Last Trip: The Death of Alfred Bonenfant / 11: Bonenfant and McMillan
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Above: This may be the only existing photo of Ottawa horse cab drivers. In 1877 these gentlemen garnered a bit of favourable publicity for themselves and their trade by presenting a gold-headed cane to Canada's Governor General, Lord Dufferin, and a silver card case to Lady Dufferin. Below: The event as recorded by Lady Dufferin in her diary. She says there were 14 cab drivers present but only nine showed up for the commemorative photo at the Topley studio.


Top: Page from the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava album, showing a group of Ottawa cab drivers who presented a gold headed cane to Lord Dufferin and a silver card case to Lady Dufferin, 1877. The Topley Studio / Library and Archives Canada / e0083113405. Bottom: Harriot Georgina Blackwood, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, My Canadian Journal, 1872-8: Extracts from my letters home written while Lord Dufferin was Governor-General (London, J. Murray, 1891), pp. 306-307. University of Toronto Robarts Library copy via

Last Trip: The Death of Alfred Bonenfant / 11

Bonenfant and McMillan

The restless horse was only one of Alfred Bonenfant's concerns. His chances of another trip depended on his getting back to the Central Post Office stand and McMillan was wasting time.

Why didn't Bonenfant simply desert McMillan and return to Ottawa? He had already collected his fare from McMillan and McMillan would certainly be too drunk or too confused to lodge a complaint if Bonenfant simply abandoned him at the Ottawa House.

Robbery was an unlikely motive. If Bonenfant intended to get McMillan drunk enough to rob him in some out-of-the-way place he didn't go about it very efficiently. It was McMillan who insisted on entering the bar and Bonenfant seems to have been a reluctant participant. Bonenfant's reputation for honesty also argues against this motive.

Bonenfant may have had another reason for cultivating his passenger. McMillan obviously had money and Bonenfant may have seen him as a worthwhile contact who could steer him to a more lucrative job than cab driving.

As he left home to begin his shift that morning Bonenfant remarked "that he felt that something was wrong, that he would have to get other employment to satisfy a restless feeling that possessed him."**

A simpler explanation may be that Bonenfant had taken a liking to McMillan and felt an obligation to get him home safely.

Whatever the case McMillan was now deeply involved in conversation with the bartender and with other customers so Bonenfant beckoned to him in vain.

** Ottawa Journal, Friday, June 12, 1908, p. 9.

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