The Forgotten Citizens Cambridge Cold Cases by Rachel Ching

By  | December 6, 2014 | 1 Comment | Filed under: Local History

he 1897 Murder of Emma Orr

Although this murder took place well over 100 years ago it is still a strange story worth retelling.
Emma Orr was a beautiful 37 year old woman who was married to Anthony Orr. They were living the Canadian dream with their young children. They owned a farm house near the small town of Galt Ontario.
They appeared to be a happy Family in a close knit community, but that would all change.
On August 9th Emma Orr went for a walk and never returned home.
Her dead body was found a week later, in a shallow grave dug in a corn patch near the Orr family property. She was shot. Her head was crushed and her clothes in disarray.
Rumours ran rapid in town as there began talk of Emma and extra marital affairs. More than a few men became suspects.
But the law eventually decide that it was the young farm hand (James Allison) who had killed Mrs. Orr.
How could a 17 year old boy be capable of such a thing?
While working for the family he grew close with Mrs. Orr. Eventually James developed feelings for Emma and acted out in a crime of passion, and murdered Emma when he was rejected by her.
James Allison was sentenced to death On Feb, 4th 1898. He was one of the youngest people to be hanged in the nearby city of Kitchener Waterloo, ON.
The last words he spoke aloud before his hanging were:
“I am sorry for my crime. I did it out of ill-will. I hope those whom I have wronged will forgive me, and that no one will turn this up to my people. My sentence is just, and I hope God will have mercy on me.”
One of The odd parts of this story is that in the 1980s a university of waterloo professor named William Chadwick wrote the award winning theater play, “Emma Orr” it was presented in Toronto and also at Guelph little theater.
It is said that the unknown surviving relatives of the Orr family were not impressed that there was a fancy theater production of the murder of their beloved long lost relative. I can’t say I blame them. As interesting as all true-crime stories are we forget one thing, the survivors. Rarely do we stop to think about the relatives or future relatives of the victims or the convicted. We assume that so much time has passed that these people are no longer bothered. We are wrong. A horrific tragedy like murder has the ability to have a long lasting chain reaction. This reaction will alter the lives of the people in and around those families for many years to come.
If you have any information on solved or unsolved cases involving local murders or dissapearences please contact your local Crime Stoppers or Waterloo Regional Police. If you have any information regarding this case or any other local case that you think should be written about, Feel free to email me at;
[email protected]

The Forgotten Citizens is an ongoing serier by Cambridge Writer Rachel Ching


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One Response to The Forgotten Citizens Cambridge Cold Cases by Rachel Ching

  1. Ros March 2, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    I appreciate and share your views on this matter. Recently, I mentioned my disapproval with regard to the media’s routinely and matter o’factly,including the causes of death of celebrity reports.I hadn’t questioned this handling of celebrity reporting until I heard about Leonard Nemoy’s recent passing and stopped to think,it’s not neccessarily any of our beeawax- is it?! My friend then pointed out, how it’s not generally mentioned in cases of suicide, at least not in an obituary.At any rate, I don’t particularly want the causes of my death mentioned in print,at least not outside my own funeral.Don’t even get me started on advertising and the use of images of the deceased. I nearly died, myself when I caught a glimpse of the late John Wayne(yrs. after his demise)”promoting” Coors light!

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