108 HOTEL OF MURDER
A rumor has it
It was a bright March morning in 1875, when a very prosperous cariboo country miner, Henry Dawson, arrived at Mcvee's hotel. It was a three-story Inn at Mile 108 of the Cariboo Wagon Road. In his possession he had $11,000.00 worth of gold dust and numerous nuggets which he had recently reaped from his lonely claim in the Cariboo gold fields.
Dawson had heard that the owner of the Inn, was a buxom, blue eyed Scots woman (Agnes Mcvee) who had come from Scotland to settle in British Columbia. Agnes dealt in young girls at bargain prices, as well as food, liquor and lodging. Dawson was in the market for a young woman who could cook and keep him company at his lonely mine in the Cariboo. His horse was tended to by "Agnes's husband", Jim, an individual who did all of the chores around the hotel. The bartender, Al Riley, was Agnes' son-in-law, a scheming, muscular young brute. Both men were completely dominated by Agnes, who not only was very attractive in face and figure, but according to old legal records unearthed in Scotland, was wanted for seven murders and three beatings in her home town. It is said that she could lift a 400 pound sack of grain with ease.
Young girls who were running away from home often came through this area on their way to the Cariboo gold fields, to find a rich husband. It was said that Agnes captured these girls by throwing them to the ground. She then tied them with ropes that she kept hidden beneath her skirt. There were seven fireplaces in the hotel into which Agnes, according to legend, would throw any young girls who would not co-operate with Agnes after her capture. To Al, Henry Dawson told the purpose of his visit to this hotel. Henry was told by Al that only his mother-in-law set the price upon the girls and that she had gone to Fort Kamloops for a few weeks, but that she was expected back that very night. in the meantime, Al suggested that perhaps the visitor would like to try some excellent whiskey which had just arrived at the hotel. The miner made himself quite comfortable at a table and had a shot of whiskey. Later, Al brought him a second drink and still later, another. At this point, Al mentioned that he had an errand to do outside which would take a few minutes. Leaving the unsuspecting Dawson alone in the hotel, Al went out to meet Agnes, who was lurking in the darkness with a loaded rifle. In the nearby stable, her husband was harnessing a horse to a wagon.
Agnes handed the rifle to Al. He then crept silently to the open window, rested the rifle on the ledge and took careful aim at his victim's back. The rifle roared and a heavy slug tore a good sized hole through Dawson's body, killing him almost instantly. Agnes Mcvee and her son-in-law went inside the hotel and carried out the corpse, which they then dumped into the waiting wagon. Her husband then drove the wagon to a nearby lake and pushed the body into its cool waters where it was found late the next day. According to the official report of the local authorities, "the deceased, Henry Dawson, late of the Cariboo gold fields, was most foully murdered by a robber who made off with his personal possessions and his horse." this was the first of many similar reports during the next ten years. Agnes Mcvee, her husband Jim, and her son-in-law Al, allegedly functioned as an efficient murder team.
Madams of houses of ill repute, farmers, merchants, miners and other prospective buyers of her young girls who visited this isolated hotel were all killed in the same way and in the course of the following years, more than fifty-nine bodies were found in the small lakes of the area. Agnes Mcvee always buried her ill gotten booty near the hotel. Most of it was in gold nuggets or coin, which she took from the bodies of her victims. Jim sold their horses, usually waiting until he had collected a small string and then he would travel south and east to Fort Kamloops, where he was known as a wealthy horse dealer. the operation had been progressing smoothly for a number of years and according to various estimates, Agnes' treasure amounted to about $150,000.00 in several caches on the grounds when something totally unexpected happened. Agnes fell in love at first sight with a prospective victim. his name was MacDonald. He was a strapping blond-haired gambler from somewhere down by Fort Langley and he was many years her junior.
The usual preparations had been made for a quick demise and Jim had hitched the horse to the death wagon. when Al Riley joined Agnes in the darkness outside of the hotel, however, she suddenly decided not to give him the rifle. "No," she said, "he has come to buy a girl and girls I have to sell." Al stared at her in surprise. "Sell? we will trade his gold for a bullet as we always do." Without another word, Agnes walked back into the hotel. She could be very hospitable and charming when it suited her purpose, and it was evident that MacDonald suited her purpose. They made the deal. She agreed to sell him a very beautiful 17-year-old girl for a price of $4,000.00 he paid the agreed price and left for the stable where he had his horses. He saddled them, tied the girl to one and rode off into the night, down the Cariboo wagon road. For part of that night, Jim was absent from the hotel. This caused Agnes no real concern, for she paid little attention to the comings and goings of her husband. Besides, she had someone else on her mind, MacDonald. she was looking forward to his next visit. He had said that he would return in two months time. Late that night, a rider dismounted at the stable. Agnes sent Al out to find out who it was, and he returned with some very disturbing news. "It's Jim, he has a pistol in his belt and I saw him hide a sack of gold in the hay loft. It appears to me that he followed after MacDonald last night and done him in before he got too far south." Agnes angrily confronted her husband. he admitted to killing MacDonald and he surrendered the sack, which contained $8,000.00 in gold coins. The next morning, Agnes appeared to be in a forgiving mood. She cooked her husband a hearty breakfast. "It's done," she said, "After all, we have his money and there's no cause for us to quarrel." Jim sat down and began to eat his breakfast. He was in the midst of it when he suddenly stopped and fell to the floor. There her rolled about in violent convulsions and died soon afterward.
"You poisoned him," her shocked son-in-law exclaimed. "Make sure your tongue does not wag, lest the same thing happen to you," Agnes warned him. But she and Al Riley had overlooked something very important. The young girl that MacDonald had bought! Her late husband had been so intent on killing and robbing MacDonald that he had carelessly permitted her to escape. Local law enforcement officers found her wandering along the road. After some questions, the lawmen learned that this young girl was only one of many held prisoner at Agnes' hotel. She told them that she had been bought by MacDonald, who had been overtaken on the road and shot to death by a man named Jim, who fed her and the other girls daily while they were prisoners at the 108 Hotel.
Agnes Mcvee and her son-in-law were getting ready to carry. Jim's body out to the death wagon when the law arrived at the hotel. According to Agnes, her husband had accidentally eaten some rat poison with deadly results. With the help of her son-in-law, she was preparing to give poor Jim a proper burial. He denied that MacDonald had visited the hotel, denied having murdered any travelers and denied that there were any young girls in the place. The law didn't believe her and prepared to make a search. At this point, Al Riley broke down. He turned on his other-in-law and accused her both of numerous murders and with the abduction of many girls. When the law searched the hotel, they found eight young girls, all chained together and half starved. All of them were terrified and it was sometime before they could be persuaded to tell their stories all of which were similar. Later, sifting through the ashes in each fireplace, the officers found the remains of human bones. Agnes Mcvee and Al Riley were take to fort Kamloops, then onto New Westminster, jailed and charged with kidnapping and murder. Agnes evidently had hidden on her person the same kind of poison she had administered to Jim. in June 1885, shortly before she was brought to trial, she committed suicide by poisoning. As for Al Riley, he was found guilty of the charges and hanged.
The hotel was torn down in 1892 and was moved to the other side of the road. there, the wood was used to make a telegraph/store and a post house, which still stand to this day at the 108 Historical Site. In 1924, a cache of $2,500 in gold nuggets and coins was unearthed by a farmer in the area. A second cache of $6,000 was found when Block Bros. Realty had an airstrip constructed in the same area. How many caches of gold did Agnes Mcvee bury around her hotel and in the nearby fields? It is impossible to say, of course, and although the supposed value of her treasure is between $100,000 and $150,000, only $8,500 of that has ever been found.
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