‘Brings a bit of closure’: Last man executed in Halifax to receive proper burial
The last man ever to be executed in Halifax will soon receive a headstone thanks to a national organization dedicated to making sure all Canadian war veterans receive a proper burial and final resting place.
Two weeks ago CTV News brought you the story of Daniel Perry Sampson, an unemployed black labourer who was put to death after being found guilty of murdering two white boys in 1933. After two trials and appeals all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, Sampson was hanged behind the courthouse in March of 1935.
An appeal for mercy from the father of the boys was ignored, as was Sampson's military service in the First World War. The family has always said he returned far different than the man who enlisted.
Retired Rear Admiral Barry Keeler, the national president of the Last Post Fund, saw CTV News’s story and recognized Sampson would qualify for a grave marker paid in full by the organization.
"I immediately contacted a member of the Sampson family and they were overjoyed with gratitude that the Last Post would be prepared to install a marker in honour of Private Sampson," Keeler says.
Finishing touches on the marker are underway in Lunenburg, N.S., but it will be installed in the general area of Sampson's final resting place Thursday.
While acknowledging the pain and heartache associated with the case, Keeler says the fact Sampson was later convicted of two murders is incidental.
"We don't have any difficulty with that because what happened post his military career really is none of our business," he says.
The gesture has prompted a deep sense of gratitude for Sampson’s family, who broke 80 years of silence to fill in the gaps.
"It brings a bit of closure to the Sampson family, I think, having him recognized as a veteran and properly sent off,” says Daniel Sampson’s great-grandaughter Paula Crawley.
Keeler says the headstone will be placed in what’s known as the Division One Common Area at Camp Hill Cemetery.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.