Link to Accessible Catalogue
 

April Fool's Murder?

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On the night of Friday April 1st, 1898...

When the London Public Library opened in 1895, it took over the function and collections of the London Mechanics' Institute which had been located at 229-231 Dundas Street. 

The former Institute's building became the Music Hall with the box office on the first floor and the the theatre auditorium on the second floor.  Later is was Bennett's Theatre and then the Majestic Theatre. 

On the night of Friday April 1st, 1898, the Wesley Stock Company under its manager, James Tuttle, was performing a play called The Candidate. 

 The male lead was played by an American actor, William D. Emerson. 

Just before curtain time, there was a confrontation on stage between Emerson and Tuttle over $35 in unpaid wages. 

Emerson pulled out a .32 calibre revolver and shot Tuttle in the face at point-blank range. In the ensuing confusion, the curtain was raised with the bleeding corpse of Tuttle lying centre-stage. 

A member of the crew stepped forward to the footlights and cried out, "Is there a doctor in the house?" 

The audience of 300 people laughed, thinking this was part of an April Fool's joke. 

But it was no joke - Tuttle was dead.  Emerson was charged with first-degree murder but a grand jury found him not guilty.   

 

Majestic theatre

"Palaces of  the Night:  Canada's Grand Theatres", John Lindsay.  1999, p. 172.