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History Post-confederation (1867-)

Murders on the Skeena

True Crime in the Old Canadian West, 1884-1914

by (author) Geoff Mynett

Caitlin Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
Post-Confederation (1867-), Historical, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price

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Part history, part true crime, Murders on the Skeena: True Crime in the Old Canadian West, 1884-1914 contains the true accounts of murders, crimes, and scandals--some of which remain unsolved to this day--in small-town northern British Columbia. With a focus on the victims as much as the cases themselves, award-winning author Geoff Mynett relates untold stories of BC's deadly history while providing both the natural and social history of the region.


Hazelton, situated where the Bulkley River joins the Skeena River, was one of the most important sites in the interior of northern BC from 1870-1913. The gold rush, the arrival of the telegraph, and the ability for steam boats to journey upriver increased outside interest in the region. As new modes of transport were built, more non-Indigenous people arrived, and as colonial law and governance increased, so did tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. One such case was that of the murder of Amos "Charley" Youmans in 1884--the escalation of a clash between the laws and customs of the Gitxsan and those of the encroaching traders and settlers. Mynett also recounts the stories of the so-called Skeena River Uprising of 1888, a bank robbery shoot-out, and a deadly dispute between two prospectors.


Peeling back historical, social, political, and geographical layers, Murders on the Skeena draws almost exclusively from documents from the time to reveal the fascinating secrets and surprising consequences of these captivating true crime tales.

About the author

Geoff Mynett was born in England where he qualified as a Barrister. After emigrating to British Columbia in 1973, he became a Canadian citizen, requalified as a lawyer and practiced law until his retirement. His first book, Service on the Skeena: Horace Wrinch, Frontier Physician (Ronsdale Press, 2019), received a Jeanne Clarke Memorial Award. His second book, Pinkerton's and the Hunt for Simon Gunanoot, and his third book, Murders on the Skeena: True Crime in the Old Canadian West, were both published by Caitlin Press. All three books were bestsellers in BC. Geoff and his wife Alice live in Vancouver and have two sons.

Geoff Mynett's profile page


  • Runner-up, Jeanne Clarke Service Award

Editorial Reviews

“I enjoyed this read. Well-researched stories based on the written record of the colonial settlers. The recurring theme of resolving Gitxsan and Western laws on the land base continues to this day. Especially relevant material in these times of moving to action in reconciling First Nations and Western worldviews.”

—Doug Donaldson, Former BC Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and Member of BC Legislative Assembly 2009-2020

“Mynett’s latest book features a series of fascinating and often sensational events in small town Hazelton, BC, during the time of the early Hudson Bay Company settlement into the traditional territory of the Gitxsan First Nations. Through impeccable archival research, Mynett entertains the reader with stories of historic events and precedent-setting legal, political and cultural conflict taking place in one small region of Northern British Columbia.”
—Jane Stevenson, author of A Trail of Two Telegraphs and The Railroader’s Wife

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