Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dream 06 "The Murderer & His Landlord" (John Boyd, 1908)

John Boyd slept poorly. In a few hours, he would wake, have a small breakfast, spend some time in prayer, and be hanged.

He dreamed that he had escaped from the Don Jail, and was rushing home to his apartment. But just as he slid his key into the lock, his landlord opened the door. "I'm sorry," the old man said, blocking his way. "But you can’t come in."

Boyd tried to shoulder his way by, but the landlord wouldn’t budge. "There’s nothing I can do," he insisted. "They hanged you. Can’t you see? Your lips are blue. Your skin is peeling. There’s an odour. I can’t rent an apartment to a dead man."

Boyd pleaded with him, begged him and threatened him, but the landlord led him out of the building and down the front steps. He took him out into the street and left him there, letting the door lock behind him as he returned up the stairs.

Boyd just stood there, defeated, and waited for the flies.


John Boyd was executed at the Don Jail in 1908 for the murder of a love rival at a restaurant on York Street. You can learn more about his crime, his execution and his executioner from the Toronto Star here. The Globe writes about his remains — now lying in an unmarked grave at St. James Cemetery along with those of 14 other condemned men — here.

Explore more Toronto Dreams Project postcards here.

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