Murder and Mayhem on Washburn Island

The following excerpt about a murder on Washburn Island from a History of Kleinburg site:

John Stegmann’s death was tragic, unexpected and bizarre, precipitated by a strange series of events which began in 1803 when a white trader named John Sharpe killed a Mississauga Indian named Whistling Duck on Washburn Island, Lake Scugog, about 25 miles north of Oshawa. A year passed and the white man was not brought to justice. This so enraged Whistling Duck’s brother that he shot Sharpe dead. Then, when the Indian band was camped on Toronto Island, the murderer, under the influence of liquor, boasted about his crime, and was apprehended and charged. The court-appointed lawyer, however, argued that the trial could not be held in York since the crime took place in Newcastle district. Stegmann was brought in to survey the exact location of Washburn Island and a change of venue to Presque Isle was ordered. And so, on Sunday, October 7, 1804, a distinguished company boarded the government schooner, Speedy, for Presque Isle. The passenger list included the judge, the Solicitor General of Ontario, the accused’s lawyer (also a member of the legislature), a law student, an Indian interpreter, the prisoner himself and Stegmann. The following day the schooner was within hailing distance of its destination when a gale sprang up and drove the ship out of the harbour. In the terrible storm that followed the vessel sank with all hands. And John Stegmann at the age of 50 and at the height of his career, was dead.

Readers comments and stories are welcome.

Or, contact by email: marye@bell.net

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