Pinkerton's and the Hunt for Simon Gunanoot throws new light on the extensive manhunt for an accused murderer in northern British Columbia in the early 1900s. After a double murder in 1906, Gitxsan trapper and storekeeper Simon Gunanoot fled into the wilderness with his family. Despite lack of proof, the police pursued Gunanoot for nearly three years, sending search parties and police operatives into the wilds of northern BC. The hunt was covered by numerous newspapers at the time, describing a melodramatic cat-and-mouse chase--a not-entirely-accurate account. Frustrated by Gunanoot's ability to evade capture, the Attorney General of BC asked Pinkerton's National Detective Agency in Seattle to assist in the pursuit.
In May 1909, two Pinkerton's operatives disguised as prospectors were sent to Hazelton, BC, to find and apprehend Gunanoot. From 1909-1910, they delivered regular reports to Pinkerton's office in Seattle detailing their progress. Many of these confidential reports, written around campfires on the treks in the wilderness, provided a vivid picture of life in the frontier town, relations of the settlers and prospectors, and of the conflicting loyalties and tensions in both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
One of the most famous fugitives in BC history, Gunanoot's story has taken on the status of legend. Pinkerton's and the Hunt for Simon Gunanoot is a fascinating tale of turn-of-the-century crime-solving techniques, rural politics and backwoods survival, based on never-before published, firsthand accounts of the two undercover operatives.
Geoff Mynett was born in England where he qualified as a Barrister. After emigrating to British Columbia in 1973, he became a Canadian citizen, requalified as a lawyer and practiced law until his retirement. His first book, Service on the Skeena: Horace Wrinch, Frontier Physician (Ronsdale Press, 2019), received a Jeanne Clarke Memorial Award. His second book, Pinkerton's and the Hunt for Simon Gunanoot, was published by Caitlin Press in 2021. Geoff and his wife Alice live in Vancouver and have two sons.
"Curious that there's a road named after Simon Gunanoot in Williams Lake, some 500 km away by air (or 700 km by road or packtrail) from the homeland of this legendary Gitxsan trapper, backwoodsman and outlaw in Hazelton/Kispiox country. It attests to the widespread fame and fascination of the man who evaded authority for thirteen years after a suspicious double murder in 1906.
Author Geoff Mynett offers an intriguing perspective into one of British Columbia's most celebrated fugitives, told through the analytic eye and legal mind of a retired lawyer. Mynett's play-by-play account of Pinkerton operatives hard on the trail of their 'man' across the rugged Northern British Columbia landscape takes you to the heart of the drama. The author's legal analysis of Gunanoot's 1919 court case into the murders is particularly revealing. Mynett's meticulous research and supporting documents that include correspondence, articles and transcripts, offer a unique authenticity to the Gunanoot story never before told. "
--Sage Birchwater, author of Chilcotin Chronicles
"Simon Peter Gunanoot is the iconic Gitxsan outlaw who stands astride a 'Wild West' in British Columbia that was wilder than any American pulp writer imagined. It's a story of colliding cultures, colonial authority, Indigenous resistance and of conflicting concepts of rights, justice and governance that still reverberate through current events. Sifting through secret police reports dispatched during a thirteen-year manhunt, Geoff Mynett sheds a shrewd and discerning light on the social history they inadvertently reveal. As compelling as the best police procedural, his meticulously researched book is an extraordinary and important contribution to BC history. "
--Stephen Hume, long-time Vancouver Sun columnist and award-winning author
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