History Slam Episode Twenty: The Nantuck Brothers and Justice

By Sean Graham

In August 1899, Dawson and Jim Nantack were executed in Dawson City, Yukon for the murder of two prospectors. On November 4, 2010, their remains were uncovered by a backhoe operator during construction of a sewage treatment plant. The discovery led to a renewed interest in the story of four men (two died of tuberculosis before they could be executed) who were convicted of murder in the midst of the Klondike Gold Rush. While the details are unclear, one possibility is that the four brothers killed the prospector to avenge the death of two members of the community after a can of arsenic, in the form of white powder, was mistaken for flour.

In this episode of the History Slam, we examine the story of the Nantucks Brothers. First, I talk with Leonard Linklater, the playwright of Justice, a theatrical production part of Northern Scene that examines the story of the brothers. I then chat with Greg Hare, the Chief Archaeologist for Yukon, who led the dig following the discovery of the remains. Finally, I ask osteologist Susan Moorhead Mooney about the process of identifying those remains.

Justice is running May 2-4 at the Arts Court Theatre in Ottawa as part of Northern Scene.

Sean Graham is a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa where he is currently working on a project that examines the early years of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has previously studied at Nipissing University, the University of the West Indies, and the University of Regina and like any red-blooded Canadian his ultimate dream is to be a curling champion while living on a diet of beer and poutine.

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