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Hilda Blake's Crime

On a warm Wednesday afternoon in July of 1899, Mary Lane, wife and pregnant mother of four, was shot inside the parlour of her 10th Street home in Brandon. As she collapsed on the sidewalk outside her upper middle-class home, Mary Lane’s neighbours rushed to her side. The Lane family servant, Hilda Blake, soon emerged from the house to bathe Mary’s face with water while neighbours ran for help. Tragically, the 32 year-old Mary Lane died within minutes, without naming her killer.

The murder of a middle-class wife and mother in the small town of Brandon created a stir among residents and captured the attention of both province and country. Especially offensive to many was that this respectable woman was violently shot in the supposed safety of her home on a quiet afternoon. Hilda Blake stepped forward as the only eyewitness to the horrific event, describing in great detail how a tramp had shot Mary after having been refused a meal.

Police Chief James Kircaldy arrived shortly after the murder to begin his investigation. Within hours, Kircaldy began to see holes in Blake’s story, and several days later, she was charged with the murder of her employer, Mary Lane.

Photograph of Brandon, Manitoba, c. 1900
A view of the city of Brandon. A of M, Brandon 21, view, c. 1900.
Photograph of Brandon, Manitoba, c. 1899
A view of the city of Brandon from the Northeast. A of M, Brandon 28, view, 1899.

Find out more... search Hilda Blake in the Keystone Archives Descriptive Database.