OPP donates diary to museum

The Fort Frances Museum now owns a piece of district police history after S/Sgt. Hugh Dennis donated the 1913 journal of Cst. Kenneth Campbell—one of the area’s first provincial police officers—on Monday morning.
“It’s fascinating in the sense that here we had a fella who policed the entire district, travelling around by train and recording everything from where he eat each day to what case he was working on,” remarked S/Sgt. Dennis before he handed the diary over to museum curator Pam Hawley.
“It’s a wonderful piece of history that documents the community in the early days,” he added.
S/Sgt. Dennis was given the journal during festivities marking the 90th anniversary of the OPP back in 1999 by Campbell’s grandson, Ken, a native of Chatham-Kent.
But he decided now would be a good time to hand it over to the museum, given that Fort Frances will mark its centennial next April, as well as any other 100-year anniversaries district municipalities might be celebrating in the near future.
As he flipped through the pages, S/Sgt. Dennis noted some of the differences between then and now. For instance, Cst. Campbell would administer fines of $2 for violating liquor licence violations while his daily costs were $2.80.
He would stop by diners in Rainy River and Atikokan and eat for 40 cents a meal, while chasing down wolf bounty hunters.
“It’s different, but not all that different,” noted S/Sgt. Dennis, pointing out that many of the offences Cst. Campbell investigated were common here nowadays—like theft and violations of liquor licences.
“I guess history repeats itself. And to this day, OPP officers still are required to have a daily journal,” he said.
“I think it’s great,” Hawley said after receiving the journal. “When we get those displays that look into the day-to-day lives of district residents for the centennial, it’ll really stand out.
“It adds a personal touch to history.”