The Bribing Butcher of Lytton

Where the Thompson River flows into the Fraser, a gold rush camp known as “the Forks,” evolved into the town of Lytton.

The first hotel in Lytton was built in 1861 by Belgian Argonaut Louis Hautier and his wife Josephine. The Globe Hotel developed a solid reputation on the Cariboo Wagon Road for Louis’ handmade pastries and Josephine’s fine cooking. They grew grapes and produced several varieties of wine for the Globe’s saloon.

In 1868, Hautier had a dispute with Patrick Kilroy, the town’s butcher. Hautier was a small, lightly-built man, known for his polite manner punctuated by a fiery temper when provoked. Kilroy, a Fenian, was large man of over two hundred pounds with a reputation for being stingy. The two men did not get along, and one day, after hearing Kilroy make disparaging remarks about his family, Hautier decided to do something about it.

Hautier arrived at the front door of Kilroy’s butcher shop carrying a stout cudgel in one hand and a pistol in his pocket. Not surprisingly, Kilroy wrested the stick from Hautier’s grasp and proceeded to beat the hotelier about the head. Hautier reached his hand into his pocket and fired the pistol, hitting Kilroy. Standing nearby was a First Nations man, Shal-lou.

Upon hearing the gunshot, several people rushed into the street, and seeing Kilroy lying on the ground, rushed to his assistance. Kilroy, his face bloodied and blackened by gunpowder, was treated by Doctor McInnes and the bill of $300 for the treatment of a scalp wound and powder burns was paid by Bill McWha, owner of the Lytton Hotel.

Believing he had a solid case against Hautier, Kilroy sought to induce Shal-lou to give favourable evidence by giving him free meat In the month leading up to the trial.

Judge Begbie arrived at the courthouse in Lytton and the trial of Louis Hautier began before a packed room of witnesses and spectators. Counsel for Kilroy and Hautier gave their versions of the events and then Shal-lou gave his testimony.

All of Kilroy’s bribes of meat didn’t seem to have made an impact. Shal-lou told of the vicious attack Kilroy had made on Hautier with the club, and of the shot fired and the smoke emanating from Hautier’s coat. He told them he had not seen a pistol in Hautier’s hand but he had heard the shot and had seen smoke coming from Hautier’s pocket.

Kilroy was evasive under cross-examination when asked about his assault on Hautier. After several failed attempts at getting Kilroy to answer the question, Hautier’s counsel turned to the judge.

Judge Begbie warned Kilroy he could be committed for contempt of court if he didn’t answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on whether he had beaten Hautier with the stick. Kilroy persisted in giving evasive answers and Judge Begbie ordered him locked up for six hours. Hautier was acquitted.