Though convicted murderer John Hogue's life was spared when numerous Canadian and American officials interceded on his behalf, he was by no means free. His was merely an exchange of execution on the gallows in the courtyard of the Sandwich jail near Windsor, Ontario, for a life sentence in prison.
Hogue's eleventh-hour reprieve arrived only days before his scheduled May 10, 1917, hanging. With the final plea having been made on May 2, the reply arrived—in the form of a brief telegram—on the evening of May 4,
word being received last Friday evening by Governor Wanless of the Sandwich jail that Hon. C. H. Doherty, minister of justice, had commuted the death penalty to life imprisonment in Kingston Penitentiary.
How did John Hogue receive the news? According to The Essex Free Press on May 11, 1917,
News that he had been saved from death on the gallows was taken to Hogue shortly after the condemned man had finished a hearty supper. He received it calmly, but after being returned to his cell talked feverishly to the guards, expressing gratitude to those who had saved him.
No explanation for the decision accompanied the message. That, however, was not to say that others weren't willing to jump in and fill in the void of that official silence. Back home in West Virginia, a newspaper in the city of Fairmont provided a glimpse at one claim—an explanation that took into account yet another overarching news trend eclipsing the minutiae of Hogue's personal trial.
Above: Aerial view of the Kingston Penitentiary, taken circa 1919 by the Bishop Barker Company. Photo courtesy of Canada Patent and Copyright, Library and Archives Canada, PA-030472, online MIKAN no. 3259972; copyright expired.