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Vol. 12 (2020)

“He was always a mental defective”: Psychiatric Conversations and the Execution of Bennie Swim in New Brunswick, 1922

November 24, 2020


This article examines the murder of Olive Trenholm by Bennie Swim in 1922 near Woodstock, New Brunswick, along with Swim’s trial. It also explores the competing views of Swim’s mental fitness, including those of his defence counsel, the Crown, the judge, psychiatrists, and local residents. Moreover, this article discusses how these views, or conversations, contributed to the creation of knowledge about who was sane and insane. What the conversations about Bennie Swim’s mental capacity determined was that while he was not a “fully responsible agent,” he was responsible enough to pay the ultimate price for his crime.