Vintage Edmonton: William Wallace McKay Murder (June 29, 1949) Part 1

Courtesy of The Provincial Archives Of Alberta

One of the most fun (maybe *the* most fun) things about wandering the newspaper archives are the things you find when researching something seemingly innocuous, like the above photo.

Recently, the Provincial Archives Of Alberta posted on it's twitter page a photo of a boxcar house in Jasper Place at 9930 157 Street on June 30, 1949:

I immediately became intrigued by the photo; fellow Edmonton History buff John Hanson noticed something as well:

That did it; I decided to go searching through the Journal archives to see what I could find.

In searching, I looked for 9930 157 Street. The first hit in the archives came up on March 15, 1948:

The Caboose in the ad immediately perked my interest; might it be the boxcar itself in the boxcar house?

The next hit was this classified ad starting on April 22, 1949 and was regularly in the Journal until June 16:

So far, nothing very interesting. Until the next hit on July 2, 1949:


9930 157 Street in 2012:

The discovery of the body of William Wallace McKay in a shallow grave at 9930 157 St on June 30, 1949 was one of the most lurid and grisly in Edmonton's history. The sheer violence in the death of McKay by former Edmonton Police Force member, railway, and hotel worker Michael Joseph Hayes aka Thomas Lee in a drinking party/robbery that turned deadly shocked the city, helped along by the screaming headlines of The Journal on July 2, and in the increasingly ghastly details of the murder in the months that followed. 

9696 Jasper Avenue, Goodridge Block, home of William Wallace McKay:

Because of renovations suite 104 doesn't exist today, but this is roughly where the door would have been located. Thanks to Hugh for the photo:

In one of the many macabre twists in this story, the photo in the original PAA tweet of the boxcar house on June 30, 1949 not only caught the house on the day of the police investigation, but the shallow grave where McKay was buried alive as well: 

as well as a companion shot in the backyard garden looking towards 9926 157 Street:

The 2 men hired by Hayes to dig the gravel "pit" in the front of the house were interviewed and gave their story:

July 4:

Hayes and Alfred "Buster" Robbins were arraigned at the Court House; Robbins was arrested in Moon Lake and brought to Edmonton to face charges of being a material witness to McKay's death: 

July 8:

July 9:

It was 91 degrees Fahrenheit in Edmonton when the preliminary hearing for Michael Joseph Hayes began, and 100 packed the court presided over by Magistrate McCulla to hear all the grisly details:  

July 15:

July 16:

Magistrate McCulla had heard enough and ruled Hayes to stand trial for the murder of William Wallace McKay, while Buster Robbins was jailed for Vagrancy:

July 18:

July 19:

August 30:

Michael Joseph Hayes' trial for Murder would begin on October 17, 1949.

You can read Part 2- the Trial and aftermath