The inquest on the
deaths of Geo. Wisson, his sister, Minnie Wisson Wark, and her
child, who lost their lives on 4 Apr 1919 by the burning of
Wisson's house, was held in two sessions on Thursday and
Saturday evenings last.
Dr. McGilvery presided
and H. P. Innes, K.C., represented the crown. Many witnesses
were examined to piece out the sordid story of the tragedy in
its unpleasant details. But nothing came to light to justify
the widespread hints of foul play.
Partly consumed kegs of
"hard' cider were found in the remains of the house.
There was evidence that there had been a carousal. It was a
fair inference that, in a more or less stupid condition, the
adult victims had retired to beds on or near which they
perished, when the fire, from causes unknown enveloped the
The jury returned the
That George Wisson
came to his death by suffocation on Friday, 4 Apr 1919, in the
dormitory of his residence, at the intersection of
Agricultural and Metcalfe Streets, in the town of Simcoe,
Norfolk County, Ontario, and by the following method:
Fire from the stove
in the dwelling escaping, set the building on fire, and the
said George Wisson was unable to escape, not through having no
means of exit, but through his being intoxicated through
over-indulgence in hard cider, and doubtless in a heavy stupor
of sleep till he was overcome by smoke.
We exonerate the
fire brigade from any criticism, believing that they responded
promptly to the call and arrived at the place too late to
hazard an entrance into the room, and doubtless after life was
We do not find any
evidence of foul play preceding the fire.
We would recommend
that the crown pursue further an investigation with a view to
placing the responsibility for the supplying of the hard
cider, to the over-indulgence in which is to be attributed the
Only one incident in
connection with the enquiry could be stretched into a
semblance of the unexpected.
On Saturday evening a
juryman announced to the coroner and the remainder of the jury
that he had been visited by Thomas Coates, who keeps a grocery
on Cedar Street.
Coates had asked him
what the jury thought of his (Coates') connection with the
cider. Elliott, the juryman, answered that he had not heard
anything about it at all. Whereupon Coates said: "Here,
see I get fair play," or words to that effect, shoved a
$5 bill into Elliott's hands, and then vanished.