George Brown Shot By Disgruntled Employee

1880

King St. W. and Bay St.

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George Bennett did not take his dismissal from the Globe well. Fired for “intemperance,” the engineer spent the afternoon of March 25, 1880, wandering the newspaper’s King Street office in a drunken haze, armed with letters outlining his grievances and a pistol to exact revenge on those who had wronged him.

George Brown died from a bullet wound inflicted by a disgruntled employee (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-26415).

Around 4 p.m. Bennett knocked on George Brown’s door. Bennett presented a letter outlining his employment record at the paper and urged Brown to sign it. An impatient Brown tried to pass Bennett on to other management figures, which only raised Bennett’s ire. Brown noticed Bennett pulling the pistol and thought “the little wretch might be meaning to shoot me.” In the ensuing scuffle, Brown was shot in the thigh.

Believing the wound was minor, Brown made light of it and continued business from his home at Beverley and Baldwin streets. Even after infection set in four days after the shooting, Brown attended the paper’s shareholder meeting. His condition rapidly deteriorated, however, requiring constant drainage of fluid until Brown, the founder of the Globe and a Father of Confederation, died on May 9, 1880.

Bennett was tried and found guilty. He blamed the incident on liquor and Brown, saying that he had gone to see Brown for a simple matter and “could not control the event.” He remained unrepentant (“the result was what it was”). Bennett was hanged at the Don Jail on July 23, 1880.

By Jamie Bradburn

Visit The Canadian Encyclopedia for more on George Brown.

Globe Building, c 1853-1864 (courtesy Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Room/JRR 707). View the image gallery