In our history, two Conservation Officers have died while carrying out their duties. In memory of their service and sacrifice, the following information includes an account of the events surrounding their death as well as a short biography of each fallen officer.
Game Warden Dennis Greenwood, 1893-1930
On July 5th, 1930, the Game Department suffered its first tragic loss when Game Warden Dennis Greenwood, of Canal Flats, BC, was shot and killed by a man whom he had previously charged for poaching deer.
Born in England in 1893, and originally trained for the ministry, Dennis Greenwood saw service in WW I as part of the Royal Artillery. Not long after the war, in 1922, Greenwood and his wife would settle in the village of Canal Flats, located at the south end of Columbia Lake in the Kootenay River Valley. Initially, Greenwood would find work as a storekeeper and postmaster in this small community. He later became a member of the BC Provincial Police and, in 1925, was one of a few members of the force specially detailed for game protection work. Writing of Greenwood’s ability as a Provincial Game Warden, a local newspaper article stated:
"Able and diplomatic in the discharge of his duties, courteous and in every way a gentleman, Mr. Greenwood had right from the start won the respect, admiration and affection of all with whom he came in contact."
In the early afternoon of July 5 th, 1930, Warden Greenwood, along with his wife and two young daughters, arrived in downtown Canal Flats, parking their car in front of Roberts’ Store and Post Office. It was a beautiful summer day and the town was busy. Many of the community’s residents were out, either on business or visiting with acquaintances.
Warden Greenwood and the storeowner’s wife, Mrs. Roberts, were having a conversation outside the store when Greenwood’s killer, William Floyd, approached the Warden. Touching him on the arm, Floyd asked Greenwood if he would speak with him behind the Warden’s car. As the two men walked to the rear of the vehicle, Mrs. Roberts moved to speak with Mrs. Greenwood who was still seated in the passenger-side front seat. Soon after, Mrs. Roberts and Mrs. Greenwood heard what they thought was a tire blowout and, turning to look, they saw Dennis Greenwood fall to the ground and William Floyd calmly walking away.
Given the time of day and location, several citizens of Canal Flats were witness to the brutal murder. Levi Markuson was sitting outside the Queens Hotel at the time and, as he rushed to assist, Floyd passed him and said, "I'm settled with that one".
The single gunshot that felled and killed Warden Greenwood had been fired from such close range that the end of his tie was singed from the gun’s muzzle blast. Dennis Greenwood regained consciousness only once, asking to see his daughters, and would die less than an hour after the fatal shot.
BC Provincial Police Constable J. Kirkup, of Cranbrook, was immediately dispatched to the scene to apprehend William Floyd. Two other provincial constables, as well as a nearby Game Warden, were dispatched shortly thereafter to assist with the manhunt.
Once in Canal Flats, Constable Kirkup proceeded directly to the Floyd residence. Soon after his arrival, Kirkup was alerted by a noise on the back porch. Opening the door, he confronted an unknown male, pistol in hand. Kirkup grabbed the pistol and, not knowing the suspect on sight, demanded to know if he was William Floyd. The suspect responded, "Yes. I think I shall give myself up. You'd better set the safety catch on that gun. I shot Greenwood but he had it coming to him". Floyd was promptly arrested and lodged in the Canal Flats jail.
Four months later, on October 20th, 1930, Floyd was tried for the murder of Dennis Greenwood, a crime for which the penalty was death. The jury would hear that the fatal encounter on July 5th had not been the first confrontation between the two men. The previous winter, Floyd had been charged by Greenwood for poaching three deer. He had shot the deer out of season, poisoning their carcasses in an effort to bait coyotes. At the time, predator control, not only for coyotes but for a range of other species, was encouraged through a government sponsored bounty system.
Floyd was convicted of poaching but his sentencing temporarily postponed. He was down on his luck at the time and could not afford to pay the costly fine. Warden Greenwood, as was his character, contacted the Ministry of Attorney General directly to see if the penalty could not be reduced. It was not. In fact, Floyd’s sentence was to be passed on July 5th, at 3 pm, in the Canal Flats courthouse – the very day of Greenwood’s murder.
According to court testimony, William Floyd was known as a quiet and soft-spoken man. He had served during WW I as a sniper and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry in the field. Counsel for the defence would argue that recent family and financial troubles, including Floyd’s conviction for poaching, had "unhinged his mind". After a short deliberation, the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Two days after his murder, Game Warden Dennis Greenwood was laid to rest in a small military section of the Windermere cemetery. People came from all over to pay their last respects to a man who had been held in high regard. Dennis Greenwood was 37 years old.
Game Warden Albert E. Farey, 1882-1932
Provincial Game Commissioner, A. Bryan Williams, described Game Warden Albert Farey as “a popular officer with a splendid war and peacetime record”.
On October 3rd, 1932, the Game Department suffered its second tragic loss in as many years when Game Warden Albert E. Farey, of Lillooet, BC, was shot and killed while inspecting an illegally possessed deer hide.
Albert or “Bert” Farey was born in England in 1882. Farey immigrated to Canada in 1900, at the age of eighteen, and would eventually settle in the Lillooet area in 1920. His diverse experience as a big game guide, trapper, forestry patrol officer, Dominion Police Officer, and twelve years as a BC Provincial Police constable were a perfect fit for life as a Game Warden. Farey was also a decorated WW I veteran who had been wounded in action.
Provincial Game Commissioner, A. Bryan Williams, described Game Warden Albert Farey as "a popular officer with a splendid war and peacetime record".
As with Dennis Greenwood and William Floyd, the tragic encounter between Warden Farey and his killer, Frank Gott, had not been their first. In 1929, Farey had charged Gott for the illegal possession of a deer carcass, for which he was later fined a total of $25.00 (approximately $290.00 by today’s standards). As a result of this conviction, Gott would bear a grudge against Farey for the next three years, a growing enmity that would culminate in the Warden’s ruthless murder.
On October 3 rd, 1932, Frank Gott had set up a hunting camp along the north fork of the Bridge River. With him were J. Thomas Dalton and 14-year-old Raymond Millar. Shortly after setting their camp, Warden Farey made contact with the three men. After a brief conversation with Gott, he decided to search the camp and its surrounding area. As a result of these efforts, Farey uncovered a bag containing a deer hide. However, the hide did not have the proper species tags affixed, which made its possession illegal. At some point during his questioning of Gott, as Warden Farey turned away to inspect the deer hide more closely, Gott fired two shots into his back, killing Farey instantly. According to Raymond Millar's testimony, "I saw Frank bring the rifle up about halfway and fire. Mr. Farey fell at the first shot".
After shooting the Warden, Gott handed the rifle over to one of his companions and walked calmly into the bush.
Following a two-day manhunt, Divisional Game Supervisor R.M. Robertson and Game Warden W.O. Quesnel confronted Gott at a crossing on the Bridge River. Gott refused to surrender and, ignoring several warning shots, was shot and wounded in the leg as he tried to escape. In a sad twist to an already tragic affair, Gott never stood trial for the killing as he died en route to the hospital from a combination of shock and advanced tuberculosis.
Warden Farey's murder was overshadowed by criticism of the police manhunt, as many in the community viewed Gott’s death as unnecessary. Gott, seventy-six years old at the time, and a life-long resident of the Lillooet area, was legendary for his skill as a woodsman and big game guide. A decorated WW I veteran, he had dyed his grey hair and enlisted in the army at the age of sixty, serving with distinction as a sniper. Proud of his military service and wartime achievements, Gott was known to have worn his army cap long after the war had ended. However, many critics chose to ignore that he had shot a dedicated Game Warden, in cold-blood, with no chance to defend himself.
While the local newspapers were keen to chronicle Gott's guiding expertise, outdoor skills and wartime achievements, scant attention was paid to the life of the murdered game warden. Game Warden “Bert” Farey was buried in the Lillooet cemetery. His funeral never even made the newspapers of the day.