Unremitting Efforts

AuthorC. Ian Kyer
Unremitting Eforts
I 1940,  Aemilius Jarvis died, Colonel Frank Moss pub-
lished a pamphlet entitled The Jarvis Case.1 In it, he talked of
more than a decade of “unremitting ef‌forts” to “show that injus-
tice was actually done to Aemilius Jarvis.” Much to the chagrin of both
federal and Ontario provincial politicians of the day, Moss and the
other supporters of Jarvis were indeed unremitting in their ef‌forts.
As we have seen, those ef‌forts began even before the verdict in
the Pepall case, but after that verdict, they intensif‌ied considerably.
Within weeks of the Pepall acquittal, Jarvis and his supporters went
to work trying to use the evidence presented during the Pepall trial
and the fact of his acquittal to clear Jarvis’s name.
First, William Nickle was approached. He was, of course,
Ontario’s attorney general, but more importantly, he was respected
by all. His reputation for independence and integrity2 and the fact
that he had personally played a limited role in the Smith/Jarvis pros-
ecution suggested that he might be open to this new evidence. He was
seen to be above the political manoeuvring of Ferguson and Price. In
1919, before he joined Ferguson’s Ontario Conservatives, Nickle was
the f‌irst choice of the UFO to be attorney general in their UFO-Labour
coalition government.3
The OnTariO BOnd Scandal Of 1924 re-examined
Nickle was asked for a meeting to present the new evidence from
the Pepall trial and to discuss the return of the f‌ine paid by Jarvis.4
Initially, Nickle agreed to meet Jarvis and some business leaders who
supported him on December 30. But when Premier Ferguson learned
of the scheduled meeting through an article in the Toronto Star, he
immediately had Nickle issue a retraction. The press was called to
Nickle’s oce, where the attorney general, with Ferguson by his side,
explained that Jarvis’s solicitors had asked for such a meeting, but
he had refused. When the Star reporter said that he had been told
by several prominent businesspeople that Nickle had agreed to the
meeting and that they could attend, Nickle declined further comment,
saying that the matter was one for the courts. At this point, Ferguson
is reported to have taken Nickle aside and advised him to ignore “the
d ____ Star.” 5 Ferguson then brought the press brief‌ing to a close.
Ferguson undoubtedly recognized that a great deal hinged on
keeping the guilty verdict in place. To have had the verdict over-
thrown by the Court of Appeal or through a new trial would have
meant not only considerable political embarrassment but also the
return of the $140,000 restitution payment as well as the $60,000 f‌ine.
The money was clearly important to Ferguson and his government.
When the Court of Appeal reduced the f‌ine, Ferguson and Nickle both
complained publicly. They had accepted the restitution payment, and
then when Jarvis paid the reduced f‌ine, they had promptly seized the
money even though the law was clear that it should have been given
to the City of Toronto to cover the costs of maintaining the courts.
And then when the city asked for the money to which it was entitled,
Ferguson’s government refused.
Nickle could not have been happy with Ferguson after that late
December press conference in 1925, and not long afterward he had a
falling-out with the premier over the proposed repeal of the Ontario
Temperance Act.6 Nickle, a prohibitionist, resigned. As with the trial,
Nickle would play a very limited role in the post-trial process. Billy
Price, the architect of the Smith/Jarvis prosecution, became the attor-
ney general who would oversee its review.
Despite this initial rebuf‌f, or perhaps because of it, a large and
influential group rallied round Jarvis. Initially, leadership was

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