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					HANDOUT 1 - BENCHMARK DOCUMENTS: The Case of the Scottish Nightingale

                                      Document 1

          A verdict of “accidental death” was returned by the coroner‟s jury investigating
 the case of Janet K. Smith, found dead from a gunshot wound in the home of F.L.
 Baker, 3851 Osler Avenue, where she was employed as a nursemaid.
          Medical evidence showed that the revolver was some distance from the head
 when fired. Dr. A.W. Hunter, who performed the autopsy, stated that there were no
 powder marks on the surface or under the skin…
          Mr. F.L. Baker told the jury that he believed the girl had been examining the
 gun and it had gone off…he believed she obtained possession of it out of curiosity…
          [Baker stated] he knew of no reason why [Smith] should take her own life.
          Nor did Miss Mary Jones, a nursemaid and confidant of the deceased. The
 girl had always seemed happy and was engaged to be married…The deceased had
 often said she was afraid of being in the house with only the Chinese cook. That was
 the situation on Sunday when the shooting occurred.
          Dr. Hunter…[was] of the opinion that a gunshot wound could not have caused
 all the injuries found in the head, but [was] in doubt as to what had caused them…
          Wong Foon Sing, the Chinese cook, who was in the house at the time of the
 shooting, and who was the first to see the dead woman told what he knew of the
 affair…He said he heard the shot in the basement while peeling potatoes in the
 kitchen…Hearing the shot he first looked out of the window to investigate. He then
 rushed to the basement and found the girl lying prostrate on the floor apparently
          Chief of Police H.J. Simpson stated last night that there was nothing in the
 evidence that would indicate foul play.

 From “Accident is Jury’s Finding”, Vancouver Evening Sun, Tuesday, July 29th, 1924

                                      Document 2

         A policy of strict silence is being carried out by those connected with the
 investigation into the death of Janet K. Smith, a Scotch nursemaid who was found
 shot in the Osler avenue home, where she was employed, last summer…
         A story to the effect that after wild party at a certain Shaughnessy Heights
 home a number of local men visited the Baker house and that on Miss Smith
 exhorting them to be quiet she was chased upstairs to the bathroom, where she fell
 an struck her head against the bath and was killed, a shot being later fired into her
 brain to give the impression of suicide or accidental death, has also been proved a
 canard as have a number of other sensational theories…

  From “Mystery Probe is Futile”, unidentified newspaper clipping, January 26 th, 1925
                                     Document 3

         Wong Foon Sing, Chinese house boy at the home of Mr. R.P. Baker [brother
of F.L. Baker]…where Janet Smith…met her death last July, has disappeared,
according to a rumour current in Chinatown this morning…
         The report…is that he was carried off on Friday night by men who were
dressed in flowing gowns and white hoods…
         It is felt by some…that the Chinaman had not told all that he might in
connection with the death of the nursemaid. This led some time ago to the circulation
of a report that Wong might be seized in an effort to force him to make a complete
statement of what he knows of the death of the girl.
         One report this afternoon had it that Wong was “abducted” by friendly
countrymen, who are sending him back to China…
         At the subsequent inquest [into the death of J. Smith] a verdict of “accidental
death” was returned, but this did not prove satisfactory, and the friends of the dead
girl insisted on further enquiry. This resulted in a second inquest being held; when
provincial police…testified that in their opinion she had been murdered. This
evidence was accepted and a verdict of murder was returned... The reported
disappearance of Wong Foon Sing…only serves to complicate the mystery.

From “White Hoods Carry China Boy Away”, Vancouver Province, March 21 st , 1925

                                     Document 4

1885 Chinese Immigration Act         Under this act every Chinese person
                                     immigrating to Canada had to pay the
                                     government a $50 head tax
1902 Royal Commission on             Declares that “…further immigration of Chinese
     Oriental Immigration            to Canada would be injurious to the interests of
1903 Chinese Immigration Act         Head tax increased to $500
1907 Anti-Asian Riots in             Attacks on the sections of downtown
     Vancouver                       Vancouver known as “Chinatown” and
                                     “Japantown” occur due to the perceived threat
                                     of competition for jobs and anti-Asian prejudice.

1923 Chinese Exclusion Act           Replaced the Chinese Immigration Act. Tried
                                     to stop almost all Chinese immigration to
                                     Canada. Went into effect on July 1st , 1923.
                                     Chinese-Canadians refer to this day as
                                     “Humiliation Day”.
 Figure 1: Discriminatory Policies & Events against the Chinese in Canada, 1885-1923

 Information taken from Counterpoints: Exploring Canadian Issues, 2001, pp.10-11
                                        Document 5

Wong Foon Sing…was formally charged with the murder of Janet Smith in Point Grey
Police Court today…
        The missing boy was picked up by…Point Grey police on Marine Drive at 3
o‟clock this morning and brought to the station for interrogation…
        Wong had been missing since he was kidnapped from the Baker home…on
March 20 last…
        According to the police [Wong] made a…statement, declaring that…he was
dumped out of an auto at the corner of Angus avenue and Marine drive…
        That a warrant charging the missing houseboy with murder had been out for
several weeks, was admitted by the Point Grey police but as to who laid the
information they would not state…
        Although it was frequently averred in some quarters that the Chinese
houseboy had voluntarily left the Baker home, in other quarters it has been insisted
that the houseboy had been kidnapped and was being held prisoner. Wherever he
has been during the past 42 days, judging from his appearance, he has not been ill-

  From “Wong Foon Sing Found; Charged with Murder of Janet Smith”, Vancouver
                      Evening Sun, Friday, May 1st , 1925

                                        Document 6

         Figure 2: Police Sketch of the cri me scene – the l aundry room at 3851 Osler.

  Reprinted from Victoria Times Colonist, Magazine Section, April 20th, 1958 (p.8)
                                     Document 7

        G. L. Fraser, barrister, told The Vancouver Sun this afternoon that he had
been retained by the Baker family to watch their interests in connection with the
coming hearing of Wong [Foon Sing]. In making this announcement Mr. Fraser said
he wished to set the public right upon one point particularly, and that was to deny
most emphatically that there had been a party at the Baker house the night before
the death of Janet Smith.
        “As a matter of fact, there had been no party there and no gathering that
could be called by any such name for more than a week before the fatal Saturday
when Janet Smith‟s body was found,” said Mr. Fraser, adding that this fact must be
well known to the prosecution and should not therefore be carelessly repeated with
no more authority than idle street gossip…

  From “Bakers’ Lawyer Attacks Rumours”, Vancouver Evening Sun, May 4th, 1925

                                     Document 8

        The black mark on the index finger of Janet Smith‟s left hand which refused to
come off with water, but came off with sylol was made the subject of a graphic test by
the prosecutor [Mr. M.B. Jackson]…
        Mr. Jackson said he would later prove the nature of the substance. It was
immediately after this test that reference was made to cocaine which Dr. Hunter [who
performed the autopsy on Janet Smith on July 28th, 1924, two days after death] said
Mr. Jackson was incorrect in supposing to be a derivative of opium.
        “Was the black substance opium?,” was the question, which came to
everybody‟s mind, but the answer is yet to be given…
        Dr. Hunter said he had examined the genital organs, but the deductions to be
drawn were distorted by the activities of the undertakers. Personally he thought the
condition was due to the undertakers‟ work. They were possibly consistent with
ravishment, he said in answer to a question, although he did not incline to that view.

 From “Questions as to Cocaine Effect Asked By Crown”, Vancouver Province, May
                                   13th, 1925

                                     Document 9

         The crown concluded its case at the preliminary hearing of Wong Foon Sing
at Point Grey Police Court, Kerrisdale, this morning, reserving some sensational
evidence for the final hour.
         Mr. F. L. Baker, in reply to questions, while on the witness stand…denied with
considerable warmth that there had been a party in his house on the two nights
preceding the tragedy; that any person had ever been familiar with Janet Smith in his
house; that there were any drugs on the premises, and that either the housemaid or
the Chinaman had ever been known to have connection in any way with narcotics…
         Cross-examined by Mr. Senkler [lawyer for the Defense], Mr. Baker stated
that there was nothing [of] his British Columbia business in connection with the dope
traffic. He [stated] that he had never, at any time, discussed with Janet Smith or the
accused the matter of drugs…

From “Questions at Wong Hearing Sensational”, Vancouver Province, May 14 th, 1925
                                    Document 10

        No bill was found by the grand jury to an indictment charging Wong Foon Sing
with the murder of Janet Smith…
        Wong Foon Sing, Chinese houseboy, who had been kidnapped and released
only to be arrested for murder and who was committed for trial on that charge by
Magistrate George McQueen is now free…
        The death of the young Scottish nursemaid on the morning of July 26, 1924,
in a house at 3851 Osler avenue, occupied by F.L. Baker, is left in the position that
one coroner‟s jury returned a verdict of accidental death, another jury of murder, and
the grand jury has decided that Wong Foon Sing, the Chinese houseboy, was not

       From “Wong Foon Sing Freed”, Vancouver Province, October 9th, 1925

                                    Document 11

         “O.K. Now listen!” Morgan cut in. “You want to know what I found out? It‟s
1924…in the heat of summer, the news rips through Chinatown like wild fire! A white
woman is murdered! The prime suspect is a Chinese houseboy named Wong Foon
Sing! Chopsticks drop and clatter in surprise! Clumps of rice stick in throats…”
         “Morgue, what are you sputtering about?” I couldn‟t bear to hear any more…
         “Listen!” he repeated. “This Janet Smith murder case kicked up a lot of fuss
in Vancouver. Don‟t you want to know more about it?”
         “What for?” I was beginning to wonder if this vacuous pursuit…wasn‟t
unbalancing his mind.
         “Summer! 1924…Let me tell you, the whole town went nuts! The Chinese
Exclusion Act – the Day of Humiliation – and then this killing…People became openly
obsessed with splattered brain matter. At dinner tables, they might as well have
been eating coagulating blood pudding. Newspapers egged them on at breakfast.
More lovesick but banal diary tidbits for tea, dear?”…
         Then his voice turned sinister. “The crowds began to get restless and ugly.
All over the land, men on soapboxes cried out, „It is our god-given duty to protect our
poor, white, working-class maidenhood from those filthy minded, slant-eyed
         “Morgan, “I gasped again, my ears burning red-hot…”Pipe down, will you!” I
         Morgan calmed down, but continued to lecture at me…”The „murder‟ itself
was a simple, though unsolved „hole in the head‟ story, but it told a lot about
Vancouver then. The intrigues and plots, the coverups and scandal, which flourished
as a result of a young white female body…The story had something for every kind of
righteousness. For those who hated Chinese and thought they were depra ved and
drug-infested. And for those who hated the rich and thought they were depraved and
         “And Chinatown in 1924,” Morgan continued, “ seventeen years after the race
riots of 1907, had become quite a thriving, respectable little establishment…”

          Excerpt from Disappearing Moon Café, a novel by Sky Lee, 1990
                                   Document 12

         …By the summer of 1925, the Janet Smith case had become a staple item in
the British tabloid press. In Vancouver, one heard rumours of bribery, political
interference, drug smuggling and the decadent behaviour of the rich and powerful.
         One of the more provocative murder theories asserted that Janet Smith was
killed when she inadvertently became involved in a violent romantic quarrel between
Jack Nichol, the playboy son of Lieutenant-Governor W.G. Nichol, and Lucille
McRae, daughter of general and multimillionaire A.D. McRae. Lucille McRae was
said to have lashed out at Smith in jealous rage, causing her to slip on a wet floor
and fracture her skull on a plumbing fixture.
         Although Scotland Yard officials privately informed British Columbia
authorities that F.L. Baker had operated a major drug smuggling ring in London in
1920-1923, no arrests were made in the Janet Smith case. In January 1926, Wong
Foon Sing returned to China, ending the police investigation into on of Canada‟s
most intriguing murder mysteries.

  Excerpt from “Who Killed Janet Smith”, by Ed Starkins in The Greater Vancouver
                        Book: A Urban Encyclopedia, 1997