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Old Bill Miner: Last of the Famous Western Bandits by Frank W. Anderson

Born in Brandon, Manitoba, in , Frank W. Andersonwas orphaned at 18 months and grew up in foster homes, reform schools and jails. At age 16, he was convicted of killing a prison guard and was sentenced to death.

This was commuted to life and he spent the next 15 years in a penitentiary. There he completed his high school education and became the first prisoner in Canada to take university courses behind bars. He then joined the John Howard Society and became a parole officer. He developed a two-year course in human behaviour that was adopted by several colleges, and he was appointed to the National Parole Board in , placed in charge of the region covering Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

He held this position until he retired. In November , American police suspected that Miner might have participated in a train robbery in the state of Washington, but he was never officially charged with that crime see also Organized Crime in Canada. By this time, Lewis Colquhoun, a criminal from Ontario , had been recruited. Authorities were certain the crime had been committed by the bandits responsible for the train robbery. The ensuing manhunt was the largest to date in British Columbia history. In addition to provincial police and the Royal Northwest Mounted Police , it involved cowboys serving as special constables, Indigenous trackers, bloodhounds, and American detectives operating along both sides of the international border.

The CPR provided a train to transport and supply the searchers. The outlaws evaded capture for several days but were finally caught at a camp near Douglas Lake on 14 May.

This Week in History: 1906 - The legendary outlaw Bill Miner robs a train near Kamloops

Dunn pulled a pistol and tried to run but was shot in the leg. Miner and Colquhoun surrendered without a fight. The prisoners were tried in Kamloops, where an American prison official identified the gang leader as Bill Miner. All three were convicted, and Miner was given a life sentence. Miner broke out of the British Columbia Penitentiary on 8 August He only robs the CPR once every two years.

The CPR robs us all every day.


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Miner fled from Canada and was not known to have ever returned. He continued his career as a bandit until , when he was arrested for a train robbery in Georgia.

The Gentleman Bandit

He was incarcerated in the state penitentiary but escaped twice. Earning up to twenty-five dollars a letter in this risky endeavour young Bill became quite a big spender and soon turned to robbing stagecoaches to support his lifestyle. Bill Miner was first arrested on April 3, , convicted on two counts of robbery and sentenced to four years at San Quentin. Over the next thirty-five years Miner spent a total of 29 years and seven months behind bars, was released twice and escaped five times.

When he was out, he lived the life of a gentleman quickly blending in with affluent society.

Historica Canada Education Portal

He was known to have taken part in one train robbery near Portland in and drifted North into British Columbia shortly afterwards. Using the alias George Edwards, Miner travelled Southern British Columbia, buying and selling cattle, prospecting a little, and visiting with his brother Jack Budd who lived near Princeton. He became well known in the business and ranching community and travelling frequently as he did no one noticed when he disappeared occasionally. They slipped across the Fraser River by boat to their horses and rode a few miles upstream to Chilliwack.


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The next morning policemen and posse spread out along the border to search for the train robbers. Meanwhile George Edwards, the cattle buyer, was having breakfast and discussing the news with a pair of CPR Detectives in a Chilliwack restaurant. Together they tracked the fleeing train robbers for five days, and the Royal North West Mounted Police were able to successfully capture the bandits near Douglas Lake.