While doing some research for the museum, I came across this gem from the November 1, 1894 edition of the Nanaimo Free Press. As far as I know, this may be the earliest mention of the word Halloween in the paper:
The youthful gang of hoodlums, whose unhallowed sport made Hallow’en anything but pleasant for their victims, had better take their warning, the only one that will be given, if they are desirous of keeping out of jail. To take away property of any kind so as to deprive the owner of its use, is an indictable offence…
There is a gate missing from a Selby street garden and the names of some of those responsible for its absence are known. If that gate be not back on its hinges by tomorrow morning, information will be laid against the offenders and their case will not be dealt with summarily.
Surprisingly, I couldn’t find any other newspaper mentions of this gang during the days that followed. We can only assume, then, that these hoodlums got away with this despicable act of “unhallowed sport.” With so many witnesses dead now, it’s not likely this case will ever be solved, either.
But I like to think that maybe, just maybe, this article was effective, that the human spirit prevailed, and that the gate was found back on its hinges the very next morn. We can only hope.