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Sandison Farm nabs attention of Scotland Yard

Our History: December 1890

The December 1890 issue of the Nor-West Farmer and Miller contained a glowing, two-page-plus report on the success of the Sandison Farm near Brandon, including renderings such as the threshing crew shown here. It had “within the last four years, expanded from a moderate beginning to a size hitherto unapproached in this province.” That year it had harvested 1,500 acres of wheat and 300 acres of oats, “the product of all of which was threshed before the second week of November and almost all of it direct from the shock.”

The writer said that outside critics “might naturally assume that a big piece of work like this must have been done in a rather slipshod way. The fact is I have hardly ever seen anywhere work as well done as this.”

He went on to praise Sandison’s cultivation and seeding practices, remarking that this land “I am sure, has great staying power and is worked with great economy and good judgment.”

However, according to information in the University of Manitoba archives, Sandison had a crop failure and went into debt after building an expensive stone house in 1892.

“To pay back this debt, he committed fraud by purchasing diamonds in Scotland on credit, then pawning them in Toronto and returning to Manitoba to pay his creditors with the money. Not long after, a Scotland Yard detective came searching for Sandison, but he had disappeared that morning. The detective traced him to Chicago, but his search ended there and Sandison was never caught.

“The farm was sold and Elizabeth Sandison returned to her family’s home in Ontario. Sandison’s location was unknown until around 1900 when he resurfaced in Ontario. There, he returned to Elizabeth and the couple and their children relocated to Stayner, Ontario. He passed away from a heart attack in 1915.”

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