9:30 a.m., April 21)
Prescott-Russell Trail rest stop to commemorate fallen OPP officer
By Fred Sherwin
Cst. Harold Dent was shot and killed while
investigating reports of a suspicious foreigner
in Navan. File photo
been nearly 75-years since OPP police officer Harold Dent
was shot and killed by a drifter in the old Navan train
train station is long gone, but the accounts of what transpired
on June 20, 1940 has been preserved by the Cumberland
Township Historical Society in a book and CD entitled
"Murder in Navan", and on the Community Memories
virtual museum website.
Harold H. Dent was born in Rockland on March 3, 1903 and
joined the OPP in 1930. He was stationed in his hometown
when he received a tip from Cumberland farmer Norman Edwards
on June 20, 1940 about a suspicious "foreigner"
who was asking for directions to the nearest train station.
talking to Edwards, Cst. Dent set out for Navan. When
he arrived at the train station near present day Smith
Road, he found the stranger waiting inside for the next
he asked the stranger to identify himself, the man pulled
out a pistol and shot him twice in the abdomen before
fleeing south of the station to a nearby woodlot known
as Spears Bush beside present day Milton Road.
the shots rang out the station master's wife called the
local telephone exchange manned by Gertrude Findlay who
just happed to be married to OPP Sgt. Allan Stringer who
was home off duty at the time.
immediately ran to Dent's aid. He grabbed Dent's gun and
enlisted local farmer George Smith to drive him to Spears
Bush where he tracked down the assailant and killed him
when the two exchanged shots.
Dent died from his wounds. He left behind a wife named
Wilma and their three-year-old son Murray.
would come out at an inquest several weeks later, that
the suspicious "foreigner" was John Miki, a
54-year-old Finn who had robbed a country club in Gatineau
the night before. He hid out on the Quebec side until
morning when he could take a ferry across the Ottawa River
on the Ontario side, he ran into Norm Edwards and asked
for directions to the train station. Later on down the
road he was approached by Edlow Lancaster he offered him
a ride to Navan. The rest, as they say, is history.
commemorate Cst. Dent's death in the line of duty, the
Cumberland Township HistoricCsal Society applied to the
City of Ottawa to name a rest stop on the Prescott-Russell
Trail near where the old train station once stood.
commemorattion ceremony will be held on June 20th, 75
years to the day after the incident took place. Cst. Dent's
son Murray will be the guest of honour along with local
resident Eric Smith who is the only known surviving witness
to the events that took place on that day in 1940.
was 19 years old at the time. He ran to the train station
with his father when he heard about the shooting and he
led two investigators who had come out from Ottawa to
the bush where Sgt. Stringer had shot and killed Miki.
effort to name the rest stop in Cst. Dent's honour was
supported by Cumberland Ward Coun. Stephen Blais.
village of Navan has a rich history and the culmination
of this commemorative naming effort recognizes an important
and tragic chapter in it," says Blais. "This
remains the only murder ever to take place in Navan and
I fully support honouring a brave officer who lost his
life in the call of duty."
Township Historical Society member Gilles Chartrand says
naming ceremony will bring the events of June 20, 1940
June 20, 1940, Navan was headline news. On June 20, 2015,
Navan will be back in the news again, only this time for
a celebration of duty, says Chartrand.
a full account of Navan's only murder, visit www.orleansonline.ca/pages/M2004012801.htm.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
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