Murdering Justice: The Police Killing of Ginger Goodwin, Labor Organizer
The various police agencies in Canada have long histories of routinely inflicting often lethal violence on activists, community and labor organizers, protesters, and dissenters, despite popular perceptions, and state propaganda, suggesting otherwise. Police violence and the killing of activists have been particularly pronounced in the case of labor organizers and active union members.
One of the most infamous instances of lethal police force against a labor organizer is the killing of Albert “Ginger” Goodwin, a prominent union organizer and socialist, by a disgraced constable of the Military Police of the Dominion Police, Dan Campbell.
Born in Treeton, England in 1887, “Red” Goodwin was a migrant coal miner who came to settle in the area around the Cumberland mines on Vancouver Island where he arrived looking for work late in 1910. Immediately angered by working conditions, health and safety threats, and the abuse of workers by bosses in the mines Goodwin quickly set about on a number of organizing projects in the area. Goodwin was instrumental in union organizing in the industry and also played crucial parts in several militant strikes. Goodwin was also a war resister who took to the woods around Cumberland to avoid conscription in a war that he opposed as the murdering of workers on behalf of imperialism. It was in those woods that he was killed by police. On July 27, 1918 Goodwin was gunned down by Constable Campbell, executed for refusing to fight a bosses’ war.
Red Goodwin: For Workers and Against War
After the Vancouver Island strike of 1912 to 1914, in which Goodwin played a key part, he was blacklisted and had to move on. Moving to Trail, BC in 1916, Goodwin worked as a smelter with the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada Limited (CM and S). As a member of the Socialist Party of Canada, Goodwin ran in the provincial election of 1916. That same year he was elected secretary of the Trail Mine and Smelter’s Union. He would later be elected vice-president of the BC Federation of Labour. In 1917 he was elected president of the Trail Trades and Labor Council and president of the local International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers.
From the start of World War I, Goodwin, as was the case for many socialists and anarchists, openly opposed the war on pacifist grounds and because the was was understood as an imperial endeavor built on the dead bodies of the working classes who were forced to fight each other on behalf of capital and its national states. Goodwin had actually tried to assist returned soldiers, as harmed members of the working class. Goodwin initially complied with law and registered for the draft. He was rejected for conscription on the basis of a medical examination that declared him unfit for military duty on the basis of black lung, common for miners, and bad teeth, common for the poor. The medical board classified him Class D, unfit for military service. Not long after his medical exam, in 1917, Goodwin became centrally involved in a strike at the Trail smelter over nothing more radical than an eight hour day (it is too often forgotten that workers in Canada did not enjoy an eight hour day, usually working much longer, and would fight the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919 over this very issue, leading to mass arrests and the police killings of several workers). Incredibly, during the course of the strike Goodwin received notification that his conscription status had now changed and he was now declared fit for duty. Business people made up much of local draft boards across Canada. At the time of his reclassification from Class D to Class A it was almost certain that Goodwin suffered from an advanced form of tuberculosis (Steeves 1960, 38).
To avoid being forced to fight and possibly kill other workers in a bosses war, Goodwin along with several other war and conscription resisters moved to the woods around Cumberland. They were literally hunted like animals by hunting posses of various agencies of police in British Columbia, the Provincial Police of British Columbia and the Dominion Police. The police unambiguously played a strictly political role serving working people up to the military and directing specific violence against workers who had been involved in community and labor organizing and/or who had challenged business owners and processes of exploitation of labor.
Deadly Forces: The Police Agencies
Officers of the federal Dominion Police were used to track down and capture those who opposed war and conscription during the period of World War I. So too were constables of the British Columbia Provincial Police. This was part of the taken for granted role of police as agents of empire, and obedience to the state (rather than as defenders of justice, law, and order). Objectors to war and conscription were arrested under the Military Service Act.
The Dominion Police was a relatively small and federal force established in 1868 to operate as the secret service, to enforce federal statutes, and to guard government buildings. In 1920 it was merged with the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The Military Police component of the Dominion Police was deployed to seek out and round up men who opposed the war and avoided the draft.
Given that many, indeed most, of those who opposed war were socialists, communists, anarchists, social reformers, critics of states or corporate interests, this policing of war resisters reinforced the police role as fundamentally political forces, defending capitalist and state authorities and priorities. It also gave ample opportunity to rid the world of various “Reds,” which was precisely what capital and liberal democratic governments desired and sought.
The Military Police had been organized in British Columbia by BC conscription registrar Robert Lemmie, a lawyer in Nelson and Vancouver. In order to stir resentments and ensure vengeful prosecution of duties, Lemmie built his force mostly of handpicked returning soldiers.
The cop who killed Ginger Goodwin was a businessperson who owned and operated the Colwood Hotel near Victoria between 1906 and 1919. Special Constable Dan Campbell said two days before he killed Goodwin: “Mac, we are here to get these men, dead or alive.”
The police description of Goodwin, in addition to saying he had a “furtive glance,” noted that he was “socialistic” and strangely implied he might be Jewish (Stonebanks 2004).
The Hunt Posse
The Provincial Police constable based in Cumberland was Robert Rushford (30). The police posse hunting draft avoiders at Cumberland were led by William John Devitt (49) a career police officer. Devitt was the Vancouver based Inspector and second in command to the Chief Inspector of the 45 person Military Police arm of the Dominion Police in British Columbia, one Captain Frederick R. Glover (Stonebanks 2004, 90). At the time of the Goodwin killing Devitt had had a 31 year police career. He joined the NWMP in 1887 serving a five year term which saw him involved in several breaches of discipline. Despite conduct that was officially recorded as “indifferent” Devitt was brought back for a second, three year term. Between 1896 and 1910, Devitt operated with the BC Provincial Police, serving in Nakusp, Nelson, Rossland, and Trail. Devitt became the first police chief of Trail, British Columbia.
Devitt had been in charge of a hunting party searching for resisters at least as early as, ironically, May Day, the historic holiday of the workers of all lands. That party included Constable Alfred Stafford of the Military Police.
The cop who killed Ginger Goodwin, Dan Campbell, joined the hunt for resisters in July 1918. Prior to killing Goodwin, Dan Campbell had met disgrace as a constable in the British Columbia Provincial Police. At the time of the hunt for Goodwin, Campbell was a special constable.
The hunting party also included a third police officer, Lance Corporal George Henry Roe (48), a former customs officer overseeing coal loaded for export, and two trappers, Thomas Downie Anderson (58) and George Alfred Janes (44). As if the hunting symbolism was not direct enough.
Police hunted the resisters day and night. Reports of the time suggest the resisters led a very precarious existence suffering from bites from mosquitoes and poisonous deer flies and from exposure (Stonebanks 2004, 97). One resister, identified as Andrew Aitken, returned to Cumberland suffering what was called a form of dementia. Goodwin himself suffered pneumonia but received medicine from supporters and recovered (Stonebanks 2004, 97). Many locals supported the resisters and there were networks of sympathetic workers and townspeople who brought supplies, especially foodstuffs, to hiding resisters. While friends and supporters did help out food was on the whole quite limited. Resisters had to forage and hunt for themselves.
Over May 14 and 15, Rushford and Constable Alfred Stafford of the Dominion Police conducted all night searches for resisters. On April 27 the pair had arrested Earon Jones for failing to register for the draft.
The posse set out from Comox Lake on its human hunting trip on Saturday, July 27, 1918. Goodwin was hiding with other resisters and mine workers Frederick Taylor, Arthur Boothman, and James Randall.
On July 27, 1918, the Dominion Police set out for the fateful hunting expedition that would claim Ginger Goodwin. Sometime around 4:30 PM Devitt and Roe heard a shot ring out and working their way through dense bush came to the spot where Goodwin lay dead. He had been shot by Dan Campbell who used his own .30-.30 caliber 1893 Marlin lever action rifle. A bullet pierced Goodwin’s neck severing his spinal cord. Death was instant (Stonebanks 2004, 102).
Goodwin was found by Devitt and Roe thirteen feet away from Campbell. Goodwin was holding a .22 caliber rifle. Bloodstains were found on the trail six feet, three inches away from Goodwin’s body.
Initially the police planned to bury Goodwin’s body on the spot where it lay without any autopsy or coroner’s report. Two undertakers, Thomas Banks of Cumberland and John Sutton of Courtnay, were asked to bury Goodwin in the woods but refused. Unions intervened and declared their intention to get the body out. Undertaker Thomas Banks and a rescue team of miners brought Goodwin’s body out of the woods.
In a curious decision neither of Cumberland’s two doctors, who may have been sympathetic to the local miners, George McNaughton and E.R. Hicks, was asked to perform the postmortem. Instead authorities turned to Dr. Harrison Mullard from Courtnay, several miles away.
An Inquest was held in Cumberland on the morning of July 31. Constable Dan Campbell maintained that he had killed Goodwin in self defense but seems not to have been asked to provide specific details of the interaction.
Dr. Millard suggested based on the condition of the wound that the gun had been fired from not farther than ten feet and not closer than two feet. Goodwin has a “large gaping wound” on the left side of his neck and a “nasty” wound on his left wrist (Stonebanks 2004, 105).
Devitt replied that based on the wrists and neck wounds he believed Goodwin was shot from the side and had been standing with his left side facing the shooter. This would suggest that he was not pointing a gun at Campbell and should have raised questions about Campbell’s claim of self defense. While Devitt had initially referred to Goodwin’s gun as a high powered automatic it was actually a small .22 used by farmers for dealing with pests or hunting small game.
Roe testified that in finding Goodwin he held the gun tightly in his right hand but not his left. A firing position would have had the gun gripped in both hands. Roe reported that the .22 had ten bullets but only two were recovered. For some reason, despite being told by Devitt to make the gun safe, the two billets were put back in the gun by Roe.
There were real discrepancies between in the self defense claim and the forensic evidence which did not fully support it. The fact that Goodwin had two separate and distinct puncture wounds in his neck was not fully explained. Was he shot only once? As well there were discrepancies in explanations for the wound in Goodwin’s wrist. There was no gunpowder found on the wound and it was suggested that the wound was not caused by a bullet. Later it was suggested that a bullet had first hit Goodwin’s wrist before entering his neck. There was also an unexplained puncture on Goodwin’s lip.
Many believed (many reviewing the case still do) that Goodwin was shot in the back from someone crouching in bushes below him (Steeves 1960, 39). This would, in fact, correspond with the angle of the bullet path from back to neck (an exit rather than an entry wound). It would also explain the wrist wound as the upward rising bullet would have met the upraised hands held out front (in a gesture of surrender and compliance).
The inquest returned a neutral verdict. Campbell was arrested by the Provincial Police and charged with manslaughter. He was released on $10,000 bail.
Incredibly the jurors were all local business people or local government representatives. They were: Frank Dalby, jury foreman, a storekeeper at Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Ltd.; Charles Parnham, underground supervisor at Number Four mine and city alderman; R,R, Ridout, payroll clerk at Canadian Collieries; Neil McFadyen, stable boss at Canadian Collieries and school trustee; John Fraser, proprietor of a cigar store and barber shop; and J.W, Cooke, postmaster. In a mining town, not a single juror was a working miner (Stonebanks 2004, 107).
Aftermath of the Inquest
Many considered the killing of Goodwin to be murder based on the path of the bullet. As numerous miners at the time noted the path of the bullet through the left side of Goodwin’s neck and into his right shoulder showed that he could not have been sighting his rifle at Campbell, who would have been at his side and perhaps even out of sight, but would have been turned away from him. This glaring discrepancy in Campbell’s defense claim caused rising anger among miners and others who challenged the Campbell version of the killing.
The Metal Trades Council and the Vancouver Trades and Labour Council called a 24 hour general strike for August 2 in Vancouver, the first general strike in Canada, a year before the Winnipeg General Strike. The 24 hour strike was long known as the Ginger Goodwin General Strike.
Work stopped in Cumberland for the funeral, a testament to the high regard in which Goodwin was held but also an expression of outrage over what was considered a murder plain and simple (Stonebanks 2004, 109). The funeral procession measured over one kilometer in length. The Cumberland chief of police requested that the federal police be removed from town for the funeral saying that he could not be responsible for the consequences if they stayed given the seething anger of the miners (Steeves 1960, 39).
Police and the Political Climate
The social climate that the police played into says much about their social role. This was a context in which violence against union members was openly advocated and pursued. With no police intervention against those, particularly in business associations and veteran’s groups who called for or carried out anti-union violence.
In 1918 the Canadian government passed legislation making it illegal to publicly express or publish statements unfavorable to the motives or purposes of the war (Stonebanks 2004, 122). Anything that might “unsettle or inflame public opinion” was prohibited by law (Stonebanks 2004, 122). This did not prohibit actions that inflamed public opinion against war resisters, even where violence against resisters was involved.
Thirteen organizations, including the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and various socialist parties were declared illegal on the basis of revolutionary literature (Stonebanks 2004, 123). These were groups that were most active in their opposition to the state and to capitalism as well as opposing imperialism, militarism, and war. No illegalization was leveled at the many conservative groups that actually inflicted violence on poor and working class people and organizations in what were essentially terroristic acts.
The Great War Veterans Association (GWVA) threatened violence against striking workers. Sergeant A.E. Lees, secretary of the GWVA in British Columbia said: “Whether he was shot in the front or the back, he got his just and due deserts” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 111). The BC Veteran’s Weekly called the general strike “murderous disloyalty.” The Vancouver Sun called the strike “deliberate treason.”
On August 2, three hundred veterans stormed the Vancouver Labour Temple, broke down the door, shattered windows, and trashed the office scattering papers and records around the room. Labour Council secretary Victor Midgely was assaulted. The following day veteran’s attended the Longshoreman’s Hall and demanded that several union leaders leave the province.
This sentiment was advanced in various establishment outlets including the mainstream newspapers. The Trail newspaper the News called Goodwin’s killing a “natural consequence” and suggested he should have paid the price in the war anyway, oddly suggesting that he “could have made a name for himself” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 112).
All in all the establishment papers found Goodwin to be an offense to patriotism who deserved to be executed without trial apparently. And Dan Campbell made this sentiment a reality.
In that sense the police did the bidding of the ruling class. They served the function of recruiters for war and also provided an ideological function that condemned and morally regulated resisters posing war resistance as criminal enterprise. In this we see the longstanding role of police and legislation in constructing various forms of opposition to capitalist barbarism (war, exploitation, dispossession, etc.) as crime (as in laws around vagrancy, theft, strikes, squatting, war resistance, etc.).
The hunts for resisters continued on Vancouver Island after Goodwin’s killing. Several unionists were arrested for aiding and abetting resisters, particularly for taking them food. The officers involved in the Goodwin killing took part in later hunts for resisters.
The Preliminary Investigation
On August 7, the Preliminary Investigation into charges against Constable Campbell convened at the Victoria Courthouse. Notably several witnesses for the defense would enhance their testimony to support a self defense argument (despite there being no witnesses to the killing itself, or perhaps because of it).
The Crown, prosecuting the case, held that Campbell was operating on a “dead or alive” basis. Six new witnesses testified to hearing Campbell say, on three distinct occasions overall, that he would “get” the resisters “dead or alive.” One testified that Campbell used the word “shot” in his discussion of getting the resisters (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 113). Further, there was no evidence that Campbell spoke to Goodwin before shooting him. This suggested that Goodwin may not have known Campbell was even present and/or was not given any opportunity to surrender. No one heard any warning given. Indeed, no one heard Campbell say anything before the shot was fired. Was Goodwin simply executed on the spot as Campbell had suggested he would do to six witnesses? This question lingers to the present day.
The existence of two wounds on the left of Goodwin’s neck was never pursued in questioning. There were also issues about the wrist wound. There was no gunpowder on the wrist and Dr. Millard changed his view about the source of the wrist wounds.
The Court relied on Devitt’s opinion about the place of Goodwin’s hands and the state of his fingers to determine whether he could have been able to fire his gun. They also relied simply on his opinion about the possibility of a bullet ricocheting from Goodwin’s wrist to his neck. Roe, who supposedly took the rifle from the dead Goodwin’s hand could not say what position his index, trigger, finger was in.
Campbell even later suggested that Goodwin had only covered him with his rifle and that Campbell had been able to raise his after Goodwin saw him and had him covered. Suggesting no intention of shooting by Goodwin (Stonebanks 2004, 115). Reports of the interaction between Campbell and Goodwin changed further. From Goodwin first having Campbell covered, Campbell later suggested that he had Goodwin put his arms up, which he then did, complying with the order. Campbell then suggests Goodwin suddenly clutched the rifle as if to shoot before Campbell shot him. But both scenarios cannot be true at the same time. Either Goodwin had Campbell covered and Campbell quickly raised his weapon afterward and got a shot off or Campbell had Goodwin covered with his arms in the air and fired later when Goodwin brought his arms down. It cannot be both. Yet Campbell was never interrogated on this, indeed he never took the stand for cross examination as far as is known, and the incompatible discrepancies were never pursued.
Campbell’s weapon might also have been questioned. he killed Goodwin with a .30-.30 rifle but, as Devitt testified, the regulation arm for Dominion Police was a .45 or .55 caliber pistol. Where was Campbell’s pistol and why was he permitted to carry a non-regulation weapon into the field?
Devitt testified that he did not know Goodwin beforehand but he surely must have known of him while serving as police chief in Rossland. Incredibly, despite this, Devitt added to his testimony, with no actual evidence ever provided, that he had “certain telegrams” suggesting Goodwin would shoot anyone who tried to draft him (Stonebanks 2004, 117). Yet Ben Horbury, a Cumberland miner, said he was actually present when Goodwin told his father that if ever cornered by police he would not shoot (Stonebanks 2004, 117). Albert Stephenson, Chief of the Provincial Police, who knew Goodwin while a constable at Cumberland during the Big Strike that Goodwin was involved in, testified that Goodwin was in no way offensive or aggressive.
There were numerous inconsistencies and improprieties in the hearing. Witnesses Devitt and Roe were able to listen to each other’s testimony, for example.
Incredibly, the hearing concluded that Goodwin had assaulted Campbell and thus Campbell was justified in killing Goodwin in self defense. Yet there was, and is, certainly no evidence ever produced of any such assault.
Still, the hearing court actually returned a decision to commit Campbell to trial for manslaughter. The evidence could not be disregarded.
The Grand Jury
At the time of this case the trial would occur only after the case had been presented to a Grand Jury and only if the Grand Jury decided it should proceed. Before Campbell would stand trial a Grand Jury was formed to determine whether there was sufficient prima facie evidence to warrant a trial.
Before the trial began the venue was moved from Nanaimo, a coal miner town to Victoria, the provincial capital and an imperial center, on the basis of affidavits from several prominent business people and government officials. They were: John S. Bannerman, customs collector in Cumberland; Thomas Graham, general superintendant at Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Ltd. in Cumberland; Charles Graham, district superintendant of Canadian Collieries in Cumberland; Donald Robert MacDonald, traffic manager for Canadian Collieries in Cumberland; Frank J. Dalby, storekeeper for Canadian Collieries in Cumberland and foreman of the Goodwin Inquest jury; Thomas Duer McLean, a jeweler in Cumberland; Neil McFayden, stable foreman for Canadian Collieries in Cumberland, school trustee, and juror in the Goodwin Inquest; Charles Edward Hildreth, manager of the BC Veterans Weekly, the official paper of the GWVA of BC, which was on record as saying resisters were traitors who deserved to die; and Anson Jones Burnside, now unknown. The Deputy Attorney-General of BC, A.M. Johnson, did not oppose the relocation of the hearing.
Had the Grand Jury stayed in Nanaimo, the scheduled jurors would have included four mine workers—there ended up being none on the Victoria jury. In this case the Grand Jury again consisted overwhelmingly of business people, local elites. The Grand Jury in Victoria consisted of six merchants, three accountants, a shipping agent, a real estate agent, a financial agent, and a retired man. There were no blue collar workers and no union members. And the political context in Victoria was more conservative than in working class Nanaimo.
On September 25, as the Grand Jury was being prepared, the Victoria League of Patriots called for “forceful methods” against those “who can endanger the winter coal supply of Canada by striking at the beginning of winter” (Stonebanks 2004, 122). This was in keeping with other such public calls for violence from conservative war mongering groups.
A Victoria Reverand suggested that “enemy aliens” in the coal mines should be forced to work for twenty-five cents a day at the point of a bayonet under guard of returned soldiers (Stonebanks 2004, 123). The Victoria Daily Colonist ran a letter from a soldier killed in action that read: “These non-soldiers are not only slackers but are keeping some returned soldiers out of a job who have certainly earned it over here. But don’t worry. God help them when the boys get back. They will wish they instead of their former comrades faced the Hun” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 123). Such was the sentiment promoted by local elites and conservative and establishment organizations in Victoria.
Decision to proceed to trial or not was based in a simple majority, rather than consensus as in a criminal trial jury. Thus, as few as seven people could decide the fate of the case.
With no explanation given the Grand Jury returned a verdict of “No Bill” and Campbell was free.
Men of Honor and Standing
The men of the police who formed the posse all had questionable backgrounds in service. What were not in question were their direct connections with, and as members of, local elites.
Campbell was a former Provincial Police constable with a past best described as checkered. As a less than proficient businessman he was also desperate for money. His stepfather John Donald Campbell had been Provincial Police Constable in Esquimalt, BC from 1877 to 1897 and as such was responsible for an area from Victoria to Port Renfrew. When he retired Dan succeeded him as constable, a family affair in policing (one might ask about patronage and vetting perhaps).
As police officer he attempted to claim a company reward for the BC Electric Railway Company for apprehending the person supposedly responsible for putting a piece of iron across transmission lines. But the award was never intended for police in the conduct of their business, for obvious reasons (of avoiding the appearance of police as mercenaries or bounty hunters).
On August 29, 1905 Officer Campbell shook down two women who lived in the red light district for $30 after stopping them in their horse and buggy. According to a complaint filed by the women with the Provincial Police, Campbell took them to a hotel and held them hostage demanding $30 for their release. This amount was equal to half of his monthly salary (Stonebanks 2004, 98–99). Following an inquiry which was referred to provincial Premier Richard McBride, Campbell was dismissed on September 28, 1905, for “conduct unbecoming a policeman, conduct injurious to the public service or public welfare, and accepting money without approval” (Stonebanks 2004, 99). Notably, Campbell had lied about the event saying the money was “a gift” (in a familiar police ploy).
Campbell had further trouble with the law while running the Colwood Hotel. In 1912 he was convicted in magistrate’s court for selling liquor in quantities above Liquor Act requirements. He appealed the case twice, to the BC Supreme Court and BC Court of Appeal, losing both times. His appeals were called “a clumsy and unsuccessful attempt to evade the statute” by Justice Archer Martin (Stonebanks 2004, 99).
Devitt’s history is an interesting one and shows the close links between the police and business interests which have always been close and which are present in the form of the other hunting party officers. In Trail, Devitt was not only police chief but also city clerk, assessor, and collector. He was one of four businesspeople who dominated the community. Known as the “Big Four” of Trail, they included other businessmen James Byers, MLA James Schofield, and, interestingly, Noble Binns (who was on the Local Tribunal that declined Ginger Goodwin’s application for conscription exemption in 1917) (Stonebanks 2004, 93). Binns and Schofield served as mayor and Schofield went on to serve as MLA for twenty-five years.
Moving to Nelson, Devitt became the Chief Constable for Kootenay Police District of the BC Provincial Police in charge of 23 officers between July 1907 and May 1909 when he was appointed village constable in Nakusp. There he also served as mining recorder.
Devitt resigned from the Provincial Police in Nakusp in 1910 and there was a dispute over his expenses which the Superintendant in Victoria described as “ridiculous claims.” Such was the integrity of the police given the role of hunting down “undesirables” like war resisters.
Returning to real estate and land development in Nelson, Devitt joined the municipal police force becoming chief in 1914, the year he was hired to be chief of the municipal forces in Rossland. Devitt was unceremoniously fired from the Rossland chief’s position in 1917 over some ongoing disputes with the police commission. There seems to have been some concern that Devitt was soft on gambling and pimps and his replacement was charged with addressing that situation. It remains to history to speculate whether Devitt was receiving kickbacks from either or both endeavors. Devitt then moved to the coast where he did detective work before joining the Military Police of the Dominion Police in March 1918.
The rest of his story is perhaps even more telling. After the war Devitt went to work as a police spy surveilling unions and union members. He became a constable of the Royal North West Mounted Police (later the RCMP).
Notably, trapper Anderson had crossed picket lines to work during the Big Strike of 1912 to 1914 and as a result bore the nickname “Scabby.” An upstanding character of great integrity and committed to the betterment of the working class. It was scab Anderson who tipped off the Military Police about locations of possible deserters hiding in the backcountry outside Cumberland. Anderson regularly worked, and we can assume profited nicely, assisting the Dominion Police in their hunts for resisters.
Intent to Kill?
At least six people reported conversations with Campbell while he was a constable hunting resisters and prior to his killing of Goodwin in which he said clearly that he would get resisters “dead or alive.” Campbell seemed to interlocutors visibly upset that other constables had not shot resisters when they had the chance and that this hesitance allowed the men to get away. An outcome that Campbell seemed to find abhorrent.
In a chance meeting in July 1918 on the shore of Comox Lake near Cumberland with family man Camille Decoeur, Campbell reportedly told Decoeur, “If I ever get that close they will never get away” and continued, “They will never get away, I will get them” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 100). Campbell seemed upset that “the first bunch of policemen” got within 30 feet of one resister before he eventually got away.
Several miners reported similar chilling conversations with Campbell on July 7 of 1918 also near Comox Lake. Raisi Giovanni recalled Campbell saying: “And he talk of something else, and after he tell me that Bob Rushford see one of the boys up the lake on one of the boats, and he did not want to shoot him, but if he [Campbell] had been in his place he would have shot” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 100). Giovanni continued: “We stayed there for eight or 10 minutes and he said, ‘This time we are going to get them, dead or alive’” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 100).
Alexandros Merillo recalled an earlier encounter with Campbell: “He say there was one boat across the lake and John [sic Robert] Rushford would not shoot because he was one of his friends. Campbell said if he was in his place he would get him” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 100). And Merillo reported that Campbell continued, “dead or alive” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 100). Another man, Carlos Cavallero heard Campbell say as well: “That Rushford saw one of these boys in a boat on the lake and he would not shoot him because he was his friend, and he (Campbell) said, ‘If it was me I would get him’” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 100). Cavallero also added hearing: “We are going to get him, dead or alive” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 100). Similarly Peter Ioris repeated: “He said that Rushford saw a man there at the top of the lake and he did not want to shoot him on account of his family and if he [Campbell] had been in his place he would have got him for sure” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 100). And again, as Ioris reported: “Yes, he (Campbell) said that he would get him dead or alive” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 100).
Peter McNiven, a miner and secretary in the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and member of the Socialist Party of Canada had a conversation with Campbell on July 25, 1918. He reported what Campbell said to him: “We were talking about military evaders in general and he made the statement to me that if he saw any of these men he would get them and he said, ‘Mac, we are here to get these men dead or alive.’ That was the end of the conversation” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 101).
Devitt claimed at the first inquest that his instructions had been to arrest the men under the Military Services Act. He also suggested that this was relayed to the men in the posse. There was, in his view, no instruction to bring the men in dead or alive.
All of this suggests that Campbell had something of an obsession with war resisters. One could even suggest he held an irrational hatred toward them. He certainly was willing to express openly the view that opposing war was reason enough to kill someone. Incredibly, none of these conversations were brought into the initial Inquest of July 31, 1918.
No one but for those directly involved, Dan Campbell and Ginger Goodwin, can ever know what actually happened in those woods in the summer of 1918 beyond the clear fact that Constable Campbell shot and killed union organizer and war resister Goodwin.
Yet virtually everyone who has studied the case agrees that justice was not served—not even in limited criminal justice terms. Neither has justice been seen to have been done.
The Grand Jury process, abolished in Canada in 1932, entirely subverted “due process” by denying the public trial of the manslaughter charge which the Provincial Police and two justices of the peace had determined should proceed, as a prima facie case was established. Even more, the Grand Jury hearing took place in private and left no record of proceedings (Stonebanks 2004, 126).
As few as seven people with no legal education, experience, background, or insight, but strong business connections and interests, decided, on what basis we still do not know, that there should be no trial. Secrecy and the lack of written record meant that perjury was unbothered during a Grand Jury hearing.
A trial might have drawn out of Campbell details about what actually happened. In a self defense argument he would certainly have had to take the stand. And his testimony would have been subject to cross-examination.
Campbell was to have appeared before a military tribunal for inquiry into the shooting but there are no records this ever happened. Neither is there any record of his having been reprimanded for carrying a non- weapon in the field while carrying out duties of the force.
Indeed most of the official records relating to the police killing of Ginger Goodwin have been destroyed or gone missing. Most documents relating to the hunting of war resisters have been wiped out across the board.
Chillingly, Louvan Brownlow, daughter of the Provincial Police Constable in Cumberland, Robert Rushford, said in an interview that her father always maintained privately that Goodwin was unarmed when he was killed. She recalled him saying: “The poor little bastard. He wasn’t armed” (quoted in Stonebanks 2004, 130).
Historian Mark Leier puts the killing of Ginger Goodwin, labor organizer and war resister, by a Canadian cop in proper context. In Leier’s words:
“In sending police after Goodwin, politicians were operating normally. Immorally, of course, but in their usual fashion, following their usual rules and orders. The real criminality is that they were simply doing their day-to-day, regular jobs, maintaining a capitalist order and ensuring the smooth operation of an exploitative system.” (2013, 86)
At some point a government telegram was sent ordering Goodwin’s reexamination which led to a reclassification to A or fight to fight at the front. Notably this occurred during the 1917 strike Goodwin was leading at CM and S in Trail, which was a major supplier of war materials (Stonebanks 2004, 128). There is evidence that CM and S ran Goodwin out of Trail during the strike. They most likely did not want him back under any circumstances.
Leier, Mark. 2013. Rebel Life: The Life and Times of Robert Gosden, Revolutionary, Mystic, Labour Spy. Vancouver: New Star Books
Steeves, Dorothy G. 1960. The Compassionate Rebel: Ernest Winch and the Growth of Socialism in Western Canada. Vancouver: J.J. Douglas
Stonebanks, Roger. 2004. Fighting for Dignity: The Ginger Goodwin Story. St. John’s, NL: Canadian Committee on Labour History