Peter Kelly & Hugh Kemp (CBC), "Questions and Answers by Dr. Noble Sharpe", [1968-9?]

Dr. Noble Sharpe, interviewed by the C.B.C.

Q: Do you know if fishing lines are prone to get wound around parts of a body due to water action, etc.?

A: I have read, but never seen, that fishing lines get wound around parts of a body due to rotation, by winds, currents and waves.


Q: Does the fact that there was no water found in Thomson’s lungs indicate he might have been killed prior to being thrown into the water?

A: In nearly ten per cent of proven drownings, no water is found in the lungs due to a spasm in the throat. Decomposition after days in warm water would mask all signs and it would not be possible to be sure of drowning as the cause of death.

Q: Have you ever ascertained from Winnie Trainor what she believes regarding Tom’s exhumation in 1917?

A: The lady you refer to (Miss Trainor) phoned me several times in 1956-57. She was very indignant and insisted she and her father were present when the undertaker returned and are positive the body was in the casket, but I couldn’t get her to say they had actually looked in.

Q: When Mark Robinson went up to look at the gravesite after the exhumation on July 18, 1917, he claimed that there appeared to be only a hole as big as a groundhog might make. Could you comment?

A: I was surprised after the exhumation how little disturbance we had made in the area due to the type of soil and abundant vegetable matter. If a coffin was used, I can’t understand only a groundhog hole being left.


Q: Have you ever been aware that there was considerable doubt that the undertaker Mr. Churchill from Huntsville, ever exhumed the body of Tom Thomson or sent it to Owen Sound?

A: That isn’t what I heard. I was told the undertaker was emphatic he had removed the body and indignant that a reflection was cast upon him. (But no one looked in and I don’t blame them; the body would have been a very disagreeable sight due to decomposition.)

Q: What do you feel respecting the admissibility of opening the grave at Leith to determine whether there is a body buried there?

A: I do wish this had been done and the point settled.

Q: Do you think, like some people, that Tom Thomson may still be buried in Algonquin park?

A: I too think Tom Thomson may still be buried somewhere in the Park but I also think we may have opened his original grave and he was not there. We went deep enough to rule out a second skeleton. I can visualize an unseen Indian later buried in Thomson’s grave provided no coffin was used.

Q: If you had present scientific equipment, could you have estimated more closely the time of burial and if you had obtained pictures of Thomson in 1956 could you have made a more accurate diagnosis?

A: We can now better estimate the time of burial than we could then but so many factors affect this. We cannot yet give close estimates. Had I been able to obtain full face and profile pictures of Tom Thomson, I could have made these to scale and compared them with bony prints on the skull. Dental charts were of little use in this case.

Q: What would be the basis for the exhumation of the grave at Leith?

A: As there are still rumours that Tom Thomson was murdered by that deserter you might use this for a Leith exhumation argument. I doubt if he will be exhumed from his original grave. […]

Source: Peter Kelly & Hugh Kemp (CBC), Questions and Answers by Dr. Noble Sharpe , in William T. Little, ed, The Tom Thomson Mystery (Toronto: Toronto, ca. 1969), 148-152. Notes: Peter Kelly was Director of Special Features, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC); Hugh Kemp was script writer for the CBC production, "Was Tom Thomson Murdered?"

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