The great tarpaulin theft, as it has come to be known here, takes its place on the records of local crime as a classic. It will be recalled that Almonte borrowed a big piece of canvas from Carleton Place to cover a newly laid sidewalk around the Bay. Men were working on the job all night, lanterns twinkled here and there and a watchman was supposed to keep an eagle eye on equipment. But despite all these commendable safeguards the tarpaulin disappeared about ten o’clock that night. Those in charge of the work, and the local police authorities were astonished !
No, the explanation was too fantastic because the police didn’t believe in ghosts. It appeared from the evidence of two ladies homeward bound on the night of the theft that, as they walked along the street that skirts the Bay, they were discussing how ghostly the white tarpaulin looked in the dim light of the lanterns. Then a horrible sensation—the great sheet began to move. Slowly, but surely it crept under the railing that runs along the edge of the sidewalk and prevents pedestrians from falling into the Spring Bush ravine.
The two ladies’ who saw this phenomenon stood rooted to the spot. They gazed at the tarpaulin in horror as the tail of it disappeared under the rail. They had an instinctive feeling that invisible hands were propelling the sheet of canvas into the obscurity of the deeply wooded gully. As it faded into the darkness the two witnesses rushed to where men were, working on the sidewalk and raised the alarm.
The men did not believe in ghosts either so they told the police.That night the chief, aided by a number of volunteers armed with lanterns, searched diligently in the Spring Bush for signs of the departed tarpaulin. But though they scratched their faces and barked their shins not a clue did they find for several days. Then the “law” got on the track of the evil doers. The tarpaulin turned up in the fire hall one night as mysteriously and unexpectedly as it had disappeared. A young man made a confession implicating another chap who had “done time”. When the police went after “the other chap” he had decamped to the woods where he led a sort of Robin Hood existence for the rest of the summer.
The most serious count standing against the fugitive is that on one of his surreptitious visits to town, under cover of night it is presumed, and he was refused admittance to a certain house. On being barred by the owner he is alleged to have thrown him down, drawn a knife and threatened to cut his throat.
After this he turned up in Windsor having followed a girl there whose family moved to the Western Ontario city. His attentions were represented and the girl’s mother informed the police whereupon the man was taken into custody. Almonte authorities were notified but whether the crown attorney cares to take action is doubtful as it would cost a considerable sum to bring him back and it is argued, so long as there is a warrant out for him locally he will give the town a wide berth.