Last Trip: The Death of Alfred Bonenfant / 9: The Ottawa House
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Most Canadian horse cab bylaws set fares based on time, distance or geographical zones, but in trying to cover every possible exception or eventuality legislators tended to make regulations too complex for practical purposes. This excerpt is from a fare schedule that takes up more than a column in the 1898-99 Ottawa directory. In practice fares devolved into flat rates that were easier to understand and offered fewer grounds for dispute. McMillan and Bonenfant were clearly haggling over a flat rate, the two amounts probably reflecting day and night fares.


The Ottawa City Directory, 1898-99 [Microform]. (Ottawa, Might Directory Co. of Toronto, 1898), pp. 22-23. National Library of Canada copy via

Last Trip: The Death of Alfred Bonenfant / 9

The Ottawa House

It was about 10:10 p.m. when Alfred Bonenfant arrived at his destination. McMillan was drunk, though not excessively so by Aylmer Road** standards.

The resident housekeeper reported a brief argument over the fare, with McMillan offering fifty cents and Bonenfant holding out for a dollar. McMillan relented and Bonenfant prudently collected his fare in advance.

By 10:30 Bonenfant and his passenger entered Hull and were driving down Rue Principale (Main Street). As they approached the Ottawa House hotel at the corner of Rue du Pont (Bridge Street) McMillan insisted on stopping for a drink and also insisted that Bonenfant join him.

Bonenfant agreed and McMillan bought a round of white whiskey. Bonenfant then bought a round of beer. After that McMillan bought another two bottles of beer but Bonenfant did not want to drink any more.

McMillan pressed one of the open bottles on Bonenfant by shoving it into his coat pocket.

** All the streets mentioned here have since been renamed. Aylmer Road is now Boulevard Alexandre-Taché. Rue Principale is Promenade du Portage and Rue du Pont is Rue Eddy.

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