907.                        they’re very generous with. They’re       Miner, and he had the same tattoo            and gold,” said Grauer.
                                              “But underneath it all is some-           hail-fellows-well-met.”                   o f a d a n c i n g g i r l a s M i n e r.     “Then he pulled off another one
                                           thing a little more sinister.”                 Before we go any further, we            Miner is an elusive fellow, even in          in the States north of Seattle [in
                                              Grauer labels Miner a                     should note that the man arrested         death. Some biographies say he was           1905]. It is rumoured that he got
                                           “sociopath” who used his charm to            for the May 8, 1906 train robbery at      born in 1842, some say 1846. One             about $35,000 there.”
                                           sway people to do his bidding.               Ducks (now Monte Creek, east of
                                              “He had a courtly manner,” said           Kamloops) never admitted he was
                                           Grauer.                                      Bill Miner, the noted American
                                              “That’s a symptom of a sociopath.         stagecoach robber. He always                                                           WEEKEND EXTRA
                                           Pe o p l e a re a tt ra c te d to t h e m    insisted he was George Edwards of                                                      CONTINUES ON PAGE C11
                                           because they are charming. They              Princeton, even though the warden