Arthur Badger, an independent owner-operator, was attacked and brutally bludgeoned by two assailants at about five o'clock on the morning of Friday, September 28, 1945. The perpetrators dumped Badger into a ditch and drove off in his taxi.
The attack occurred in the 3000 block of Portage Avenue in the municipality of Kirkfield Park, just outside the city of St. James, which itself was then a suburb on the west side of Winnipeg.
The commotion aroused a local resident who heard a car speeding west on Portage Avenue when he went outside to investigate. He followed the sound of Badger's moans and discovered the injured man in the ditch.
The attackers may have been frightened off; Badger's wallet, containing $100, was still on him. The St. James police took the victim to the Wnnipeg General Hospital and notified the R.C.M.P., who had jurisdiction over Kirkfield Park.
Badger was barely conscious when he was found and was unable to describe his attackers. He had suffered at least a dozen severe lacerations to his head, and one cheek was pierced. His cap, found about fifty yards from his body, bore the impress of a tire iron. Badger's right hand was broken, suggesting that he had put up a fight.
The mounties quickly turned up a strong lead. Around 6:30 a.m., an R.C.M.P. patrol discovered Badger's Packard, its engine still warm, about 70 miles west of Winnipeg near Portage La Prairie. The criminals had been forced to abandon the car when the connecting rods burned out.
Tracking dogs followed their trail for three miles along the C.P.R. tracks before losing the scent in a railway construction site. The interior of the cab, the running board and even its roof were spattered with blood. The car was towed back to Winnipeg for examination.
Meanwhile, Badger clung to life in the General hospital, his head so badly injured that doctors could not risk taking x-rays. His blood pressure increased slightly, providing a slim hope of recovery; but he died on October 1 without regaining consciousness.
The mounties canvassed all the cafes, stores and hotels in Portage La Prairie as well as neighbouring military camps. A few suspicious characters were interrogated as far west as Saskatchewan, but the investigation finally came to a dead end. The case has remained unsolved.
Badger, who was 60 years old, was born in Vaughan township, Ontario, and came to Winnipeg about 1900. He owned one cab, and had been a taxi driver for 28 years. At the time of his death he lived in the Winnipeg suburb of St. Vital. He and his wife had no children. The funeral was held on October 4 and he was buried in St. Vital cemetery.
The death of Arthur Badger seems to have caught the Winnipeg taxi community by surprise. There was very little public reaction, and even the Winnipeg Taxicab Owners Association was rather half-hearted in posting a $450 reward for information leading to the conviction of the attackers. The reward would have been only $250 if George Moore (Moore's Taxi) hadn't kicked in $200 on his own.
The public response was much different when the very similar murder of Johann (Jo) Johnson occurred six months later.
Picture source: Winnipeg Tribune, September 28, 1945, p. 1.
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Revised February 13, 1998