August 26, 2015
The evening of September 21, 1922 was a fateful one for infamous bootlegger Emperor Pic of the Crowsnest Pass in southern Alberata.
In the aftermath of an attempted illegal liquor run and an ensuing Alberta Provincial Police pursuit Picariello and associate Florence Lassandro gun down an unarmed Alberta Provincial Police officer outside his office and home in downtown Coleman. After their arrest and a sensational trial the two are hanged the following year.
Forgotten in the splash of media coverage are the victims, Steve Lawson, and his wife and five young children who witnessed his cold-blooded murder.
Read how the inadequate resources of the Provincial Police, and an unenforceable law, prohibition, resulted in Lawson’s death and the lawlessness of the Crowsnest Pass.
This book is the true story of a war hero and lawman, Steve Lawson, and the impact of his murder on his family and society. It is an untold story that will surprise and touch the reader.
Too often crimes and criminals are glamourized at the expense of their victims. This book focuses not on the story of the crime, but on the life of a victim.
Available as a paperback at,
Soon to be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Books and many others.
June 21, 2014
The site of mass grave in Hillcrest Cemetery. Coffins were laid side by side in the grave. Photo Steve B. Davis, 2012
One hundred years ago on June 19, 1914 Canada’s worst mine disaster changed the Village of Hillcrest, Alberta forever. At about 9 a.m. a massive explosion thundered through the mine. Of the 235 men working the morning shift 189 were killed. In a few seconds wives became widows and children lost fathers. The Pass was rocked to its core.
The Crowsnest Pass in Southern Alberta was and is still coal mining country. In 1914 coal was king. Virtually everything ran on coal, trains, heating for houses and industry. Demand was high and the Pass had many mines employing thousands.
I visited the area recently and took in the history. I stood beside the massive grave site in Hillcrest Cemetery. It shocked me how many men were buried there. The entire Pass area reeks of history. Visit soon to take in this fascinating history and beautiful scenery.
Memorial in the cemetery erected to honour the miners. Photo Steve B. Davis, 2012
Here are some links I recommend to learn more about this tragedy and the history of the times. I especially suggest the Crowsnest Pass Museum in Coleman. They have exhibits on coal mining and the disaster in Hillcrest. They are also stewarding the centennial remembrances.
Crowsnest Pass Museum, Coleman, Alberta
Centenary of Hillcrest Mine Disaster
Hillcrest Mine Disaster
Discover Crowsnest Pass Heritage