The first colonial settlers of Coast Salish territory around Burrard Inlet were the Royal Engineers who came on a series of ships from late 1858 to spring 1859. The largest group arrived April 12, 1859 on the “Thames City”.
As the Thames City sailed past Brazil on their way to BC, a child was born onboard to John and Mary Linn by the name of Hugh Linn. He was born on November 24, 1858.
The Royal Engineers were commissioned to establish civic administration for mainland BC at New Westminster and to build roads and infrastructure for the nascent colony.
The Royal Engineers were disbanded in 1863 and were offered Military Grants of land if they would stay and establish a home here. John Linn did just that and obtained 150 acres at the mouth of what would become known as Lynn Creek on the North Shore. John and Mary Linn had five more children, one more boy and four girls.
John Linn died on April 18, 1876 so Mary had to continue raising the family without him.
Hugh Linn was 17 when his father died and afterwards had a troublesome youth. Jumping ahead to 1893, Hugh was now using Lynn as the spelling of his last name. In October, 1893, the gruesome murders of a storekeeper, John Green, and of his friend, Tom Taylor, took place on Savary Island. The newly formed marine branch of the BC Provincial Police were called in to investigate.
Locals believed a group of passing natives were responsible for the murders but the officer assigned to the case, Provincial Constable Walter Anderson, chose to follow a different lead.
He found out a man with the last name “Lynn” bought seven bottles of whiskey from a pub in Lund and said to put it on Green’s account (the murdered storekeeper).
Lynn had been travelling with a native woman and child. The officer travelled by boat south down the coast following Lynn’s trail and eventually caught up to him at a small ranch on Shaw Island in American territory. According to the police, the native woman, Jenny Que-Ah-Boketo, and her child were being held against their will. They were happy to be freed and told the whole story of the murder.
Hugh Lynn was arrested but came up with an alternate story that Green killed Taylor and Lynn shot Green in self-defense. While in jail, police planted an informer with him in his cell. Lynn admitted what he did but was confident he would get off because he believed no one would believe a native woman over him. He was wrong.
In a newspaper account, Crown Counsel summed up the case by saying that Lynn “had accepted the hospitality of the deceased Green; then he murdered him; then he plundered him; and now… comes into court and slanders the memory of his victim by accusing him of the murder of the man Taylor”. Hugh Lynn had a fine lawyer, E.P. Davis, the founder of one of Vancouver’s oldest law firms, Davis & Co., but was still convicted and sentenced to hang on August 24, 1894.
The night before his execution Hugh Lynn was reported to have said “God, help me, I deserve what I am to get.” Lynn then made a last request which was based on a deeply held wish to not die with his boots on.
Once he was up to the gallows in New Westminster, the hangman and Governor Moresby himself carefully took Lynn’s boots off before carrying out the execution.
Paul Hundal is a local historian and a resident of West Vancouver