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RETURN To an Order of the House, showing all the evidence taken at the inquest held on the body of John… British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1896

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 59 Vict. Inquest on the Body of John Rowe. 929
RETURN
To an Order of the House, showing all the evidence taken at the inquest held on the
body of John Rowe, who was killed by a fall of rock while in the employ of the
Union Colliery Company, Comox, together with all papers and correspondence in
connection with the same, and the verdict of the jury.
D. M. EBERTS,
A ttorney- General.
Attorney-General's Office,
March 9th, 1896.
Union, October 3rd,  1895.
Hon. D. M. Eberts,
Attorney-General, Victoria, B. C.
Dear Sir,—Enclosed you will please find the verdict of the jury, also the depositions
touching on the inquiry into the death of one John Rowe, who was killed in No. 9 stall, No.
11 east level, in the Lake Mine, Union.
Trusting everything is satisfactory, I am, etc.,
James Abrams,
Coroner.
INQUISITION.
An Inquisition indented taken at Cumberland, British Columbia, the 26th day of September, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lady Victoria, before me, James Abrams,
gentleman, one of the Coroners for our Lady the Queen, for the Town of Cumberland aforesaid, upon the view of the body of John Rowe, then and there and within the jurisdiction of
the said Coroner, lying dead, upon the oaths of Ed. Jones, John H. Campbell, George Haskins,
William H. Davidson, Edward W. McKim, Matthew Mitchell, C. A. VanHouten, good and
lawful men of Cumberland aforesaid, in the said Town of Cumberland, who being now here
sworn and charged to inquire, on the part of our said Lady the Queen, when, where, how, and
after what manner the said John Rowe came to his death, do say upon their oath that we the
undersigned Jurors, duly sworn to inquire into the cause of the death of John Rowe, find,
after examining the witnesses, that the said John Rowe came to his death by a fall of rock
from the roof of No. 9 Stall, 11 East Level, partly through the neglect of the Colliery Company
not supplying stringers when asked for and neglect on his own part in working in stall without
proper timbers.
In witness whereof, as well the aforesaid Coroner as the Jurors aforesaid, have to this
Inquisition put their seals, on the day and year and at the place first above mentioned.
Ed. Jones, Foreman.
John H. Campbell.
Geo. Haskins.
William H. Davidson.
Edward W. McKim.
Matthew Mitchell.
C. A. VanHouten.
James Abrams, Coroner.
L.S.
L.S.
L.S.
L.S.
L.S.
L.S.
L.S. 930 Inquest on the Body of John Rowe. 1896
CORONER'S INQUEST.
Held before James Abrams, Coroner, at 2 o'clock on the 18th day of September, 1895, at
Union, B.C., to inquire into the cause of the death of one John Rowe, who was killed in No.
4 Slope, Lake Mine, Union, B.C., on the evening of the 17th of September, 1895.
The following gentlemen were duly sworn in as a jury at the office of James Abrams,
Coroner :—
Edward Jones, Foreman, John Campbell, William Davidson, Edward McKim, George
Haskins, Matthew Mitchell, Charles VanHouten.
The jury then proceeded to the residence of the deceased with Dr. Lawrence, the deceased's
medical adviser, and viewed the body; then proceeded to the place in the mine where the
deceased met his death, and then adjourned until 7 o'clock p.m. to meet at the jail.
When again assembled, again adjourned until September 25th' at 7 o'clock p.m., at the
request of the Inspector of Mines.
The Court was again convened on September 25th at 7 o'clock p.m., the Inspector of
Mines being present.    The jury all answered to their names.
Lay Kee was sworn in as an interpreter to the Chinese witnesses.
The inquest was again adjourned until 26th September, 1895, at 10 a.m.
The inquest was again convened on Wednesday, September 26th, at 10 a.m.
M. Celle was sworn in as an interpreter to the Italian witnesses.
James Abrams,
Coroner.
EVIDENCE.
The evidence of Richard Hodson, being duly sworn, saith:—
My name is Richard Henry Hodson ; I reside in Union ; I am a miner ; I was in the
No. 4 Slope, Lake Mine, on the evening of the 17th September; the fire boss, A. Somerville,
came into my place about twenty-five minutes past eight; he gave me a hand to put up a
stringer; he left me about two minutes and he said " come out" ; I asked him what was the
matter; he said there was a man killed ; he said " bring a lagging " ; I took a lagging out of
a box ; I followed Mr. Somerville into No. 9 Stall; I saw someone under a rock ; we were
trying to lift the rock off; I told Mr. Somerville and the Italian and the Jap to ease the
rock up and 1 would pull him out; when we took him out we took him down to the level; I
asked if he was dead ; 1 put my hand over his heart, and it was beating; Mr. Somerville
put his hand over the deceased's heart; about half a minute after he let two or three gasps,
and I put my hand over his heart again and it had stopped beating; we put him in a box,
and brought him up the slope out of the mine.
Cross-questioned by a juryman :—
When we found him, his head was between his knees; there was a little blood on his
knees; we packed the deceased from his stall into the level; I got the box from my stall; the
box I took the lagging from was in my stall; there was some stringers in some empty boxes
on the landing; the stringers were brought in to me about three-quarters of an hour before
the accident; I believe I saw the driver when we were taking the body out.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Dick :—
The stringers are generally kept on the landing; when we want any, we tell the driver to
bring them down; the rock was about a ton weight; I did not examine the place where the
rock fell; I think I saw a slip close to a stringer; the bottom side of the rock was down; the
top side of the rock was not smooth; I was slightly acquainted with the deceased ; sometimes
we don't get the timber at the time we ask for it.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Russell:—
We can't make a place secure until we get stringers; we tell the fire boss when we want
stringers; he tells us he will send them as soon as he can.
Cross-questioned by the Coroner :—
Sometimes it is two or three hours before we get the stringers when we ask for them; we
always get them on the shift sometimes. 59 Vict. Inquest on the Body of John Rowe. 931
Cross-questioned by a juryman :—
I have never had to go home for want of stringers.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Dick :—
I was never sent home for not having my place properly timbered ; there is always plenty
of posts around my place ;  I have worked in a good many places in the mine.
Cross-questioned by a juryman:—
You can secure the roof about ten or twelve feet, and further, but it would block the
road, so you have to use stringers.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Russell:—
We are paid for putting stringers in ; I was never checked for putting too many in.
R. H. Hodson.
James Abrams, Coroner.
The evidence of A. Somerville, being duly sworn, saith :—
My name is Alexander Somerville ; I reside in Union; am a fire boss ; I was in No. 4
Slope on the evening of the 17th September; when I went in on the second run, an Italian, a
Chinaman, and a Jap were in No. 9 Stall in 11 East Level; they were trying to lift the rock
off the top of John Rowe when I went in; I tried with them, and was not able to lift the
rock, and was not able to take the deceased out without help; I went and got Mr. Hodson;
Mr. Hodson came, and when we eased the rock Mr. Hodson pulled the deceased out from
under the rock ; we took the deceased down to the level; I sent in to the level and got a car
out to put him in; then I went and got the trip on the slope to take the deceased out of the mine.
Cross-questioned by a juryman :—
I was in the deceased's place about a quarter past five the first time; the deceased was
mining a shot in the centre of the face, just about opposite the track; the deceased h .d no
hitch cuts for the stringers; it is customary for a miner to have a stringer delivered at the
face when he wants one; the driver is there to take the stringer to the face for the miner
when he wants it; I examined the roof on my first round ; I spoke to the deceased about the
roof ; I told the deceased to put another post in next to the face ; there was a square tie set
for the post underneath the rock when I came in the first time; the falling of the rock did
not cause the removal of the post; the tie is not standing there yet; I do not know how the
tie came out; I think it is about six feet or six feet and a half from the last stringer to the
face on the left hand side; I cannot say how far it is on the right hand side; I do not think
there could be more than one stringer set there to allow a man to work ; the deceased had a
shot ready when I came around the first time ; the deceased fired the shot; a person can
secure the place with single timbers until he had space enough to put the stringers up; he did
not ask me for a stringer the shift previous; after I ordered him to put up the stringer, it was
about three hours before I came back; when I came back he was under the rock.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Dick :—
I will not let a man stay in his place if I think he is in danger of his life, and there is no
stringer; I will send him home; the prop I ordered him to put up, and it is there now.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Russell.
Cross-questioned by a juryman :—
I do not think the rock swung out, unless it did after it fell; I believe there is room
enough for two boxes; I do not think it unreasonable to lift a stringer over a loaded box, that
is at the face; a square tie was under the rock that came down.
Alex. Somerville.
James Abrams, Coroner.
The evidence of Jim Matteo, being duly sworn, saith:—
My name is Jim Matteo; I live in Union; I am a miner; I was in the Lake Mine, No.
4 Slope, on the evening of the 17th September; I heard a rock fall down and a Chinaman
came and told me to go quick, quick to the next place ; when I went in I saw only a piece of
the man's back, because he was all covered up with rock ; I tried to take the rock, but we
could not do it ; then the shot lighter came and the three of us could not do it, so we sent for
the level man (Mr. Hudson); after we took the rock off we took the deceased out into the
level ; we waited there until an empty car came, and we put him in it and took him out on
the landing. 932 Inquest on the Body of John Rowe. 1896
Cross-examined by a juryman :—
I could not see anything but a piece of broken tie about two feet long; there was nothing
under the rock ; I was in the face before the rock fell; I was in the stall ten minutes before
the rock fell; he was wedging the bottom up with a wedge; he was on the right hand side;
the deceased told me he was waiting for a stringer, they just took the box away, and that they
would bring the stringer in the next box; I did not ask for a stringer that night, but I
asked for one the night before, but could not get one; I did not ask for a stringer that day,
Monday afternoon; the deceased told me he asked for a stringer; his place is pretty close to
mine, and I was in there pretty often; the deceased's head was nearly touching the ground;
he was stooping over; the deceased's head was pointing to the left hand side.
Interpreted to Jim Matteo by M. Celle, interpreter.
M. Celie,
James Abrams, Coroner. G. Matteo.
The evidence of Owen Gatley, being duly sworn, saith:—
My name is Owen Gatley; I reside in Union ; I am a driver; I was in the mine on the
evening of the 17th of September; the deceased was working in the mine on the night of the
17th ; soon after he went in he asked me if there was any stringers; I told him there was
none; he said I must bring one in as soon as they came down ; I was not there when he was
killed ; it was about half-past four in the afternoon when he asked me for the stringer.
Cross-questioned by a juryman : —
He asked me on Monday afternoon for a stringer, and Tuesday afternoon; I did not take
him one in on Monday afternoon; there was not any stringers; I am supposed to tell the
miners when there is not any stringers on the landing ; the miners are supposed to tell the
fire boss; there was not any stringers come down between Monday afternoon and Tuesday
afternoon; the stringers came down about half-past five or a quarter to six on Tuesday afternoon ; I had no opportunity of taking a stringer down to the deceased's place between the
time they came down and the time of the accident; I was going into the level with some empty
cars when I heard of the accident; I had a car for the deceased; I had one stringer, one
seven foot post, and some lagging in the car for the deceased; I drive for Dick Hudson; he is
on the main level; I took a stringer in to Dick Hudson shortly before the accident occurred ;
we generally run three, four, and five cars in a trip ; I usually start in the face of the level
and make up my trip as I come out; Number 9 is the last stall; the deceased had a box of
coal in his stall; I took Dick Hudson a box in and then came out and got the deceased's box,
and he told me to bring the stringer in on the next box; I did not leave him an empty box;
I waited a few minutes for his box to be filled; after I took his box out I went outside and
got a box from Number 2 and Number 3; when I took the deceased's box he said he would be
ready for the stringer when I came back.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Russell :—
I am sure there was no timber taken in ; the driver of the morning shift told me there
was no stringers brought down; I don't know if there was any brought down on the 11
o'clock shift ; Rowe had filled three boxes that shift; he filled his second box about half-past
five ; there was no stringers when I brought in the third box ; I consider the stringer would
be in time for him if he was ready for it; there was no stringers there on Monday when I
started the shift; I did not notice a prop through the curtain on the left hand side.
Owen Gatley.
James Abrams, Coroner.
The evidence of Dr. Lawrence, being duly sworn, saith :—
My name is Robert Lawrence ; I am a duly registered practitioner of this Province ; I
reside at Union ; I was sent for on the evening of the 17th; I found the deceased lying in his
room; he was dead, but still warm ; I made a physical examination; I found the spine
severed in the region of the fourth dorsal vertebrae; also two or more ribs on the right side
were separated from the sternum ; on the left side two of the ribs were broken, and had
evidently punctured the lung ; the air had escaped from the lung into the tissues surrounding
the lung ; the chest had been crushed in. There was a rubbing of the skin on the shoulders,
also on the right side of the face; the rest of the body was not injured.
Cross-examined by a juryman :—
The deceased might have been standing up or stooping over at the time of the fall of rock.
R. Lawrence.
James Abrams, Coroner. 59 Vict. Inquest on the Body of John Rowe. 933
The evidence of Donald McKay, being duly sworn, saith :—
My name is Donald McKay ; I reside at Union ; I am a driver ; there was some timber-
ordered on the morning of the 17th September ; it did not go down ; the stringers were not
ready to go down ; they were not cut at 12 o'clock ; I went and looked, and could only get
four stringers for the landing before that; there are persons on top to cut the timber ; the
night fire boss ordered the timber when he came off his shift in the morning; there had been
no complaints the day before for stringers.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Russell :—
I asked the Chinaman if there was any more stringers ; he said there was no more.
D. McKay.
James Abrams, Coroner.
The evidence of Ah Fong, being duly sworn, saith :—
My name is Ah Fong ; I work in No. 4 Slope, Lake Mine ; I was in the Lake Mine, in
No. 4 Slope, on the 17th September, in No. 9 Stall ; I was shovelling coal; the deceased told
me to shovel dross ; the deceased was making a hole in the coal; the deceased was not working very long before the rock fell down ; a big rock fell down and hurt the deceased ; I left
the deceased ; I could not lift the rock up ; I went and told some people to come ; I went to
No. 8 Stall and told a white man and a Jap to come and take the rock off with a piece of
lagging; five or six men lifted the rock off the deceased ; they pulled the deceased out from
under the rock ; the deceased was dead when they took him out.
Cross-questioned by a juryman :—
The deceased was making a hole to put a stringer up ; I did not hear the deceased ask for
a stringer ; I was working for the deceased five days last month and eight days this month ; I
did not see a box come into the place where the deceased worked after he was hurt.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Dick :—
There was no stringer in the place to be put at the time the rock fell on the deceased ; a
white man and a Chinaman brings the timber into the places.
Cross-questioned by a juryman :—
The deceased asked for a stringer, and the men that brings them did not bring it; the
deceased asked the man that drives the mule to bring him a stringer ; the deceased was making
a hole iu the side when the rock fell ; they lifted the deceased in a car; they brought the
deceased out in a car.
Interpreted to Ah Fong by Loy Kee.
Loy Kee.
James Abrams, ^
Coroner. Ah X JONG.
mark.
The evidence of Joseph Livsley, being duly sworn, saith :—
I was in the deceased's place about half-past one p.m. the last time, on the 17th September ; I asked Mclntyre if he had got the timber; he told me no; I told him not to fire any
shots until he got some; to look at the place, it seemed to be safe, but the roof is treacherous;
the reason I told him not to fire a shot, because it might knock the props out; 1 did not see
any place for a stringer; Mr. Mclntyre asked me for a stringer; I have not noticed any rules
in the mine in a conspicuous place.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Dick :—
When Mr. Mclntyre asked for a stringer, I went into the level, and then into the
counter level, and then into the landing to see for one; he did not get one that day; they
generally take stringers clown on the afternoon and morning shifts ; there was plenty of timber
lying near the entrance of the mine; I have been fire boss about four or five months; I have
never been checked for ordering too much timber; as a general rule, the timber goes down.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Russell :—
A man can keep the place safe until he gets the stringer; there was some props there
that day ; the prop that Mr. Mclntyre put there was sufficient to keep the rock up until the
stringer was put up.
Cross-questioned by a juryman.
Joseph Livsley.
James Abrams, Coroner. 934
Inquest on the Body of John Rowe.
1896
The evidence of Robert McIntyre, being duly sworn, saith :—
My name is Robert Mclntyre ; I reside in Union ; I am a miner; I saw the rock that
fell on the deceased; I put a timber up to the rock before I left it; it is a pretty fair bottom ;
generally sink the props a little ; we did not have a stringer because there was not any ; I
reported to the fire boss that there was not any stringers; he said they were ordered ; he did
not send me home; I asked for stringers on the morning of the 17th of September ; I did not
work all the shift; I was waiting for the stringers to come down ; the night shift worked in
the place ahead of me ; I did not have the place ready for stringers ; I told the deceased he
could not work until he got the timber; the tie was set up for a post because there was not
any posts there.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Dick :—■
I considered the tie would hold the rock ; I knew it was not safe for me to work there.
Cross-questioned by Mr. Russell:—
I considered the tie was strong enough to hold the rock ; I met the deceased on the top ;
I left the face, at twenty minutes past one ; each man is paid for his own stringers ; I left the
place because I thought it was unsafe ; I told Mr. Livsley I wanted stringers ; I told the
driver I wanted two stringers.
Cross-questioned by a juryman:—
I consider there was room for two stringers.
Robert McIntyre.
James  Abrams,
Coroner.
We undersigned jurors duly sworn to inquire into the cause of the death of John Rowe
find, after examining the witnesses, that the said John Rowe came to his death by a fall of
rock frorn the roof of No. 9 stall. No. 11 East Level, partly through the neglect of the Colliery
Company not supplying stringers when asked for, and neglect on his own part in working in
stall without proper timbers.
Ed. Jones, Foreman.
John  H.  Campbell,
George Haskins,
William H. Davidson,
Edward W. McKim,
Matthew Mitchell,
C. A. VanHouten.
- Jurors.
So say you all.
James Abrams,
Coroner.
Attorney-General's Office,
Victoria, B. C, October 7th, 1895.
Sir,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the date
quoted iu the margin (Oct. 3rd, 1895), forwarding inquisition upon the body of one John
Rowe.
I enclose a model of an inquisition and depositions of witnesses, to show the form to be
followed.
I have, etc.,
(Signed)        Arthur G. Smith,
Jas. Abrams, Esq., Deputy Attorney-General.
Coroner, Union, B. C. 59 Vict.
Inquest on the Body of John Rowe.
93£
Union, B. C, January 21st, 1896.
The Deputy Attorney-General,
Victoria, B. G.
Sir,—By request of the Inspector of Mines, enclosed please find depositions of Morrin
Cly, and continuation of the evidence of Ah Fung, touching upon the death of the late John
Rowe, who was killed in the Union Colliery Coal Company's Mine on the 17th of September,
1895. I have, etc.,
(Signed)        James Abrams, Coroner.
Morrin Cly, duly sworn, says as follows:—
My occupation is timber yard man at lake Mine ; on the 17th of September, 1895, there
was ample timber, both stringers and props, at the mouth of the slope of the Lake Mine ; I
have been timber yard man for three years ; there was always plenty of timber in the yard
for mining purposes ; owing to the mine being closed from the 10th of September until the
16th September the men kept cutting timbers, consequently there was a large supply of
timbers on hand on the 17th of September.
Morrin Cly.
Taken upon oath and acknowledged this 16th day of January, A. D. 1896.
James Abrams, Coroner.
Ah Fung, duly sworn, and Wing Chong, duly sworn as interpreter:—
I reside in Union; by occupation a labourer ; I was working with the late John Rowe
on the evening of the seventeenth of September, 1895 in No. 11 East Level, No. 9 Stall, No.
4 Slope, Union Colliery Coal Company's Mine ; when Rowe and I went into the stall to work
I saw Rowe after we were working some time in the mine take out a prop from under the
rock, which afterwards fell on Rowe ; the rock fell about one-half hour after Rowe took the
prop out; after the rock fell I tried to raise it, but could not, and went for help; the rock fell
on Rowe about six hours after commencing work.
His
Wing Chong, Ah  X Fung.
Interpreter. Mark.
Taken upon oath and acknowledged this 16th day of January, A. D. 1896.
James Abrams, Coroner.
Attorney-General's Office,
Victoria, B. C, 27th January, 1896.
James Abrams, Esq.,
Coroner, Union, B. C.
Sir,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your communications of the 6th,
18th and 21st inst., forwarding inquisition held on view of the body of Charles Dallas, inquisition held on view of the body of Mah Hee, and further evidence regarding the death of John
Rowe. I have, etc.,
(Signed)        Arthur G. Smith,
Deputy Attorney-General.
Provincial Secretary's Office,
Victoria, B. 0., December 23rd, 1895.
Sir,—I have the honour to call your attention to the accompanying statement in the
" Province " newspaper, with regard to the state of affairs at the Union Mines, and to request
that you report upon the same as early as possible.
I am, etc.,
(Signed)        James Baker,
Archibald Dick, Esq., Minister of Mines.
Inspector of Mines, Nanaimo.
194
0 9 Q 936 Inquest on the Body of John Rowe. 1896
Nanaimo, B. C, December 26th, 1895.
Col. Hon. James Baker,
Minister of Alines, Victoria, B. C.
Sir,—In answer to your letter of the 23rd, asking me to report to you on an article that
was published in the "Province" newspaper in the issue of December 21st, 1895.
Having received a notice from F. D. Little, Manager of the Union Colliery, that a miner
named John Rowe had been killed by a fall of rock while at work in his stall in No. 11 level,
No. 4 slope, of the above colliery, on 18th day of September, 1895, I left for Union on the
25th, to examine the place of the accident and attend the Coroner's inquest.
I went to the mine directly after getting to Union, along with Mr. Russell, overman.
When I got to the place, which I examined fully, here I saw what appeared to be about one
ton of rock lying on the floor. This is said to be what fell on deceased. The place or stall
was not properly timbered to make the working safe. The stringer nearest the coal face was
six feet back. All this space was without a prop, but there was a hole in the rib as if ready
for the end of a stringer. In this open there should have been quite a few props on one
stringer, to make the place safe to work in.
I will now go to the inquest, or enquiry, as to the cause of the death of John Rowe, but
as the proceedings are now filed in the Attorney-General's Office, which I now refer you to,
you will there observe that the principal witnesses in this enquiry were three in number :
1st.—The Chinaman that was working with deceased, this being the only person that
was there at the time of the accident, and gave the alarm to those that came after. Deceased
had asked for a stringer, but it had not come in, but was expected in on the first car, and had
been told so by the mule-driver Deceased was making preparation for the same. To support
the rock that fell there was a prop, which was put in by Mr. Mclntrye of the previous shift.
This prop was at its work when the shot examiner was in Rowe's place before the accident.
The Chinaman says deceased knocked out this prop to give more room for the handling and
getting in the stringer. This was the cause of the accident, so that if the prop had been left
standing, in all likelihood Rowe would have been alive to-day. I think it did not come out in
evidence that the prop referred to had been taken out, but the Chinaman says positively that
he saw Rowe knock it out.
2nd. — Mr. Mclntyre, who worked on the previous shift to Rowe, says that he put in the
prop referred to, and he also told the deceased that it was not safe to work without a stringer
to support the roof, as it was bad.     Mr. Mclntyre also describes what this prop was like.
3rd.—The shot examiner was in the place previous to the accident. He said that he saw
the prop, and took notice that it was a large tie put in temporarily as a support to the roof.
As I have said, the taking out of the prop referred to was the cause of the accident, and
was found standing up against the side, and was used as a lever to raise the rock off deceased.
All this goes to show that the Chinaman is right, and that the prop must have been taken out,
deceased not thinking that the roof would fall before the stringer was in.
See Special Rule 58, which was read to the Coroner's Jury, of which they were also
provided with a copy.
John Rowe must have known that the roof was bad, in addition to Mr. Mclntyre telling
him. His own knowledge as a miner should have been sufficient, and taken the advice of
Rule 58 if he was short of timber.
Hoping that the above explanation is satisfactory,
I have, &c,
(Signed)        Archibald Dick,
Government Inspector of Mines.
victoria, b. C:
Printed by Richard Wolfenden, Printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty,

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