June 23rd, 2024

‘The Last Hangman’ tells story of southern Alberta’s 1946 mass hanging

By Mo Cranker on July 31, 2018.

The Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre is seen in this file photo. Three photo exhibitions are opening at the Esplanade on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019.

Medicine Hat News

A screening of the film ‘The Last Hangman’ will be showing today at the Esplanade, 7 p.m. in the studio theatre.

The film was put together by Carla Olson and runs for a little more than an hour.

It tells the story of Canada’s second-largest mass hanging, which involved five German prisoners of war and a sex offender, all of which took place in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

Hatter David Carter wrote a book called ‘Behind Canadian Barbed Wire’ on the topic, and says the film is worth seeing.

“There were so many people at the first showing, they actually had to turn people away,” he said. “The film follows a story that I have done a lot of research on, and does a very good job at telling it.”

Olson says the film is historically accurate and follows a number of events from the 1940s.

“It centres around the German prisoner of war camps in Medicine Hat and the murders that took place there,” she said. “It follows the people that were accused of the murders and the executions that took place in Lethbridge in 1946.

“I wanted to explore murder in all of its forms, meaning the film looks at the murders at the POW camp, the murders by the pedophile child murderer and also the hangman who performed the execution — it’s interesting to look at all of these side-by-side.”

Olson grew up in Medicine Hat and says she did not know about this part of the area’s history when she was younger.

“I think that’s a big reason about why I wanted to tell this story,” she said. “When I eventually heard about these events I was surprised that I had never heard of it as a kid, which made it much more interesting to work on.”

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