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Posted: Jul 17 2006, 09:14 PM
Group: Advanced Members
Member No.: 2
Joined: 24-June 06
http://www.russianbooks.org/small.htm (pictures and scans on this page)
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF AMBROSE SMALL: CASE CLOSED! is a brief summary of the story behind the mysterious disappearance of Canadian theater tycoon Ambrose Small in Toronto in 1919. This web page was originally created as a television documentary proposal for History Television.
On December 2, 1919, on the day that Canadian theater tycoon Ambrose Small received a check for one million dollars, he vanished in the streets of downtown Toronto, leaving his money behind safely deposited in a nearby bank.
Small's bizarre disappearance captured the imagination of the press worldwide and was at its time dubbed with the distinction "Crime of the Century." Headlines in London, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago announced that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was to consult the investigation. Frustrated Toronto Police hired clairvoyants in their desperation. A $50,000 reward was offered for information about Small's disappearance, an extraordinary sum in those days. No trace of the vanished millionaire was ever found.
In Canada the mystery continued to capture headlines for years, culminating with an extraordinary Ontario Attorney-General's Special Inquiry in 1936, sixteen years after the disappearance.
Although the case was officially closed in 1960, police were still receiving and investigating letters purporting to disclose Ambrose Small's burial location forty-five years later. As late 1965, Toronto Police detectives inspected a possible grave site in Rosedale Valley.
By 1970, the story was reaching mythical proportions: the ghost of Ambrose Small was reported haunting one of his former properties, the Grand Theater in London, Ontario and is credited to have saved the theatre's most prominent architectural feature from unintentional demolition. The disappearance was still a big enough story in 1974, for the Toronto Sun tabloid to print a series of six full-page accounts of the case.
More recently the story of Ambrose Small's disappearance has resurfaced several times in literary form, including Michael Ondaatje's novel, In the Skin of the Lion, and in Fred McClement's The Strange Case of Ambrose Small, which forms the basis of Sleeping Dogs Lie - a 1999 Sullivan Productions made-for-TV movie.
The Ambrose Small mystery has remained unsolved--at least until now!
A document recently discovered by the producer, offers a compelling inside look into the case never made public before. Written in 1936 by OPP Inspector Edward L. Hammond, the lead Provincial investigator in the case, the document not only summarizes the inside story of the Ambrose Small investigation from start to finish, but also names for the first time publicly, the suspects and motives. More shockingly, Hammond convincingly accuses the lead Toronto Police detective in the case, Austin Mitchell, of orchestrating a deliberate cover up.
OPP Inspector Edward L. Hammond, posing with a seized gambling apparatus. (circa. 1925.)
Hammond, the lead Provincial investigator in the mysterious vanishing of Ambrose Small, is the author of a recently discovered memorandum about the case. The contents of his startling 1936 report, written sixteen years after the event, have never been made public.
The opening page of Hammond's secret memorandum.
Ambrose Small: Case Closed! explores what was arguably Canada's "Crime of the Century" in a definitive television documentary about the Ambrose Small Case--Canada's most enduring crime mystery.
The one-hour documentary focuses on the mysterious disappearance of Ambrose Small and the decades of scandal and controversy that followed.
Ostensibly Ambrose and Theresa Small were leading socialites in Toronto with a house in the posh Rosedale neighborhood and memberships in the most exclusive clubs. Theresa was so powerful and well connected that police hesitated to call upon her as late as two weeks after her husband's rumored disappearance. The story of itself was kept hushed up from the press for over a month, until it was finally leaked to the Toronto Star in January 1920, sparking a press feeding frenzy of global scale.
Every aspect of how Ambrose Small made his fortune was raked over by the newspapers, offering a compelling look into a shady world behind the walls of turn-of-the-century respectability in industrial age Canada. Small's fortune was made on what was the equivalent at the time of strip clubs and porno theaters: live theater plays with a very racy, unique and singular theme: the imagined sexuality of single working girls. Shows with titles like School for Scandal, Nellie the Beautiful Cloak Model and Bertha the Sewing-Machine Girl, addressed an obsession in puritan Toronto with an influx of single girls coming to work in the city and often residing alone away from their families.
After his disappearance, Ambrose Small was revealed to be every Victorian social reformer's worst nightmare. It was discovered he maintained a string of working class mistresses and built a specially designed secret sex room in Toronto's premier theater: the Grand Opera House--the crown jewel in Small's chain of theatre properties. This was exactly the "girl problem" that reformers moralized and warned about in the face of the massive feminization of Toronto's industrial labour force.
Worse yet, a substantial part of Ambrose Small's initial self-made fortune came from illegal gambling. Ambrose began by running a bookmaking operation out of a downtown restaurant where he was employed as a dishwasher. His newly found friendship with a customer, Thomas Flynn, Ontario's Racing Commissioner, opened up contacts with high-stake gambling clubs just outside the boundary of Toronto's police jurisdiction on the banks of the Humber River. Despite his hand in vice, Small was an upstanding member of Toronto's elite Yacht Club, the Empire Club and the Canadian Club.
Small's wife, Theresa, whom Ambrose married after making his first fortune, was a Toronto socialite from the wealthy Kormann family. She was well educated, spoke several languages and was a formidable businesswoman in her own right. Described as a "paragon of virtue," she was a devout Roman Catholic passionately involved in raising funds for Catholic charities. Her funeral in 1935 was one of the largest in Ontario's history at the time, attended by Members of Parliament and of the Provincial Legislature, among other dignitaries and high officials of the church. Throughout her life, Theresa was a relentless donor to the church and willed her entire fortune to it. But she was also the silent but significant financial partner in her husband's shady dealings, unabashedly and shrewdly enjoying their profits.
The fact that Theresa was Catholic but Ambrose a Protestant, did not stand in the way of their marriage. It only became an immense issue--if not the only one--after his disappearance. The fortune that Theresa inherited from her husband, and which she promised to will to the Catholic Church, became a subject of a fifteen year public controversy and legal struggle in sectarian Ontario.
Toronto was essentially a Protestant city, with public office, government posts, awards and contracts dominated by the ultra-Protestant and militant Orange Order. With the Order's backing, numerous attempts were made through the courts and public opinion, to prevent Theresa from inheriting her vanished husband's estate. The issues were often shrill with mobs descending on the courthouse demanding that Theresa be investigated in her husband's disappearance. An underground tabloid newspaper was founded, The Thunderer, which featured hard core pornographic photographs of models resembling Theresa, posed in sexual acts with supposed priests and nuns.
In the end, the courts ruled that Theresa Small's reputation was beyond question and she successfully inherited and willed her estate to the Catholic Church. But even after her death in 1935, the issue of a possible role in her husband's disappearance sixteen years earlier was so intense, that the Ontario Attorney General held an extraordinary Special Inquiry into the fate of Ambrose Small. At its conclusion, the Inquiry publicly declared that Theresa Small was not linked in any manner to the disappearance, and historians since have written that both lead investigators from Toronto Police and Ontario Provincial Police, were unanimous in their conclusions that Theresa had nothing to do with the crime. The official report made no reference to Inspector Hammond's secret memorandum which so profoundly contradicts the Attorney General's final public pronouncement.
In its conclusion, Ambrose Small: Case Closed! will reveal for the first time to the public, a startling inside story of the case left behind by the lead provincial investigator. According to his final report, Hammond had collected a formidable array of information pointing to Theresa Small's role in her husband's disappearance but could do nothing about it. That Theresa Small was behind her husband's death was suspected by many and will not come as a surprise to most crime case aficionados, but that she might have been present at the scene of the murder and the motive proposed by Hammond, had never before been shared with the public.
Bitterly, Inspector Hammond also makes a grave and disturbing accusation: that the senior Toronto Police investigator in the case, Detective Inspector Austin Mitchell, deliberately covered-up the facts of the case by intimidating and threatening witnesses. To underscore the urgency of his accusation, Hammond appended to his report a sworn affidavit from a witness to Mitchell's actions, a document also discovered by the producer.
Toronto Police Detective
Ambrose Small: Case Closed! while being a classic historic true crime story, is also a portrait of a hidden social order during Canada's transition from the 19th to the 20th century. The disappearance of Ambrose Small is a fascinating mystery with twists and turns; a stage for a remarkable look back at Canadian society emerging into the modern world. The documentary is set in a dramatic panorama of Canadian personalities, issues, themes and institutions: the press, the police, the occult, private clubs, gambling, high society, the street mob, sectarian politics, theater, sex, pornography, conspiracy and murder. It is a revealing look at Canadian society from inside the belly of a beast--a dark tale of greed and vice in our passage through history at a time when Toronto was known as "The Good."
Ambrose Small: Case Closed! will take a traditional documentary approach in telling the story. The Hammond Memorandum will brace the retelling of this famous episode in our history. The narration will be driven by readings from contemporary sources such as documents, court and police transcripts, letters, newspaper accounts, diaries and memoirs and by current commentary from various experts on the subject area. Some of these proposed experts, featured interviews and commentators are:
Jocko Thomas, Toronto Star crime reporter from the 1930's, and author of From Police Headquarters , a memoir of his fifty years of crime reporting in Toronto.
Carolyn Strange , criminologist and author of Toronto's Girl Problem: The Peril and Pleasures of the City 1880-1930;
D. Owen Carrigan , historian and author of the seminal Crime and Punishment in Canada: A History;
Helen Boritch , author of Fallen Women: Female Crime and Criminal Justice in Canada and of The Making of Toronto the Good: The Organization of Policing and Production of Arrests - 1859 to 1955;
Tina Loo , criminologist and author of Making Good: Law and Moral Regulation in Canada, 1867–1939.
A series narrator bridge the remaining elements of the narrative voice-over. Original footage shot for the series will revisit the scenes where many of the events transpired. Remarkably, many of the locations remain today substantially as they were in 1919. Archival still photographs and computer animation will bring to life locations no longer existing. Posed period reenactments will be also be sparingly employed in crucial scenes. Period motion picture newsreel film archive material will round out the sources for moving images, while period paintings, illustrations, handbills, poster, newspaper images, courtroom sketches and magazine art will serve as a visual source for still images.
Posted: Jul 17 2006, 09:15 PM
Group: Advanced Members
Member No.: 2
Joined: 24-June 06
Ghost of the Grand
by Christopher Doty
Something has been bumping around London's Grand theatre for years. Is it the former owner?
Ambrose Jospeh Small was the most successful Canadian theatrical entrepreneur of the first half of this century. Within four decades he rose from the position of usher to the owner of a successful chain of live theatres across Ontario. The jewel of his empire was London's Grand Opera House, now known as the Grand Theatre.
An astute and sometimes ruthless operator , Small stepped on his share of necks during his monied business career. One New York producer branded him "a damned liar and a damned thief" while Small's wife claimed her husband "wouldn't have given away ten cents unless he was getting 20 cents back ."
But Small is not remembered so much for his life as for his death - or rather - for his disappearance . Hours after selling off his theatrical circuit for the then-astronomical sum of $1,750,000 the 52-year-old businessman stepped onto Younge Street in Toronto and vanished.
The investigation for Small's body was fruitless. Years later a second-hand story emerged that a local fruit vendor had witnessed a man stuffing something down the Grand Theatre's coal chute . The story was partially backed up by a stage hand who claimed some particularly pungent fumes belched out of the theatre's chimney on the evening of December 3, 1919 - the night after Small disappeared. Police reportedly sifted the Grand's huge furnace for human remains, but without success.
Five years later Small was declared legally dead. However, it was not the last Londoners would hear of Ambrose Small.
It's difficult to tell how the Grand became one of three known Canadians theatres to be haunted, but by the late 1940s part of its heritage included the legend that Small's spirit walked the stage after every opening night. Toronto-born comedian Beatrice Lillie supposedly saw the ghost beckon to her during a May 1927 performance. London historian Orlo Miller claimed that as she moved towards the spectre, a prop chandelier came crashing down on to the stage, narrowly missing Lillie.
Whether true or not, the incident proves Small's ghost was familiar with the then popular Lon Chaney film, The Phantom of the Opera.
In July of 1956 Miller was at it again, claiming that actor Charmion King saw a man standing at the foot of thestairway to her dressing room. When shown a photograph of Small, she identified him as the stranger. Years later, King denied the story but commented on the curious ability of the theatre's fly tower to "sing" on the night of a good performance.
A 1960 rehearsal of Gore Vidal's Visit to a Small Planet (which again involved Orlo Miller!) was stopped cold when a theatre seat suddenly flipped down to accommodate the posterior of an invisible audience member . "After a few minutes the seat went back to its original position," noted cast member Don Fleckser. "Now, you can tell me the seat just fell down, but you can't tell me it fell back up again."
The most compelling argument for a spiritual presence occurred on a summer evening in 1957 when a teenaged Jay Campbell and friend noticed a figure climbing a ladder up off stage. "It really didn't look like a person but from the waist up it had the form of a person," recalled Campbell who now serves as the meteorologist on a local television station. "It had an aura about it. "
It's possible that Campbell and his friend imagined it all - but it's unlikely they could have shared the same hallucination. By the 1970s the Grand had clocked enough ghostly visitations to prompt two seances on its stage during the summers of 1975 and 1976 . While the medium in charge never contacted Small, he was told the answer to the millionaire's disappearance would be found in the theatre's west wall. Unfortunately, this lead wasn't pursued during the Grand's 1977 renovations. The west wall was the only one left unexcavated.
But some of the Grand's regulars aren't so easily convinced by Small and the supernatural. Retired theatre manager Bill Trudell, who worked many late nights at the Grand in the early 1940s, was in an ideal position to see the ghost but never heard so much as chain rattle. "Where he was at that time I don't know," shrugged Trudell. "The ghost of Ambrose Small is a lot of malarkey."
During its centennial celebrations in 2001, the Grand Theatre officially recognized Small's contribution to its legacy and lore by hanging his portrait on its second floor poster lounge. Despite recent efforts by researchers, the ghost of the Grand has been largely absent for the past 25 years. The Avon Theatre in Stratford now claims to be the base of Small's supernatural wanderings.
More fact and fiction on Ambrose Small
Ambrose Small: Case Closed
Proposal for a new television documentary promises to blow the lid off Small's disappearance.
Dead Men Do Tell Tales
Detailed look at Small's career as a theatre magnate and ghost - though some of the material appears to have been cribbed from this web page! Someone get my lawyer on the phone...
Good overview of Small's life and career - even though it tries to claim Small's spirit is haunting Hamilton's Tivoli Theatre. Back off and get your own ghost!
Posted: Jul 17 2006, 09:16 PM
Group: Advanced Members
Member No.: 2
Joined: 24-June 06
What Happened to the Entertainment Impresario & Does His Ghost Still Haunt the Theater that He Loved?
Ambrose Small, the Canadian entertainment figure, vanished on December 2, 1919 and his disappearance was sensational and mystifying that it made a permanent mark on North American history. The marvelous and controversial showman would have undoubtedly wanted it no other way!
Ambrose Small was born in 1863 and at the age of 13, went to work in his father’s modest establishment, Toronto’s Warden Hotel. As he grew older, he began managing the hotel bar and booking entertainment for the customers. With these minor musical acts, he realized that show business was to be his life’s work. In addition to working for his father, Small also took a part-time job as an usher at the Grand Theater. He slowly worked up the ranks to assistant manager and then booking manager, arranging for florid and spicy melodramas for the venue. These programs met with much success and Small began to prosper. He also began to buy interests in small theaters in and around Toronto. His ambition was to own the Grand Opera House, but his offers to buy it were frequently refused. This made him all the more anxious to own it and he began to work ever harder to amass the necessary wealth.
Small also began to acquire a couple of different reputations. One of them was as a daring gambler. He was never afraid to bet huge sums on races and while he always paid off when he lost, he was not above being involved in fixed races either. He managed to win $10,000 in one race that was said to be fixed and not surprisingly, he was said to have been the one who fixed it. He started to gain a number of enemies in racing circles and in his romantic life as well. The short but handsome Small, with his luxuriant walrus mustache and fancy clothes, was a notorious womanizer. He was often seen squiring young and beautiful women about town, especially the gorgeous showgirls who worked the local theaters. He left many a hopeful starlet feeling both used and disappointed when he moved on to another attractive lady.
This is why it must have come as a great surprise when the rakish Small, just before his 40yh birthday, suddenly married Teresa Small, the wealthy heiress to a brewing fortune. What did not come as a surprise though was when Small began to use Teresa’s money to purchase scores of small theaters and to book the biggest-named talent that he could find into them.
Small finally had his fortune and he finally realized his dream of owning the Grand Opera House. Within a few years, Small began to grow tired of his marriage and secure business life and he began gambling and seeing women again. In order to conduct his affairs discreetly, he ordered that a secret room be constructed to adjoin his office at the opera house. The room was fitted with heavy drapes to muffle sound, a deep Oriental carpet, a well-stocked bar and a gigantic bed with satin sheets and pillows. Many a beautiful young woman was willingly ravished in the clandestine chamber.
As his fortunes grew, Small continued to make enemies. He made his prejudices well known to anyone who would listen, even strangers. He disliked children, Catholics (which was interesting considering that hi wife was a devout Catholic) and the poor and felt that giving anything away to a charity was foolish. His continued gambling didn’t help most to like him either but as he grew more and more daring with his wagers, he began to win more and more. Small was able to keep informed of the races at every track in the United States and bet on most of them. He became more interested in wagering than in running his theatrical empire, which now included almost every theater in eastern Canada. He spent huge sums of money and treated his employees and business associates with disdain. Small placed much of his business dealings in the hands of his private secretary, John Doughty, who was well aware of his employer’s dark and secret habits. Doughty though, had secrets of his own.
Grand Opera House
By the late 1910’s, the high life began to take its toll on Small. His hair had started to gray to recede and his face was always reddened by broken blood vessels, the result of too much drinking. While he was still gambling, his wagers began to be tamed somewhat and his womanizing was mostly confined to his long-time mistress, Clara Smith. He was also beginning to tire of the theater business and wanted out.
In 1919, Small and Teresa began negotiating the sale of the Small chain of theaters to a British-owned firm, Trans-Canada Theaters Limited. The deal was concluded on December 2, 1919 and the Small’s received a check for $1 million, with an additional $700,000 to be paid to them in installments over the next five years. The husband and wife endorsed the check and deposited it in their account at the Dominion Bank at 11:45 in the morning.
That afternoon, Small told his lawyer, E.W.M. Flock that he planned to inform his secretary John Doughty that not only had Doughty been retained by the new firm as a secretary and booking manager, but he would see a substantial increase in salary. Attorney Flock saw Small again later that evening (around 5:30) at the Grand Opera House. Small was in a fine mood, laughing and smoking cigars to celebrate the sale of the chain. He spent a few minutes with Small but then left to catch a train. As he walked out of the front foyer of the opera house and into a driving snowstorm, he looked back and waved at the smiling Small. It was the last time that he would ever see his client.
A short time later, Small also left the opera house. Bundled up against the biting wind, cold and snow, he made with way to the corner of Adelaide and Yonge, ducking into the shelter of a newsstand operated by Ralph Savein. The newsstand owner knew Small well as he habitually checked the racing results in the paper each day. Small always picked up the paper around 5:30 when it arrived by train, however on this day, the papers had not been delivered because the train had been delayed by a terrible snowstorm in New York. Savein said that Small cursed bitterly over the lack of the paper, which was something that he had never heard him do before. Small then trudged off into the snow and as he made his way down the block, Savein saw his form fade away into the blowing storm. He was the last person to report speaking with Ambrose Small.
Several days passed before anyone realized that Small had disappeared. His wife and friends were so used to his dalliances and gambling that they guessed he had simply gone out of town for a few days. They wanted to ignore his shortcomings so badly that they never dreamed he could have met with foul play. Once his disappearance became official though, the authorities launched the biggest manhunt in Canadian history. Teresa Small offered a staggering $50,000 reward for information on her husband, inspiring every amateur sleuth and crackpot to join the hunt with the legitimate detectives already on the case.
Meanwhile, the police were also seeking John Doughty, who had (coincidentally, it turned out) vanished on the same day as Ambrose Small. The authorities learned that Doughty had not taken kindly to losing his position with Small and before leaving town, he had gone to the Dominion Bank and, using Small’s key to his safety-deposit box, had absconded with $100,000 in negotiable Victory bonds. Doughty was found one year later, working in a Portland, Oregon paper mill under the name Charles B. Cooper. He was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for the theft of the bonds but was cleared of having anything to do with Small’s disappearance. He didn't learn until his capture that he had never lost his job at all and would have received a much larger salary with the new company.
As the hunt for Ambrose Small continued, many began to fear that the theater magnate had been murdered. A man named George Soucy, a publishing house employee, reported that he had seen Small being forced into a car on the evening of December 2. Also, on that same night, a caretaker named Albert Elson insisted that he had seen four men burying something in a ravine just a short distance from Small’s home. A cleaning woman, Mary Quigley, swore to police that she had seen a notice pinned to the wall in the Convent of Precious Blood, located on St. Anthony Street, which requested “prayers for the repose of the soul of Ambrose J. Small” several days before the public or the press knew that he had vanished!
These turned out to be some of the best leads that the police had but they were among the hundreds that actually came in. The authorities conducted a painstaking search for the missing man. Every business in Toronto was searched and all six cities where Small had theaters were scoured for clues. Toronto Bay was dredged several times and the basement of the Small mansion on Glen Road was excavated. The search continued for years and even as late as 1944, investigators were still digging up the basement of the Grand Opera House, hoping to find Small’s bones. They also tore up the floor boards and pried off wall panels in the search. Years later, a second-hand story emerged that a local fruit vendor had witnessed a man stuffing something down the theatre's coal chute. The story was partially backed up by a stage hand who claimed some particularly pungent fumes belched out of the theatre's chimney on the evening of December 3, 1919 -- the night after Small disappeared. Police reportedly sifted the Grand's huge furnace for human remains, but without success.
Teresa Small was interrogated several times about her husband’s disappearance. She was convinced that he had been done in by one of the countless women he had been involved with over the years. She knew all about his affairs but had ignored them for a long time. Finally, she had demanded that he stop seeing all of them, including his mistress Clara Smith, after Teresa discovered several obscene letters that Clara had written to Small. She had placed the letters on the dining room table so that he would know that she had seen them. Small came upon the correspondence and destroyed it all, insuring his wife that his cheating days were over. This occurred in 1918 but Teresa did not know that her husband had continued seeing Smith up until the day that he vanished. In fact, he even had dinner with her on December 1. The police concluded that Smith knew nothing of her lover’s fate.
By 1920, the case had become desperate and the police had resorted to following ridiculous stories and what turned out to be frequent hoaxes. That same year though, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer who created Sherlock Holmes and who was known in England for helping the authorities with a number of seemingly unsolvable crimes, was touring the United States. A reporter asked him what he thought of the Small disappearance and he admitted that he was intrigued and had been following the story in the papers. He was asked if he might help out with it and Doyle agreed that if asked, he would consult on the case. Within days, newspapers in Canada and the United States were running headlines that cried “World’s Greatest Detective to Solve Small Case” and “Sherlock Holmes to Reveal Toronto Mystery”. For some reason though, Doyle was never asked to consult and his interest in the case turned to other things.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
And while the famous author was never asked to look into the case, the authorities were desperate enough in 1926 to contact a Vienna criminologist named Dr. Maximilian Langsner and to hire him to delve into the rapidly cooling affair. Langsner claimed that he was able to use psychic “thought processes” to find the missing man. While he was put up the finest Toronto hotel, conducting séances and “astral trips”, he sent the police out to follow his divinations, digging up half the countryside and finding nothing. When the detectives complained, he replied that the policemen were clouding his vision and he would have to look more later. Public outcry sent Langsner packing and the police department was left with the huge bills that he had run up on the official tab.
After 1919, Ambrose Small was “spotted” in hundreds of places from owning a hotel in South America to living it up in France with a girl on each arm and a champagne bottle gripped in each fist. A psychic envisioned him buried in the Toronto city dump. An old friend claimed to catch a glimpse of him on the street in London. The magician Harry Blackstone swore that he spotted Small gambling in a Mexican cantina.
Regardless, the courts pronounced him officially dead in 1923, after Teresa Small petitioned them to allow her to donate a substantial portion of his estate to the church. She planned to will the entire fortune to the church after her death. This began a fresh round on controversy and mobs even descended on the courthouse, demanding that Teresa be investigated in her husband's disappearance. In the end, the courts ruled that Teresa Small's reputation was beyond question and she successfully inherited and willed her estate to the Catholic Church. But even after her death in 1935, the issue of a possible role in her husband's disappearance was so intense, that the Ontario Attorney General launched a special investigation into the fate of Ambrose Small. At its conclusion, they publicly declared that she was not linked in any manner to the disappearance, and that both lead investigators from Toronto Police and Ontario Provincial Police were unanimous in their conclusions that Teresa had nothing to do with the crime. However, this contradicts a letter that was allegedly found in 2001 that was written by Inspector Edward L. Hammond, the lead Provincial investigator in the case. According to rumor, it not only details the real story behind the case, but a cover-up that was perpetrated by police officials and also the fact that Teresa Small not only arranged her husband's murder, but was present when it took place. To this day, the document has not been made public and has not been authenticated, deepening the mystery.
The Case of Ambrose Small was officially closed in 1960, so he has been placed in the “gone, but not forgotten” category from that point on. But even then, the police were still receiving and investigating letters purporting to disclose Small's burial location. As late 1965, Toronto Police detectives inspected a possible grave site in Rosedale Valley.
By 1970, the story was reaching mythical proportions: the ghost of Ambrose Small was reported haunting one of his former properties, the Grand Theater in London, Ontario and is credited to have saved the theatre's most prominent architectural feature from unintentional demolition. It's difficult to know how the Grand got its reputation for being haunted, but by the late 1940s part of its heritage included the legend that Small's spirit walked the stage after every opening night. Toronto-born comedian Beatrice Lillie supposedly saw the ghost beckon to her during a May 1927 performance.
In July of 1956 actor Charmion King saw a man standing at the foot of a stairway. When shown a photograph of Small, she identified him as the stranger.
A 1960 rehearsal of Gore Vidal's "Visit to a Small Planet" was stopped cold when a theatre seat suddenly flipped down to accommodate the posterior of an invisible audience member . "After a few minutes the seat went back to its original position," noted cast member Don Fleckser. "Now, you can tell me the seat just fell down, but you can't tell me it fell back up again."
The most compelling argument for a spiritual presence occurred on a summer evening in 1957 when Jay Campbell and a friend noticed a figure climbing a ladder up off stage. "It really didn't look like a person but from the waist up it had the form of a person," recalled Campbell, who later became a meteorologist for a local television station. "It had an aura about it. "
It's possible that Campbell and his friend imagined it all - but it's unlikely they could have shared the same hallucination. By the 1970's the Grand had documented enough ghostly visitations to prompt two séances on its stage during the summers of 1975 and 1976 . While the medium in charge never contacted Small, he was told the answer to the millionaire's disappearance would be found in the theatre's west wall. Unfortunately, this lead wasn't pursued during the Grand's 1977 renovations. The west wall was the only one left unexcavated.
What really happened to the theater mogul remains anybody’s guess and the mystery of Ambrose Small will undoubtedly live on for many years to come.
Posted: Jul 17 2006, 09:18 PM
Group: Advanced Members
Member No.: 2
Joined: 24-June 06
What happened to Ambrose Small?
When Ambrose Small walked off into a snowy Toronto night on Dec. 2, 1919, the wealthy theatre-chain owner was never heard from again.
Earlier in the day, he had completed a deal to sell his theatres to a British company for $1.7 million. Later that evening was the last reported sighting of Small.
Leads poured in as police searched beneath the floorboards and in the furnace ashes of his theatres. No body was ever found. Like Elvis, sightings of Small were reported from South America to London to France despite his being pronounced officially dead in 1923.
In 1935, a special investigation by the Ontario attorney general cleared his wife, Teresa, who some had speculated arranged for her husband's death. The case was officially closed in 1960.
Posted: Jul 17 2006, 09:37 PM
Group: Advanced Members
Member No.: 2
Joined: 24-June 06
A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book
Edited and Annotated by Mr. X
I AM A collector of notes upon subjects that have diversity -- such as deviations from concentricity in the lunar crater Copernicus, and a sudden appearance of purple Englishmen -- stationary meteor-radiants, and a reported growth of hair on the bald head of a mummy -- and "Did the girl swallow the octopus?"(1)
But my liveliest interest is not so much in things, as in relations of things. I have spent much time thinking about the alleged pseudo-relations that are called coincidences. What if some of them should not be coincidences?
Ambrose Small disappeared, and to only one person could be attributed a motive for his disappearance. Only to one person's motives could the fires in the house in Derby be attributed. Only to one person's motives could be attributed the probable murder of Henry Chappell. But, according to the verdicts in all these cases, the meaning of all is of nothing but coincidence between motives and events.
Before I looked into the case of Ambrose Small, I was [18/19] attracted to it by another seeming coincidence. That there could be any meaning in it seemed so preposterous that, as influenced by much experience, I gave it serious thought. About six years before the disappearance of Ambrose Small, Ambrose Bierce had disappeared. Newspapers all over the world had made much of the mystery of Ambrose Bierce. But what could the disappearance of one Ambrose, in Texas, have to do with the disappearance of another Ambrose, in Canada? Was somebody collecting Ambroses? There was in these questions an appearance of childishness that attracted my respectful attention.
Lloyd's Sunday News (London) June 20, 1920 -- that, near the town of Stretton, Leicestershire, had been found the body of a cyclist, Annie Bella Wright.(2) She had been killed by a wound in her head. The correspondent who wrote this story was an illogical fellow, who loaded his story with an unrelated circumstance: or, with a dim suspicion of an unexplained relationship, he noted that in a field, not far from where the body of the girl lay, was found the body of a crow.
In the explanation of coincidence there is much of laziness, and helplessness, and response to an instinctive fear that scientific dogma will be endangered. It is a tag, or a label: but of course every tag, or label, fits well enough at times. A while ago, I noted a case of detectives who were searching for a glass-eyed man named Jackson. A Jackson, with a glass eye, was arrested in Boston. But he was not the Jackson they wanted, and pretty soon they got their glass-eyed Jackson, in Philadelphia. I never de- [19/20] veloped anything out of this item -- such as that, if there's a Murphy with a hare lip, in Chicago, there must be another hare-lipped Murphy somewhere else. It would be a comforting idea to optimists, who think that ours is a balanced existence: all that I report is that I haven't confirmed it.
But the body of a girl, and the body of a crow --
And, going over files of newspapers, I came upon this:
The body of a woman, found in the River Dee, near the town of Eccleston (London Daily Express, June 12, 1911).(3) And nearby was found the body of another woman. One of these women was a resident of Eccleston: the other was a visitor from the Isle of Man. They had been unknown to each other. About ten o'clock, morning of June 10th, they had gone out from houses in opposite parts of the town.
New York American, Oct. 20, 1929 -- "Two bodies found in desert mystery."(4) In the Coachella desert, near Indio, California, had been found two dead men, about 100 yards apart. One had been a resident of Coachella, but the other was not identified. "Authorities believe there was no connection between the two deaths."
In the New York Herald, Nov. 26, 1911, there is an account of the hanging of three men, for the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, on Greenberry Hill, London.(5) The names of the murderers were Green, Berry, and Hill. It does seem that this was only a matter of chance. Still, it may have been no coincidence, but a savage pun mixed with murder. New York Sun, Oct. 7, 1930 -- arm of William Lumsden, of Roslyn, Washington, crushed under a [20/21] tractor.(6) He was the third person, in three generations, in his family, to lose a left arm. This was coincidence, or I shall have to come out, accepting that there may be "curses" on families. But, near the beginning of a book, I don't like to come out so definitely. And we're getting away from our subject, which is Bodies.
"Unexplained drownings in Douglas Harbor, Isle of Man," In the London Daily News, Aug. 19, 1910, it was said that the bodies of a young man and of a girl had been found in the harbor.(7) They were known as a "young couple," and their drowning would be understandable in terms of a common emotion, were it not that also there was a body of a middle-aged man "not known in any way connected with them."
London Daily Chronicle, Sept. 10, 1924 -- "Near Saltdean, Sussex, Mr. F. Pender, with two passengers in his sidecar, collided with a post, and all were seriously injured.(8) In a field, by the side of the road, was found the body of a Rodwell shepherd, named Funnell, who had no known relation with the accident."
An occurrence of the 14th of June, 1931, is told of, in the Homes News (Bronx) of the 15th.(9) "When Policeman Talbot, of the E. 126th St. station, went into Mt. Morris Park, at 10 a.m., yesterday, to awaken a man apparently asleep on a bench near the 124th St. gate, he found the man dead. Dr. Patterson, of Harlem Hospital, said that death had probably been caused by heart trouble." New York Sun, June 15 -- that soon after the finding of this body on the bench, another dead man was found on a bench near by.(10) [21/22]
I have two stories, which resemble the foregoing stories, but I should like to have them considered together.
In November, 1888 (St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Dec. 20, 1888) two residents of Birmingham, Alabama, were murdered, and their bodies were found in the woods.(11) "Then there was such a new mystery that these murder-mysteries were being overlooked." In the woods, near Birmingham, was found a third body. But this was the body of a stranger. "The body lies unidentified at the undertaker's rooms. No one who had seen it can remember having seen the man in life, and identification seems impossible. The dead man was evidently in good circumstances, if not wealthy, and what he could have been doing at the spot where his body was found is a mystery. Several persons who have seen the body are of the opinion that the man was a foreigner. Anyway he was an entire stranger in this vicinity, and his coming must have been as mysterious as his death."
I noted these circumstances, simply as a mystery. But when a situation repeats, I notice with my livelier interest. This situation is of local murders, and the appearance of the corpse of a stranger, who had not been a tramp.
Philadelphia Public Ledger, Feb. 4, 1892 -- murder near Johnstown, Pa. -- a man and his wife, named Kring, had been butchered, and their bodies had been burned.(12) Then, in the woods, near Johnstown, the corpse of a stranger was found. The body was well-dressed, but could not be identified. Another body was found -- "well-dressed man, who bore no means of identification."
There is a view by which it can be shown, or more or [22/23] less demonstrated, that there never has been a coincidence. That is, in anything like a final sense. By a coincidence is meant a false appearance, or suggestion, or relations among circumstances. But anybody who accepts that there is an underlying oneness of all things, accepts that there are no utter absences or relations among circumstances --
Or that there are no coincidences, in the sense that there are no real discords in either colors or musical notes --
That any two colors, or sounds, can be harmonized, by intermediately relating them to other colors, or sounds.
And I'd not say that my question, as to what the disappearance of one Ambrose could have to do with the disappearance of another Ambrose, is so senseless. The idea of causing Ambrose Small to disappear may have had origin in somebody's mind, by suggestion from the disappearance of Ambrose Bierce. If in no terms of physical abduction can the disappearance of Ambrose Small be explained, I'll not say that that has any meaning, until the physicists intelligibly define what they mean by physical terms. 
1. "Believe it or not." New York Evening Post, January 9, 1928. [AF-III-134.] An account of an Egyptian mummy, which alleged was bald, had grown hair after being exposed to sunlight. This article is not in the microfilmed edition.
2. "Bella Wright case still deep mystery." Lloyd's Sunday News, June 20, 1920, p.3 c.6.
3. "Two women drowned." London Daily Express, June 13, 1911, p. 5 c. 4. One of these women resided in Chester, (not Eccleston); and, the article does not state that the women were unknown to each other.
4. "Two bodies found in desert mystery." New York American, October 20, 1929, p.2 c.1. Correct quote: "Authorities believed there...."
5. "Curiosities of coincidence." New York Herald, November 26, 1911, mag., p. 6. The murder of the magistrate Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, was discovered on October 17, 1678, "in a ditch at the foot of Primrose Hill," (not Greenberry Hill); and, Robert Green, Henry Berry, and Laurence Hill, (Catholics), were implicated by a confession made by Miles Prance, which was later recanted; and, these three men were executed in February of 1679, continuing to protest their innocence to their end. Hall states: "On one point alone do the various searchers for the truth appear to be agreed -- the three men, who were tried and hanged for his murder, were innocent of the crime"; and, as to the body being found at "Greenberry Hill," he states: "I have not been able to verify the truth of this story. It excited much interest at the time. It looks to me, however, suspiciously like Whig anti-Catholic propaganda." John Hall. Four Famous Mysteries. London: Nisbet & Co., 1922, 87-136.
6. New York Sun, (October 7, 1930; not found here).
7. London Daily News, (August 19, 1910): (Could not find in Aug. 15 to 19.).
8. "Mystery of shepherd's death." London Daily Chronicle, September 10, 1924, p.5 c.3.
9. "Man dies of heart ailment on bench in Harlem park." Bronx Home News, June 15, 1931, p.2 c.5. Correct quote: "...124th St. and Madison Ave. gate...."
10. "Two dead on benches...." New York Sun, June 15, 1931, p.21 c.7-8.
11. "The Birmingham mysteries." St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 20, 1888, p.4 c.4. After the Hawes' murder, a stranger's body was found in the woods, and a farmer disappeared after selling his produce in the market. There is no mention of a third body, only the stranger's. Correct quotes: "The Hawes' murder mystery is for a time overlooked, if not forgotten, in this city, and people are now busy with theories of two later mysteries. The body of the man found in the woods near town Monday night still lies unidentified at the undertaking rooms, and this may become a greater mystery than the Hawes crime. No one who has seen the body can remember having seen the man in life, and identification seems impossible. The dead man was evidently a man in good circumstances, if not wealthy, and what he could have been doing at the spot where the body was found is a mystery. Several parties who have seen the body are of the opinion the man was a foreigner. Anyway, he was an entire stranger in this vicinity, and his coming must have been as mysterious as his death."
12. "Mysterious murders." Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 4, 1892, p.5 c.8.
To read the complete text of this book go here http://www.resologist.net/talentei.htm
A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book
Edited and Annotated by Mr. X
Wild Talents was the last book written by Charles Hoy Fort and was first published in 1932, shortly before the author's death. As the original edition is rare, and, as the book contains many errors, I am making this hypertext edition available with some of my notes. This work is not completed, and I am still seeking out many more of Fort's sources; but, I hope that others may find this a helpful and ready copy for their own reference use. All of the footnotes are the editor's work, the text is that of the 1932 edition, and, the original pagination is identified within square brackets.
Posted: Sep 16 2008, 06:02 AM
Member No.: 4
Joined: 25-June 06
Posted: Nov 19 2008, 07:44 PM
Member No.: 163
Joined: 27-August 08
Date of Disappearnce:
December 2, 1919
Location Last Seen:
Corner of Adelaide & Yonge St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date of Birth:
Physical Description (at time of disappearance):
53 years, 5'6" or 5'7", 135-140 lbs., blue eyes, reddish complexion, brown hair and moustache streaked with grey
Clothing Description (at time of disappearance):
Dark tweed suit, dark overcoat with velvet collar and a soft felt helt
Attached Image (Click thumbnail to expand)