(Posted 11 a.m., Sept. 20)
of the Evening production retells Navan's day of infamy
By Fred Sherwin
Dent, played by Sam LeClair, gets the news
that her husband Cst. Harold Dent, has been
shot and killed in Navan. Fred Sherwin/Photo
don't come here. There are no secrets here. There is no
war here. Why here?" It's a question the entire town
of Navan was asking itself in June 1940 when a petty thief,
thought to be a spy, shot and killed a local OPP constable.
in Navan" is based on the actual events surrounding
the murder of CST Harold Dent on the morning of June 20,
1942. Dent was checking out a tip about a suspicious person
who was traveling through Cumberland. He found the man
in the Navan railway station.
he asked the man to produce some identification, he pulled
out a gun and shot Dent twice. He tried to escape on foot,
but he was tracked down in a nearby wood lot and was shot
and killed by Sgt. Al Stringer.
man turned out to be John Miki, a vagrant and petty thief
who had just robbed a country club on the Quebec side
the night before and had taken a ferry to Cumberland that
he arrived in Cumberland he asked Norm Edwards for directions
to the train station. After meeting a the stranger with
a foreign accent carrying a ruck sack, Edwards called
the OPP detachment in Rockland and informed Dent about
the suspicious character.
the time Dent caught up to Miki, the thief was waiting
for the next train to arrive.
of the shooting spread like wildfire over the local phone
line, which in those days was equivalent to Facebook.
Stringer was married to one of the sisters who operated
the local phone exchange. They were visiting Navan when
the shooting took place.
immediately ran over to the train station where he Dent
lying in a pool of blood on the train station floor. After
retrieving Dent's revolver he took off to find his killer
with a local farmer, George Smith.
in Navan" tells the story through the eyes of Harold
Dent as he lay dying. Presented in separate vignettes,
the play moves through a series of events from the initial
shooting, to the ensuing chaos, to Miki's shooting at
the hands of Stringer, to Dent's widow being told of her
Susan Flemming does an excellent job in lifting the story
beyond the mere retelling of an historical event. Using
the fallen CST Dent as narrator is brilliant, especially
when the character is played by veteran Vintage Stock
member Hayden Smith.
is one of Smith's best roles in a career that has included
a long list of standout performances.
stroke of genius was Flemming's decision to weave Wilma
Dent into the storyline. After kissing her husband goodbye
and telling him to be careful. Mrs. Dent, played by Sam
LeClair, goes to her church to oversee the preparations
for the arrival of Canada's newly-appointed Governor General,
the Earl of Athlone and Princess Alice, who have scheduled
a whistle stop in Rockland on the way to Ottawa.
of the vignettes allude to the fact that she is completely
unaware of her husband's shooting and will only find out
when the news is brought to her front porch by a total
doesn't know yet. Someone will come to her door and change
her life," says one of the woman in town.
play is riveting with each scene building up to the expected
climax. But in typical Flemming fashion, there's a twist.
The play does not end with Mrs. Dent receiving the bad
news. It follows the ensuing inquest and touches on the
fact that Miki was buried in an unmarked grave outside
the Dale Cemetery in Cumberland Village.
final scene is reserved for the two main characters. Holding
their infant son in her arms, Wilma speaks about her unfathomable
sorrow and tries to remember whether she kissed her husband
goodbye before he left.
tries to tell her that she indeed kissed him and told
him to be careful as she had done everytime he left for
work, but he is in a place where her can not talk to her
and she can not see him. He reaches out to try and touch
her hand, but she turns and walks back to their house.
only by kerosene lamps, the scene is heart-wrenching,
and in the dark the sniffles in the audience are deafening
owing to the incredible performance of both Smith and
you never had the pleasure of witnessing a Shades of the
Evening production you should seriously consider seeing
"Murder in Navan". Not only will you be thoroughly
entertained, you will learn about an incident that will
go down in infamy as Navan's only murder.
in Navan" can be seen on Sept. 21, 22, 28 and 28
at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum in Cumberland
Village. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online
by visiting http://vintagestock.on.ca or at the door.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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