Murders on the Skeena

True Crime in the Old Canadian West, 1884-1914

By Geoff Mynett

Categories: BC History
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781773860671, 256 pages, October 2021

Part history, part true crime, Murders on the Skeena sheds new light on a dozen murders, and murder attempts, in small town BC.


Part history, part true crime, Murders on the Skeena: True Crime in the Old Canadian West, 1884-1914 contains the true accounts of murders, crimes, and scandals--some of which remain unsolved to this day--in small-town northern British Columbia. With a focus on the victims as much as the cases themselves, award-winning author Geoff Mynett relates untold stories of BC's deadly history while providing both the natural and social history of the region.

Hazelton, situated where the Bulkley River joins the Skeena River, was one of the most important sites in the interior of northern BC from 1870-1913. The gold rush, the arrival of the telegraph, and the ability for steam boats to journey upriver increased outside interest in the region. As new modes of transport were built, more non-Indigenous people arrived, and as colonial law and governance increased, so did tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. One such case was that of the murder of Amos "Charley" Youmans in 1884--the escalation of a clash between the laws and customs of the Gitxsan and those of the encroaching traders and settlers. Mynett also recounts the stories of the so-called Skeena River Uprising of 1888, a bank robbery shoot-out, and a deadly dispute between two prospectors.

Peeling back historical, social, political, and geographical layers, Murders on the Skeena draws almost exclusively from documents from the time to reveal the fascinating secrets and surprising consequences of these captivating true crime tales.


  • Runner-up, Jeanne Clarke Service Award 2022


“I enjoyed this read. Well-researched stories based on the written record of the colonial settlers. The recurring theme of resolving Gitxsan and Western laws on the land base continues to this day. Especially relevant material in these times of moving to action in reconciling First Nations and Western worldviews.”

—Doug Donaldson, Former BC Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and Member of BC Legislative Assembly 2009-2020

“Mynett’s latest book features a series of fascinating and often sensational events in small town Hazelton, BC, during the time of the early Hudson Bay Company settlement into the traditional territory of the Gitxsan First Nations. Through impeccable archival research, Mynett entertains the reader with stories of historic events and precedent-setting legal, political and cultural conflict taking place in one small region of Northern British Columbia.”
—Jane Stevenson, author of A Trail of Two Telegraphs and The Railroader’s Wife