Although Canada’s frontier West may not have been as wild as the American West, the region still attracted those who lived beyond the confines of the law. One of those individuals being Bill Miner.
Bill Miner created an enduring legend that grew up around one of the Old West’s most unusual outlaws. Credited with coining the phrase “Hands Up” he was known far and wide for his genteel manners and apologetic demeanour.
He had spent more than thirty-five years in American prisons for stagecoach robberies before moving north to B.C. when he was about sixty years old.
In 1904, this soft-spoken American and his two accomplices Shorty Dunn and Louis Colquhoun, would perform what is considered to be Canada’s first train robbery at Silverdale British Columbia.
Despite his penchant for robbing stage coaches in the USA, Miner was not quite as lucky holding up the iron horse just outside of Kamloops Monte Creek in 1906 (right outside of our tasting room windows!). THE CPR Transcontinental did not contain the shipment of registered mail destined for the San Francisco earthquake relief fund which was carried on a different train altogether.
After departing the train by foot, the bandits only managed to make off with $15.50 and a handful of liver pills.
In spite of being positively identified as Bill Miner, the old bandit refused to admit anything insisting that he was George Edwards – his alias. Hundreds of supporters came to town to protest his arrest refusing to believe this popular old gent could be the most wanted outlaw in the West. Bill Miner’s bold attacks on the unpopular CPR, however, made him a folk hero to many western Canadians.Miner and his accomplices were convicted and sent to the B.C. Penitentiary at New Westminster. In a few months Miner escaped, fled to the U.S. and resumed his career. Arrested in 1911 after committing Georgia’s first train robbery, the Gentleman Bandit died in Georgia State Penitentiary in 1913. His tombstone reads:
Bill Miner — last of the old time outlaws.
Follow the link to listen to DR. OXIDE with THE MONSTER POCKET BAND’s song about Billy Miner! https://soundcloud.com/droxide/bill-miner
You can find his mugshot, taken by Mary Spencer, on a bottle of our Hands Up Red.