Boiling Point and Cold Cases

10 September 2015

Boiling Point & Cold Cases: More Saskatchewan Crime Stories
by Barb Pacholik, with Jana G. Pruden
Published by University of Regina Press
Review by Keith Foster
$19.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-286-1

Gruesome, grisly, and ghastly are just three words that might describe some of the crimes in Barb Pacholik’s Boiling Point & Cold Cases: More Saskatchewan Crime Stories. Readers might wonder how some people can treat other humans so brutally.

The collection consists of forty stories, thirty-six black and white photos or illustrations, and a list of sources on topics as diverse as Prohibition, marijuana grow-operations, and the Ku Klux Klan in Saskatchewan.

Crimes range from shooting, stabbing, bludgeoning, and arsenic poisoning. Some motives are just plain weird. It’s hard to believe someone would kill another human being just to steal his car stereo. One man killed his family because, he said, he loved them so much.

The time span ranges from late 19th century to early 21st century, primarily in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The earliest case cited in Boiling Point and Cold Cases occurred in 1885 when John Connor murdered Henry Mulaski in Moose Jaw. Connor was hanged in Regina on the very day that the trial of Louis Riel began.

The 1933 murder of Regina constable George Anthony Lenhard is just one of several unsolved or cold cases Pacholik relates. While readers may feel frustrated over the lack of a solution, that frustration must be even more pronounced for the police and especially for the relatives and friends of the deceased.

The Saskatchewan Ku Klux Klan got into trouble with the law, not for racist rants, but because its leader, Hugh Pat Emoury, alias Pat Emmons, made off with the Klan’s membership dues. Emmons at one point boasted that the Klan had 48,000 members in the province, although a police informant estimated membership at 10,280.

Pacholik introduces readers to men such as Valentine Nicholas Leschenko, an armed robber who, despite Houdini-like escape qualities, spent most of his time in various prisons across Canada. He spent so much time behind bars that when he tried getting away from another heist in an idling Oldsmobile, he didn’t know how to operate an automatic transmission and kept looking for the clutch.

One of the more notable names Pacholik cites is a young lawyer named John Diefenbaker, who in 1930 defended Alex Wysochan against accusations of murdering his lover. Although Diefenbaker argued Wysochan was innocent, he was convicted and sent to the gallows in Prince Albert. Diefenbaker later became prime minister of Canada.

Boiling Point & Cold Cases doesn’t focus entirely on the negative. When an employee stole money from an orphans’ fund, Regina lawyer Norman Mackenzie replaced it with funds from his own firm.

Pacholik has been a crime reporter for the Regina Leader-Post since 1988. This is her third collection of true Saskatchewan crime stories.


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