Close up of the inscription on murdered Nurse Mildred Neilson’s monument that has been standing in a Burnaby cemetery for 95 years. She was shot to death in Trail on Feb. 6, 1925. Trail citizens were so upset they raised over $1,200 (around $18,000 in today’s world) to send to her parents for burial and this granite monument. Photo: Trail Historical Society

Close up of the inscription on murdered Nurse Mildred Neilson’s monument that has been standing in a Burnaby cemetery for 95 years. She was shot to death in Trail on Feb. 6, 1925. Trail citizens were so upset they raised over $1,200 (around $18,000 in today’s world) to send to her parents for burial and this granite monument. Photo: Trail Historical Society

Trail Blazers: The story of unrequited love and murder, 95 years later

Check out the Trail Times every Thursday for another historical story featured in Trail Blazers

This week’s Trail Blazers is a little more intriguing than usual.

It began with an email from a person living in Vancouver. He’d been walking through a cemetery and snapped a few photos that he thought would interest our readers.

“I was visiting a cemetery in Burnaby and noticed there was a monument erected by the ‘Citizens of Trail, BC’ for a nurse named Mildred Neilson (1898-1925),” Evan explained, requesting the Trail Times to only use his first name.

“It was an interesting discovery given that Trail is considerably far from Burnaby and I thought it would make an interesting story for you. I have no idea who she is, but it seems she died relatively young and would have lived through the First World War and Spanish Flu period,” Evan said.

“It would be a great shame for her to be forgotten if she meant a lot to Trail, even if it was nearly 100 years ago.”

Mildred Neilson’s monument today. Photo: Submitted by Evan

Mildred Neilson’s monument today. Photo: Submitted by Evan

The Ocean View Burial Park in Burnaby holds the remains of many people who lived and died in the 19th century.

“And I often wonder who they were and what their lives were like,” Evan shared. “Maybe there is a part of me that wonders whether any of us will be remembered or thought worthy enough for someone to build a monument to honour us.”

So the Times did an internet search and began to unveil what at the heart of it, is a story as old as time – one of unrequited love and murder.

As with any story of such magnitude there is much to tell. For this feature, however, the narrative will focus on the how and why a large granite monument from the city, dedicated to Mildred Neilson, stands in the Ocean View cemetery.

Mildred Neilson was a young nurse, a 27-year-old graduate of Vancouver General Hospital, who was working in the Trail Tadanac Hospital.

She was shot through her heart and killed on Feb. 6, 1925 by Patrick Hanley.

The Nelson businessman had come to see her in the nurses’ residence on Aldridge Street while she was off-duty.

Hanley had a crush on Mildred, but she didn’t reciprocate, having turned him down more than once, according to a Trail Daily Times article written right after the murder.

As the story goes, the killer was known to Neilson’s family, who resided in Vancouver. On that fateful day, Hanley claimed he had been asked to deliver a tin of cookies to the young nurse by her mother in Vancouver.

Mildred Neilson’s parents at her burial site, 1925. Photos: Trail Historical Society

Mildred Neilson’s parents at her burial site, 1925. Photos: Trail Historical Society

There were no eye witnesses, so no one will ever really know what transpired between the two of them that Friday morning before Hanley shot the nurse, then himself.

It didn’t end up being a murder-suicide, however.

Hanley later presented himself at the hospital with a bullet wound. He recovered, was subsequently tried, found guilty and sentenced to death.

The town was shocked by this cold-hearted act and such a sudden and brutal demise of a caring young nurse.

So the community rallied alongside smelter employees, and collectively raised over $1,200 (around $18,000 today) that they sent to her parents for burial and a dedicated memorial in Ocean View cemetery.

The inscription reads:

Erected by the citizens of Trail, BC to the memory of Nurse Mildred Neilson 1890-1925

So greatly loved.

– With files from BCNursingHistory.ca and the Trail Museum and Archives

Find more Trail Blazers here: Fires raged in the summer of 1927 Remembering the Silver City Serenaders of Song Setting the Record Straight

(Trail Times stories from 1925 reveal that Hanley, district manager of the Monarch Life Insurance Co., was gassed while serving in the First World War and he is said to have suffered from mental illness. Trail Blazers will re-visit his trial and the outcome in a later edition.)

Mildred Neilson’s monument several years ago.	Photo: Trail Historical Society

Mildred Neilson’s monument several years ago. Photo: Trail Historical Society



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of TrailLocal History

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Trail Times archives

Trail Times archives

Trail Times archives

Trail Times archives

Just Posted

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

Scamsters target Montrose resident. File photo
Fraudsters strike again in Montrose

A Montrose resident was taken for thousands in a COVID-related scam

(Black Press file photo)
Trail RCMP fine event organizer for flouting PHO order

Twenty-nine people attended an event at a place of worship in Trail

Violin Lake last fall. Photo: City of Trail
City of Trail applies for grant to decomission dams

Adaptation, Resilience and Disaster Mitigation grant to restore Cambridge Creek and Violin Lk system

South Columbia Search and Rescue called in the Nelson Search and Rescue and Kootenay Valley Helicopters to provide a long line rescue. Photo: BCSAR submitted.
Long-line rescue needed for injured hiker near Trail

Members of South Columbia and Nelson SAR and Kootenay Valley Helicopters did a long-line evacuation

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kamloops hospital grows to 66 cases

A majority of cases remain among staff at Royal Inland Hospital

Most Read