Remains of young N.B. woman found in London catacomb 92 years after her death

An amateur sleuth has solved the mystery surrounding the tragic death of a young New Brunswick woman whose coffin has been lying in a dusty, unclaimed crate at a London cemetery for more than 90 years.

The coffin of Canadian Gladys Winifred Fowler (1898-1917) lies in a catacomb beneath the Anglican Chapel of Kensal Green Cemetery

An amateur sleuth has solved the mystery surrounding the tragic death of a young New Brunswick woman whose coffin has been lying in a dusty, unclaimed crate at a London cemetery for more than 90 years.

But one nagging question remains for Barry Smith: Will anyone from Canada come forward to bring her home?

Smith, chairman of the The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, says the sad tale began unfolding about five years ago, when someone peered inside a decrepit wooden box stored in a vast underground vault beneath the cemetery’s Anglican chapel.

For years, rumours swirled about its contents, with some speculating it contained the remains of an aristocrat from India or an unnamed murder victim dropped off by the local constabulary.

Instead, when the voluntary organization opened the rough crate they discovered a well-crafted casket with a metal plate affixed to its lid, bearing the inscription: “Gladys Winifred Fowler. Died 17th April, 1917. Aged 18 years.”

Despite the revelation, nothing much happened with the unusual case until Smith — chairman of the group for the past three years — decided last year to order a copy of Fowler’s death certificate from the local Public Record Office.

The document revealed the teenager was the daughter of then New Brunswick MP George William Fowler, at the time a lieutenant-colonel serving with the 13th Battalion Canadian Infantry during the final months of the First World War.

The certificate says he was at his daughter’s side when she was declared dead at Berners Hotel in London, having succumbed to a variety of ailments, including pneumonia, measles and mitral stenosis, a type of heart disease.

“She died such a horrible death at such a dreadful time in the history of the world,” said Smith in an interview from his home in London.

“The coffin was crated up and, obviously, it was intended that at the end of the First World War she would be taken back to Canada. But, for reasons we don’t know, that never happened.”

In Hammondsvale, near Sussex in southern New Brunswick, a headstone at the community cemetery lists the names of every member of the Fowler family, including Gladys.

“It’s all rather mysterious, isn’t it?” said Smith.

He says George Fowler, who later served as a Senator until his death in 1924, appears to have had only one other child, a son named Eric who died at 30 and did not have any children.

George Fowler’s wife, Ethyl Georgina Fowler, died in 1936, Smith added.

— With files from Dean Beeby in Ottawa

Just Posted

Scares and chills await at haunted house in Red Deer

Zed Haunted House helps raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer District

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

Queens raised $12,035 for the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Turkey to reveal details of probe into Khashoggi’s killing

ISTANBUL — In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Continue reading

Utah truck driver is jailed without bond after crash kills 6

HEBER, Utah — A man suspected of driving under the influence remained… Continue reading

A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US

TAPACHULA, Mexico — A ragged army of Honduran migrants streamed through southern… Continue reading

Postal workers to begin strikes in 4 Canadian cities Monday if deal not reached

OTTAWA — The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees says it will… Continue reading

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the… Continue reading

“I don’t feel real”: Mental stress mounting after Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Amy Cross has a hard time explaining the… Continue reading

Toronto residents set to vote Monday on the next four years of civic leaders

Toronto’s municipal election campaign, marked by unprecedented provincial interference, ends Monday when… Continue reading

Former PQ minister Lise Payette remembered as role model for female politicians

MONTREAL — Members from across Quebec’s political spectrum gathered at a downtown… Continue reading

Most Read