“Cranbrook Ed”, fondly regarded fugitive elephant of the East Kootenays (1926)

In June 2015, my BC Archives colleague Katy Hughes posted a blog item with photographs of “Cranbrook Ed”, a circus elephant who escaped and was re-captured near Cranbrook, B.C., in 1926.

This video clip, an excerpt from a home movie in the Allan H. DeWolf film collection, shows the day of Ed’s departure from Cranbook to rejoin the Sells-Floto Circus in California.

Here’s how the day’s events were reported 90 years ago, in the Cranbrook Herald of 23 September 1926:


With the departure of the noon train on Sunday the curtain was drawn on the elephant episode which has made Cranbrook the centre of attraction for the past six weeks. The day for the departing elephant was a most interesting one. Soon after a big breakfast at the Arena Rink in which he was quartered during his stay in Cranbrook, Charlie Ed, as he was then known, was led across the lots to the shrubbery in front of the Mount. Baker Hotel, where he was obliged to stop and have his picture taken, to the Royal Bank, where, finding Manager Marsh at home, they obtained his permission to use the front of the bank premises for the big event of the elephant’s career, his re-christening. At about 8:30 Charlie Ed took his place on the sidewalk in front of the bank and in the presence of a number of citizens Mayor Roberts poured a bottle of real honest-to-goodness champagne over his head, at the same time declaring his name to be henceforth, “Cranbrook Ed,” instead of “Charlie Ed.” This was done at the request of Mr. Orville F. Stewart, Assistant Manager of the Sells-Floto Circus Company, in recognition of the good work done by Mr. Ironsides, trainmaster of the C.P.R., for the company in connection with the recovery of the lost elephants, as well as to serve as a token of the esteem which the Sells-Floto Circus held for the people of Cranbrook generally. Doubtless when he reaches his mates in California he will take much delight in telling them of the wonderful time he had at the christening and of the events which followed.

The christening over (as everyone thought) a presentation to the winning lady in the Cranbrook Gyro Club auto contest then took place. Mayor Roberts, having kindly consented to make the presentation, asked Miss Marie Patterson to come forward. Standing in front of Cranbrook Ed, His Worship complimented her on the excellent work which she had done, and asked her to accept with her order for the $200 wardrobe, a bouquet of flowers. In his most gracious manner the mayor was handing the flowers to Miss Patterson when the newly christened [Ed], apparently thinking that he could show His Worship how such presentations should be made, grabbed the flowers and making a pass with them to his mouth, as if to eat them, then waved the bouquet on high, much to the surprise and delight of those present, then he dropped them at the feet of the honored young lady, who picking them up made suitable acknowledgement to both His Worship and Cranbrook Ed. The next stop in the triumphal march was at the Victoria Cafe, where he was the guest of the proprietor, Mr. Geo. Anton, for breakfast. Here, standing in front of the cafe. Miss Lopeter of the Victoria staff, brought out a tray bearing some delicacies, which, judging from the manner in which he proceeded to relieve the tray of its burden, was much to his liking. This was Cranbrook Ed’s last meal in the city of his adopted name. At the cafe as well as at the other points of stop, pictures were taken of the proceedings by J. G. Bennett; these it is expected will be on view on the screens throughout the country. From the cafe the march was to the C.P.R. depot, where Mr. Ironsides purchased a ticket for Cranbrook Ed., writing a cheque for $1,200.00. For this, Ed got a whole baggage car to himself in which to ride all the way to San Francisco, where the Sells-Floto Circus is now showing. Here he will join Tillie, doubtless telling her about the sad fate of Myrtle and the wonderful send-off from Cranbrook, [and] how he stayed over with the consent of Manager Stewart to help out at the Cranbrook fall fair.

For more home movie footage shot by Allan H. DeWolf, see Cranbrook celebrates Dominion Day (1927).

“Ed” and his entourage, including Mayor Roberts (centre) and Miss Marie Patterson (right), Sunday, 19 September 1926 (Digital frame grab from BC Archives V1985:30/001.02 item #1)

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