Looking Back: The Mysterious Death of Daniel Haney

Three amigos – from left, William Storey, Walter Best and Daniel Haney circa 1920. [P08932]

Daniel Thomas Haney was the third child and second son of Thomas Haney and his wife Anne. Unlike his older brother Frank, Daniel chose to make his life in Haney and went into business with his father to develop the community’s first water works. He was known as a generous and easy-going man who, in addition to his waterworks, also worked as a fisherman and a BC Electric lineman.

Daniel met Margaret Knox – who was known as Mae – at a dance and they married in 1915. The pair had four children – Beatrice Marie, Thomas John, Helen Elizabeth, and Daniel Ralph. Their house was located roughly where the Telus parking lot is off of 224th and North Street and according to Howard Leggatt, who recorded much about the old days of Port Haney, it had one of the clinker brick fireplaces that were built by Nelson Carter – just like the one at the Maple Ridge Museum.

As Daniel and Mae raised their family, he continued in his various occupations and the management of the property he had received from his father.  It was a piece of that property that Daniel gave to the Catholic congregation to build a new church which opened in April of 1926.

Sadly, Daniel died Oct 12, 1927 while on a trip to New Westminster to conduct business. Much mystery surrounds the death as he was found drowned in the Fraser River having either fallen between the logs of a boom or through a hole in a wharf. What was he doing by the river?

Local papers gave great coverage to the friend and good citizen they had lost and did not dwell on details except to suggest that more would be forthcoming in the “city” papers – meaning New Westminster and Vancouver – once the inquest was complete.

Recently, the museum has gained access to digital versions of the Vancouver Province and Sun newspapers which give much more detail. Unfortunately, the Columbian is still not digitized.

According to the Province of the day, Daniel Haney was last seen alive by Norman MacDonald who was Chief of Police for Maple Ridge. According to the Haney family, Daniel had travelled to the city by bus to attend to some business. He had missed the last bus and asked Norman MacDonald for a ride home. The men had encountered each other in a Café where they spoke but ate separately. Approximately 15 minutes later when MacDonald was ready to leave, he looked about for Haney who was nowhere to be found. MacDonald assumed that Haney had gotten a ride with someone else and carried on home.

After Daniel’s body was found, police called for an inquest to be held at a local funeral parlor. It was noted that there were no signs of violence; nothing at all to suggest foul play. But also, his lungs were not filled with water suggesting that he had stopped breathing before he went into the water.

The added details serve best to raise more questions. Why did Daniel leave the café without saying anything to his ride? Why did he go to the river? Was he feeling ill and went out for air? It may be that Daniel Haney, only in his mid-forties, suffered one of the catastrophic heart attacks that can strike men of that age and he fell into the river.

Our questions about his last minutes will have to remain unanswered. Daniel Haney’s funeral took place at the church he helped build just 18 months after it opened. Some say his was the first funeral in that church.

Val Patenaude. Published Nov 13, 2019.