314: The Life of the Grey Fox: Bill Miner, Train Robber

Episode 314: Ezra Allen Miner, more commonly known as Bill Miner, was an infamous American stagecoach and train robber born in Michigan in 1846. Bill Miner’s criminal career included an early arrest on April 3, 1866, for robbery, leading to a three-year sentence at San Quentin. Over thirty-five years, Miner was incarcerated for a cumulative total of nearly 30 years, experiencing two official releases and making five escapes from custody. He became infamous in Canada for robbing the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and securing his status as a legendary figure in Canadian outlaw lore, which included an escape from the B.C. Penitentiary in New Westminster.

Known by nicknames such as “The Grey Fox” and the “Gentleman Bandit,” Miner was celebrated for his courteous demeanour during his heists. Furthermore, he is often credited with popularizing the now-iconic command during robberies, “Hands up!”; however, this may be hyperbole. Miner’s blend of politeness and notoriety helped cement his legacy in the annals of Canadian criminal folklore.

Sources:

This Week in History: 1906 – The legendary outlaw Bill Miner robs a train near Kamloops

Bill Miner | Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine

Bill Miner | The Canadian Encyclopedia

The Grey Fox (1982 film) | The Canadian Encyclopedia

“The Grey Fox” (1982) – Movie on Bill Miner – Western Stagecoach Robber | YouTube

The Grey Fox: The True Story of Bill Miner – Last of the Old-Time Bandits

Billy Miner Pie Recipe

Billy Miner | Mission Museum

Bill Miner | Historica Canada Education Portal

Bill Miner | BC Penitentiary Collection

Bill Miner – The Gentleman Outlaw – Golden BC Museum

Bill Miner | NFB Vignette

Old Bill Miner: Last of the Famous Western Bandits

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