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I am not a bank robber

Updated: Jul 25, 2018

The postcard below of an old bridge across the Cascade canyon at Christina Lake sold online today. It’s a nice enough image, but it’s the message on the back that’s jaw dropping. It’s the first postcard I’ve seen used to deny involvement in a crime.

The card was mailed on June 29, 1929 from Greenwood to Mr. W. Best, secretary of the Elks Club in Victoria.

Here is the message flipped on its side:

Earlier that month, Arthur Thomas, 19, held up the Grandview branch of the Royal Bank of Canada on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. It happened as the manager and four employees were arriving to begin work. Each was accosted as he entered and tied up. Thomas forced the manager and cashier to open a vault from which he took $4,000, then left by a back entrance. The employees were left in a cubicle, but they soon broke down its door. Thomas was captured five hours later in New Westminster and all the stolen money was recovered. He pleaded guilty in police court and a week later was sentenced to five years in prison and ten lashes.

Arthur Francis Thomas was proprietor of the Thomas Drug Co. in Greenwood, established in 1904. He sold his store to J.L. White in 1910 and moved his business to Victoria, although he evidently returned to Greenwood once in a while.

The latter Thomas would have been in his 50s in 1929. Given the age difference, there should have been no reason for him to be confused with the young bank robber, unless someone was trying to make trouble for him.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact police were trying to locate the robber’s relatives. The younger Thomas — who was apparently using a psudonym — was said to have come from Manitoba and to have lived in Edmonton for a time. But when asked about his parents, he replied: “I’ll take the rap and say nothing.”

“I did it for a thrill,” he told detectives.

Why was P. Raymond’s attention especially important? In 1930, Percy A. Raymond was listed in the Victoria civic directory as secretary of the Elks Club, and presumably controlled the membership rolls.

With thanks to Diane Rogers

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