The Great Cranbrook Elephant Hunt

Cranbrook Ed

Cranbrook Elephant Stampede : The Great Elephant Hunt - newspaper ad in 1926 local newspaper. Ad copy reads: The last of the los
Cranbrook Elephant Stampede

The very recently captured Charlie Ed. was the standout exhibit at the Cranbrook Fall Fair on September 16th. Mr. Ironside and the Sells-Floto officials honoured their promise to the Fall Fair Board. With the Conklin & Garret All-Canadian Shows providing the midway, Charlie Ed. was gently bridged back into his life as a performing elephant greeting the throng. Memories of alfalfa fields and lush native grasses were pushed to the back of his brain. Charlie Ed was quartered in the old arena rink building on the site of the then-emerging Rotary Park. He shared his space with less exotic livestock exhibits.

The advertisement in the newspaper proclaimed that Charlie Ed was to be re-christened "Cranbrook Ed." and that he was to 'go home' after the fair.

It may be that he was indeed pleased to be part of the show, and under cover. The Cranbrook Courier of September 16th reported that "Cranbrook and East Kootenay residents were greeted with two inches of 'the beautiful' when they awoke Wednesday [the 15th] morning. The Banana Belt weather was not to the liking of the inhabitants." The wild Charlie Ed cut it very close, trading freedom for warmth and survival.

Charlie Ed shared his notoriety with the 'Popular Girl' contest. Several of Cranbrook and Kimberley's young ladies were selling tickets on a new Chevrolet coach automobile, with the woman selling the most tickets winning a $200 wardrobe and the acclaim of being Cranbrook's 'most popular girl'. On the Saturday evening the first of the christenings took place, with Spot Griffin, Frontdoor Morgan and Ralph Davis, elephant men all, standing as impromptu godfathers.

"Cranbrook Ed." Leaves Cranbbrook : "Cranbrook Ed." at the Victoria Cafe, enjoying his last meal in Cranbrook shortly after his baptism.

Finally the morning of September 19th arrived. After a sumptuous breakfast at the Arena Rink Charlie Ed. was led through some of the still empty lots in downtown Cranbrook to the shrubbery in front of the Mount Baker Hotel on Baker Street. After a photo opportunity with Mayor T.M. Roberts in front of the hotel the elephant proceeded west on Baker Street to the steps of the Royal Bank. With the permission of bank manager Marsh the front of the bank was used for a further photo opportunity. The Cranbrook Herald records the event:

"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 [remember this was still 'dry' Cranbrook] 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. Ironside, 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."

"Cranbrook Ed." Departing : "Cranbrook Ed." entering the CPR baggage car that would take him from the Cranbrook stockyards to Sa

Then, with the christening over May Roberts turned to present the $200 wardrobe reward and a bouquet of flowers to Miss Marie Patterson, winner of the 'Popular Girl' contest. Standing in front of Cranbrook Ed. the mayor handed the stunning young woman her flowers, when the newly-christened elephant reached over and plucked the bouquet from the mayor's fingers. Making a pass at his mouth as if to eat the whole bouquet, Cranbrook Ed. waved the flowers on high and then, to the delight of the assembled onlookers, dropped them at the feet of the honoured young woman. Picking them up Miss Patterson made suitable acknowledgments to both Mayor Roberts and Cranbrook Ed.

The entourage then surged further west on Baker Street toward the stockyard and loading chute of the C.P.R., and Cranbrook Ed's final departure. However, the triumphal march stalled at the Victoria Café where, as guest of the proprietor Gus Anton, Cranbrook Ed. was served another breakfast. Standing in front of the café Victoria waitresses served up a tray of delicacies which the elephant promptly devoured.

At the depot Mr. Ironside purchased a ticket for Cranbrook Ed. for the sum of $1200.00 This gave Cranbrook Ed. a whole baggage car to himself all the way to San Francisco, where he would rejoin the Sells-Floto Circus at Santa Rosa, California. After the tumult had subsided, Mr. Ironside calculated that the Sells-Floto people had expended $20,000 in restoring the escaped elephants to their big top home. This figure did not include the loss of Myrtle or the transportation costs of the re-captured miscreants.

"Cranbrook Ed." Departing : "Cranbrook Ed." entering the CPR baggage car off the stockyard ramp at Cranbrook. He was ticketed t

A final sad note! After his illustrious triumphs and herculean journey through the wilds of East Kootenay for 39 days, Cranbrook Ed. suffered an ignominious end. Sold to the Fleishbacker Zoo in San Francisco in March of 1936, Cranbrook Ed.s name was changed to 'Wally.' Perhaps suffering from identity confusion, or maybe longing for the wilds of his youth, 'Wally' went berserk and turned on his keeper on June 16th, 1938. Stomping and shaking Edward Brown to death the elephant was summarily sentenced to his own demise. He was shot to death on June 18th, 1926 by three police sharpshooters.