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Legendary train robber and prison escapee Bill Miner

Nicknamed “The Grey Fox” and “The Gentleman Bandit,” Bill Miner was a legendary criminal on both sides of the Canada-US border. According to legend, Miner was the first bandit in history to use the phrase “Hands up!” Despite committing dozens of robberies and escaping from numerous jails and prisons, many saw him as a generous folk hero who targeted only exploitative corporations.

In 1904 and 1906, Miner robbed Canadian Pacific Railway trains in British Columbia. In the spring of 1906, he was captured, tried, convicted, and given a life sentence at the British Columbia Penitentiary, a federal maximum-security prison in New Westminster. The prison walls would not hold him for long, though, and on August 8, 1907, Miner escaped from the BC prison.

The records in this Co-Lab Challenge include three BC Penitentiary files relating to Bill Miner, and provide fascinating insights into his escape from the prison. The files contain intake forms and mug shots of Miner, reports by prison officials, newspaper clippings, and letters from individuals claiming to have spotted The Grey Fox, even many years after his death.