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  • Writer's pictureSheila Willis

Passionate About History - And Getting It Right

In 1920 the manhunt following a train robbery in the Crowsnest Pass, left 2 police officers, a special constable and one of the robbers dead. A second robber was caught and then hanged for killing one of the policemen.


That’s the summary of the story in my April 2024 edition of Sheila’s Shenanigans magazine. To create the ‘Train Robbery’ story, I transcribed about 70 pages of documents and newspaper articles. Like today, the newspaper articles are often sensationalized. One has to filter through them looking for the grains of truth. 

It took over 75 hours to research and write about the train robbery and manhunt. In this instance there were enough twists, turns and false information to make a worm dizzy. To confirm the validity, or likelihood of correct information, one has to cross reference and compare the data available. 

In a story like the train robbery, the articles are pretty specific to the subject. In other cases, where a piece of information is not ‘headline news’ it may be scattered throughout multiple sources. It takes years of research to know the subject and spot the red herrings. 

For instance - In my March edition of the magazine I wrote about Treaty 8 providing thoughts for Canadians as we approach the 125th anniversary of the signing. A result of the signing of the treaty was the creation of reserves. 

In one, often referred to, online source it says that the Sucker Creek reserve was formed in 1910. I included a surveyors map in the March magazine of the reserve that was dated 1901. In addition, Moostoos was referred to as chief in the 1905 newspaper articles of the King Murder (see the November issue), as well as in other sources.

I think 1901, not 1910, is the correct date based on the numerous references that I have read over the years. I believe that someone typing the online article that dates the formation of the reserve as 1910 simply transposed the numbers 01 and 10. From then on it is a red herring that might only be spotted by someone who has done a lot of research. 

I charge for the monthly online magazine; $5 an issue or $50 for a year. Why? Because I love writing these stories - I find learning more about the history of Alberta fascinating, but to get it right - or as close to right as possible, takes a lot of research and effort. 

I know of other historians that put out a lot of content regarding Alberta’s history. Blair Jean and Glen Bowe are two examples. While I write a magazine, and books to support my passion of sharing Alberta’s history, they also have their ways of financing their passion. 

If you enjoy the content that any of us, or other historians provide, I encourage you to show your support in our efforts, whether it be by following on social media, or blogs, or financially. 

If you would like to learn more about the magazine, purchase an edition, or an annual subscription click here 

To sign up for future blog posts that include Alberta’s history, inspiration, and humour please fill out this form. 

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Follow Up on ”The Cree Language as Referenced by Charles Mair.” In the first issue of my Sheila's Shenanigans magazine (August 2023) one of the articles I included was ”The Cree Language as Referenced


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