Steele Collection MS 2008.

circa 1911-1915

Murder of an NWMP office. Manuscript B, 548-550


About the latter end of November a sad circumstance took place in the murder of one of our men by an Indian. Constable Grayburn, a son of Captain Grayburn of the Marine Department at Ottawa was the victim he was one of the horse guard at the herd camp some miles up the valle [sic] and had been sent to get a picket rope and an axe which had been forgotten at a former Camp Ground from which the Guard had recently moved and not returning when expected a search was made and a report sent in to the Fort. A party including those at the herd camp searched until a late hour and patrols circled for trails in the vicinity until they had to wait for daylight. Next morning they were at it again, Colonel Macleod, Sergeants Johnston and Giveen Constables Manseau and others with Potts at last came upon the trail that which had been partly covered with snow. The murdered man spoke the Blackfoot language well although he was a recruit of the previous spring and was a great favourite with the his comrades and the Indians as well, had he had been joined by two Indians who had ridden on each side of his, no doubt in conversation when at last one of the them bolted suddenly and fired a shot through the lad’s back. He had fallen head foremost but at the place where he was shot there would have been no trace of the crime had not Jerry Potts horse kicked up some bloody snow. A further search revealed Grayburn’s hat hanging on a bush and in a ravine and below it the body was found where it had been thrown. A little distance from there his horse had been led into the woods tied to a tree and shot dead.   

an attempt was made to track the murderers out on to the prairie, but a chinook wind had melted the snow, and the ground being frozen not a trace was left. Patrols searched every crossing, every hollow where snow might still be found but in vain. 

The cause of this outrage was for some time a mystery, no one would believe that the lad, for such he was, had given the slightest cause for revenge. He was kindness and itself and as he had picked up on the language and could talk sign, he was always talking conversing with them and learning as much as he could of their manners, customs, and mode of life.

A clue was at last obtained which eventually led to the arrest of the murderer, it was that, a few days previous, a young constable of bad temper and no experience who had taken over from an old hand the cooking for the camp, had on finding some Indians in the cabin, who had been allowed to sit there by his predecessor and smoke their pipes, made a sudden rush for them and pushed them outdoors. One of them on whom he had laid hands turned when he got outside, made the sign of stabbing him in the heart. The wild Indian is too much of a gentleman to permit any hostile laying on of hands and anyone who does it must answer for his temerity. ______ [Illegible word crossed out] any person will do as an object upon which to wreck his vengeance, and no doubt poor Grayburn gave the Indians the first opportunity which he took advantage.


“Steele Collection MS 2008.,” Bruce Peel Special Collections Library Online Exhibits, accessed September 25, 2021,