A patrol by Sgt. Anderson and Special Constable Laboucan, between February 3, 1900 and March 16, 1900 traveled to Lesser Slave Lake and the Peace River Crossing carrying the mail, inspecting the detachments and taking stock.
The principal crime in the area in 1904 was the murder of one Edward Hayward at Lesser Slave Lake on September 17, 1904. The circumstances of this case were roughly as follows:
Charles King and Edward Hayward, as partners, started from Edmonton in August 1904 with an outfit of pack horses, traps, and supplies for a season’s hunting and trapping. They traveled over the Swan Hills Trail to Lesser Slave Lake where they were seen to arrive by a large number of [witnesses]. They encamped on the reserve at Sucker Creek and were visited by Indians and others. On the second day after their arrival Hayward was missing. King, with all the outfit, struck camp and moved away saying his partner had gone to Sturgeon Lake. This aroused the suspicions of the Indian Chief as a shot had been heard and King was seen building a huge fire on the spot. His story about Hayward being most improbable, the Chief informed the R.N.W.M.P. with the result that portions of the supposed murdered man were found in the camp fire and articles belonging to him in a slough nearby. King was convicted at Edmonton in 1905 and a successful conclusion of the case was brought about by the hard work of Inspector K.F. Anderson then a Staff Sergeant, who was stationed at Lesser Slave Lake at the time. He was promoted to the rank of Inspector on July 1, 1915. His Officer number was 0.185. He retired to pension on January 1, 1921, and died on January 8, 1949.
“Andy’s” name is a tradition throughout the Peace River country. Anyone who ever ran across big, genial, hard-featured Sergeant Anderson of the North West Mounted Police with his pitted face and ice-blue eyes will never forget that burly Icelander. When all attempts to stem the flow of illicit firewater into Indian territory had failed, the O.C. of “N” Division sent the Sergeant to Lesser Slave Lake. Within six months the bootleg gang who had made the place accursed for nearly a decade were either behind the bars or had fled to safer climes. The irrepressible Andy would rush in where angels feared to tread and, with a stubbornness of purpose his enemies mistook for stupidity, appeared to blunder ahead — yet always got his man!
Literally and figuratively, Andy was a law unto himself. Northerners maintained he wouldn’t hesitate, if the occasion arose, to arrest his own mother. In saying Andy was the toughest policeman they had ever known they were expressing the sentiment of every fur trader, riverman and roughneck from Athabasca Landing to the Rockies.
I first came into contact with Andy the day he had fished a body out of Lesser Slave Lake, after it had been under water all winter. Entering the Hudson’s Bay post he casually flopped a large roll of soggy bills on the counter. “Would you youst count this money for me, Miles”, he asked Factor McDermott. “I vant a witness to testify to the amount.”
Miles dropped the money with a convulsive gasp. “Good God”, he said and turned a ghastly white. “Where did you get that stuff? Quick, Hodgson,” he yelled to the pale-faced clerk, “open the door!”
“I youst got it off the body”, grinned Andy.
“Body!” Miles glowered across the counter. “What body?”
“The body of that young Englishman who got drowned in Buffalo Bay last fall.”
“Weel,” roared Miles”, get oot o’ here as quick’s you can – the stench’s awful!”
“Youst a minute, Miles, youst a minute,” persisted the imperturbable Andy, “you youst watch… I’ll count the bills.”
Beaming broadly, the Sergeant commenced pawing the bills with his huge hands, moistening his finger with his thumb from time to time with an utter disregard for germs and hygiene, to the unveiled horror of the Factor and his clerk.
But the best story of this hard-boiled Mountie, a yarn still told around the campfires of the Silent Places, is of the time he dogged a criminal for months only to find him buried in the heart of the Rockies. But Andy had a reputation to maintain. He’d always got his man. To prove to Headquarters he had caught up with his quarry he cut off his head, threw it in a gunnysack and tied it to the saddle.
When he boarded the train at the end-of-steel there was something about the sinister bundle that aroused the curiosity of an inquisitive porter. Warning him not to touch it, Andy tossed it under his berth and hit the hay. But the porter’s curiosity was too much for him. As the Sergeant snored blissfully the porter hooked the gunnysack from beneath and lifted it. A grisly head rolled down the corridor, evoking screams that echoed throughout the train.
And old-timers insist that porter is running yet!