The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 2 no 1, July 2014. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
In October 2012, the Cantley Echo published an article about a sketchbook of the Haycock Iron Mine produced in 1872 by the artist, A. M. Edmonds.
At the time, very little was known about Edmonds, even his first name. In 1989, Library and Archives Canada, owner of the sketchbook, had produced a short dossier about him. In 1863, he had won an award for drawings of Ottawa Valley lumbering. He is listed as a teacher in Burnstown, Ontario. Yet he is not found in any Canadian census. This level of mystery seems appropriate for an artist.
A search of the Archive's database produced several attractive maps of Canadian railroads signed by Edmonds. This led to listings in the Ottawa City Directories from 1880 to 1890 of an Alfred M. Edmonds, giving us his first name. He was a cartographer for the CPR and the Department of Railroads and Canals, and lived alone in a string of downtown boarding houses. The Governor General, Lord Dufferin, even commissioned his works. In 1884, he was an assistant to Sir Sandford Fleming, head of the Canadian Intercontinental Railway.
Then, bingo! Ancestry.ca gave us his death certificate. He was born in Bishopstone, Berkshire, England, died in 1893 in the Ottawa Protestant Hospital at the age of 72 and was buried in Beechwood Cemetery. As it turns out, there are five Bishopstones in England, all of them with an A. Edmonds born in 1821, none of them in Berkshire. One is 25 km away in Buckinghamshire though.
On the death certificate there is a handwritten note saying "Jail." According to the Ottawa Journal, Edmonds, "a pale, delicate-looking man," was arrested on February 27, 1893 for insanity. He died in jail on November 23, 1893. An inquest concluded that he died of natural causes, but never hould have been detained in a jail.