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From The Archives: The Evelyn Dick story 55:33

She’s reviled by some and a morbid curiosity for others — and now, Hamilton’s most infamous convicted killer is getting her own line of merchandise.

Designer Chris Farias’s Evelyn Dick line launches at Supercrawl on Sept. 11 at the Hamilton Store. Farias says Dick’s story “intrigues the macabre in us all” and “continues to hold our imaginations captive.” So at the behest of Hamilton Store owner Donna Reid, he’s working on Dick merchandise for every occasion — everything from T-shirts to framed prints, coffee mugs to shot glasses, and maybe even an apron.

“Who wouldn’t want to cook with Mrs. Dick? After all, she was pretty good with a set of knives,” Farias laughed. “I've been really intrigued by the story of Evelyn Dick for a while. What she did was horrible, yes. But her legend, the history, the story — all fascinating.”

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Evelyn Dick emerges from another day in court in Hamilton back in the 40s. (Local History & Archives, Hamilton Public Library)

“A mother and wife woman who turned bad. Someone who 'knew' all the powerhouses in Hamilton for one reason or another. How could you not be interested?”

Dick’s story is the stuff of legends in Hamilton, and one of the most well known murder cases in Canada’s history. She was arrested for murder in the mid 1940s after a group of kids found her husband’s torso stashed partway down the side of the Mountain.

Her conviction in that case was overturned, but she was eventually convicted of killing her infant son after he was found encased in cement in a suitcase in her attic. Publications at home and the U.S. covered the trial. Some even came from as far a Europe.

Dick served 11 years in jail before being paroled in the 1950s, when she then vanished from the public eye — but not the public consciousness.

An unyielding interest

According to Hamilton Public Library archivist Margaret Houghton, Dick is still one of the most popular research topics at the library, some six decades later. They can’t keep the books about her on the shelves.

Literally. People keep stealing them.

“If you have them out in the public area, they’ll go missing,” Houghton told CBC Hamilton. “It’s one of our most stolen books.”

It’s the macabre factor that keeps people engrossed in the story so many years later, Houghton says. “It’s so bizarre. How often do you have a torso murder?”

Ready for pushback

Farias knows that a merchandise line about a convicted murdered is bound to attract some attention, and not all of it positive. But he’s ready for some disdain, he says.

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Lines for the Dick trial formed every day at the courthouse on Main Street. (Local History & Archives, Hamilton Public Library)

“Of course, there will be pushback. Murder is a touchy subject. However, it's a fascinating part of Hamilton's history. She's our Al Capone,” he said. “This line doesn't condone what she did … but one thing our city is great at is laughing at itself and taking pride in our collective histories. And that's my ultimate goal.”

Houghton says that seeing as the Evelyn Dick story has already inspired plays, an opera and more than one book, she’s not surprised that someone is taking it to this level. “Honestly, why not a clothing line?” she said.

And as for Dick herself — well, everyone has a story about where she might be, Houghton says. A grandmother or cousin knew her. An uncle somewhere in Ontario heard tell she’s still alive.

But no one knows for sure.

“I’ve heard people speculate on it for years, but there’s really no way to tell,” she said.

“She’d have to be very old…but anything’s possible.”