Last Trip: The Death of Alfred Bonenfant / 1: Introduction
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Cabs on a stand near the West Block of the Parliament Buildings, about 1880. Neither cabs nor setting looked much different when Alfred Bonenfant was driving in 1908.


Western Departmental Buildings -- Parliament Buildings, circa 1880 (Library and Archives Canada / C-010017)

Last Trip: The Death of Alfred Bonenfant

By Norman Beattie

Shortly after 10:30 p.m. on June 11, 1908 Ottawa cab driver Alfred Bonenfant was fatally injured on the main street of Hull, Québec when he tried to stop his runaway horse.

The accident initially looked like homicide and it took a police investigation to clear up the mystery. In the meantime Bonenfant became the focus of rumours and speculation that gripped the two cities for days.

A sad story that might otherwise have merited a newspaper paragraph or two became a sensation whose every detail was subjected to intense scrutiny.

As a result the tragic circumstances of Alfred Bonenfantís death have given us a rare window on the daily working life of a horse cab driver at the turn of the twentieth century.

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