Nova Scotia Archives' "Notices for the Apprehensions of Criminals" (MG 9 Vol 52) is a 60-page scrapbook of over 225 wanted posters, correspondence from law officers and detective agencies, lists of stolen property and notices of missing persons, dating from 1868 to 1888. They were addressed to the Chief of Police or the City Marshall of Halifax and were sent from Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, several states in the United States, England, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, Prussia, and The Netherlands. They are arranged in rough chronological order and many include small carte de visite photographs. The notice from Prussia dated 23 October 1883 is printed in Russian, German, English and French.
The Halifax Police Department was officially established on 28 October 1864 when the day and night patrols were merged under City Marshall Garrett Cotter. The obituary of Nicholas Power, patrolman, detective and Chief of Police, describes Nova Scotia at the end of the 19th century as a place where "Crime was rampant ... and Halifax besides was the refugee city for international forgers, bank defaulters — all types of crooks in the United States and Upper Canada seeking escape from here to Europe."1
There is no information on who compiled this material. It was received while Garrett Cotter was City Marshall and Chief of Police and while Lewis Hutt and Nicholas Power were police detectives. Lewis "Lew" Hutt (ca.1820-1882), "the man the detective position on the Halifax force was created for,"1 joined the force about 1860 and retired in 18802. He was succeeded by Nicholas "Nick" Power (1843-1938), perhaps the most illustrious police officer to serve on the Halifax force; it is tempting to suggest that it was Power who compiled these notices in a scrapbook.
Power joined the force in 1864, was promoted to sergeant 7 years later, and became police detective in 1880. His obituary in 1938 records that he "tracked down more international crooks than any other detective on the North American continent."1 Even before he was elevated to detective, he was called upon to solve cases in Detective Hutt's absence. He solved a robbery at the Halifax Fishwick Express Company, trailed a Nova Scotia bank robber to Michigan, and solved a two-year rash of Halifax house robberies. In 1880, he captured John Gordon, wanted in New York for forgery.
Most famously, he is credited with saving the life of HRH Prince George (later HM King George V) in 1883 by foiling a plot to blow up the British training vessel HMS Canada while anchored in Halifax harbor, and on which the Prince was midshipman. Power not only caught criminals but saved the life of at least one innocent man. Tried in Halifax for the murder of Peter Doyle, William Preeper was sentenced to hang on 16 January 1889. Sir John S T Thompson, doubting the evidence and trusting in Power's earlier finding of "accidental suicide," revoked Preeper's sentence.
No matter who created this scrapbook, it is an interesting and rare look at crime in the late 19th century and offers an insight into just how "international" the police of Halifax were.
1. "Nicholas Power, Colorful Haligonian Passes to His Reward" Halifax Chronicle, 2 October 1938 p 5
2. Obituary of Lewis Hutt, Acadian Recorder 3 October 1882 p 2
There is usually evening parking available in the Nova Scotia Archives parking lot and on nearby streets, so we suggest you either start or end your Nocturne adventure with us! See even more posters on our Flickr account afterwards, www.flickr.com/nsarchives/. A behind-the-scenes tour of the Archives also available at 7 p.m. (max. 15 participants). The Archives is wheelchair accessible. Light refreshments provided.