July 29, 2010

It’s become a well-rehearsed story-telling routine—one that I love to recount. Every group of kids coming through the gallery door hears the Curious and Unsolved Case of Billy Stone. Every Monday since our summer art camp started, a new group of campers gather outside my office to discover what happened in the building almost a century ago.

The current exhibition is the perfect point of entry into the Billy Stone tale. Artist, David Scott Armstrong recently completed a series of prints with glass insulators. These glass knobs were commonly used to prevent the leakage of a transmitted telegraph/telephone signal. David’s series relates wonderfully with the history of the building and the alleged ghost story associated with the premises.

That’s where the name Billy Stone comes into the picture.

Back in 1914, he was the night telegraph operator working at the Whitby Junction Station. In addition to being transportation points, train stations were also important communication hubs and relay points opened around the clock. In the early hours of December 11, an unknown person entered the station and waited in what is now my office (the window pictured behind me). When the coast was clear, the person walked up to the ticket window where an unsuspecting Billy Stone was working.

A gunshot pierced the silent winter air. The next morning, Mr. Stone was found dead. All that remain are unanswered questions and a picture of the young murder victim with a caption reading: “The late-William Stone Jr.”

Gather 'round, kids