In 2009, On Campus News will devote the back page to photos and stories about the weird and wonderful things that have, over the years, found their way to the University of Saskatchewan. A search of storage closets, display cases and back rooms has already turned up a number of note-worthy treasures. If you know of something that has a great story, would make a great photo or is just plain weird and wonderful, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 966-6610.
The Last Will and Testament of Cecil George Harris
Photo by Mark Ferguson
IPerhaps the most peculiar will in Canadian history —etched on a tractor fender by a dying farmer—tells a sad but fascinating story.
According to legal documents, on the morning of June 8, 1948, Cecil George Harris set out with his tractor in his fields near Rosetown. He told his wife and two small children he'd be working until about 10 p.m. that night.
About an hour later, Harris accidentally put his tractor in reverse while making some adjustments. The tractor moved backwards and trapped the farmer between the tractor and another piece of equipment, pinning his left leg under the rear wheel.
Harris remained trapped until 10:30 p.m. when he was found by his wife and taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries. Although conscious until the time of his death, Harris made no mention of the will he etched on the tractor fender using his pocketknife.
It wasn't until days later that neighbours, while surveying the scene of the accident, noticed an inscription on the fender: "In case I die in this mess, I leave all to the wife. Cecil Geo Harris."
The fender was removed from the tractor and determined by the courts to be a valid holographic or hand-written will.
The etched fender remained on file at the Kerrobert Courthouse until 1996 when it was turned over to the College of Law for the purposes of public display. The knife and fender can be seen on the main floor of the College of Law library.