Toronto Feature: George Brown | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Toronto Feature: George Brown

This article is from our Toronto Feature series. Features from past programs are not updated.

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Globe Office in Toronto
Globe Building, c 1853-1864 (courtesy Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Room/JRR 707).
Commerce Court, Toronto
Commerce Court, the location of the former Globe building, 2012 (photo by James Marsh).

Toronto Feature: George Brown

"George Brown Shot By Disgruntled Employee"

George Bennett did not take his dismissal from the Globe well. Fired for "intemperance," the engineer spent the afternoon of 25 March 1880, wandering the newspaper's King Street office in a drunken haze, armed with letters outlining his grievances and a pistol to exact revenge on those who had wronged him.

Around 4 pm, Bennett knocked on George Brown's door. Bennett presented a letter outlining his employment record at the paper and urged Brown to sign it. An impatient Brown tried to pass Bennett on to other management figures, which only raised Bennett's ire. Brown noticed Bennett pulling the pistol and thought "the little wretch might be meaning to shoot me." In the ensuing scuffle, Brown was shot in the thigh.

Believing the wound was minor, Brown made light of it and continued business from his home at Toronto's Beverley and Baldwin streets. Even after infection set in four days after the shooting, Brown attended the paper's shareholder meeting. His condition rapidly deteriorated, however, requiring constant drainage of fluid until Brown, the founder of the Globe and a Father of Confederation, died on 9 May 1880.

Bennett was tried and found guilty. He blamed the incident on liquor and Brown, saying that he had gone to see Brown for a simple matter and "could not control the event." He remained unrepentant ("the result was what it was"). Bennett was hanged at the Don Jail on 23 July 1880.