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Canada’s Sherlock Holmes got his start in Trail

Updated: Jan 11, 2018

I just finished reading Eve Lazarus’ book Blood, Sweat, and Fear, about John F.C.B. Vance (1884-1964), a Vancouver forensic scientist who was known internationally as Canada’s Sherlock Holmes. On page 32, she writes:

Young John Vance worked for various mines since he was 17. He’d started as an assistant assayer and soon became the assistant chemist at the War Eagle cyanide extraction plant in Trail, where he developed a cone hood for a hot blast furnace, a breakthrough in metallurgy at the time.

I checked the civic directories from 1901 to 1905, but did not find a listing for Vance in Trail or Rossland. Vance went on to become chief assayer of the Van Anda mines and smelter on Texada Island and worked for mining companies in Oregon and Kamloops before becoming Vancouver city analyst in 1907, which led him to police work.


The book is not a standard biography, but a recounting of criminal cases where Vance’s forensic work played a key role. Interesting reading.




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