"Peachie" Carroll "the slickest sleuth in the Maritimes"

Peachie Carroll

The Life & Adventures of Detective Peter Owen "Peachie Carroll"

April 15, 1860 – June 8, 1933

In his 1985 biography of Peter Owen Carroll, author N. Carroll MacIntyre describes the flamboyant Pictou detective as "one of the slickest sleuths" of the Maritimes.

In his own memoirs, published in 1923, Peachie Carroll tells of a life of unusual adventure, shipwrecks on the high seas, chasing gold in the Klondike, looking for ghosts in Caledonia Mills, and most of all, hunting criminals throughout Nova Scotia.

A son of of auctioneer/grocer Peter and Mary Grace (Pagan) Carroll, Peachie was born in 1860, the same year the Prince of Wales visited Pictou. Scottish-born Mary Grace Carroll was the great-grand daughter of John Pagan, who arranged for the ship Hector's 1773 passage to Pictou.

Peachie attended Pictou Academy, at that time in the west end school where Pictou fire hall now stands. A tall, athletic, boy, he was good at gymnastics, swimming, rowing, and other sports. He went to sea at 18 on the full rigged County of Pictou, and again in 1879 when the ship was lost in a Christmas Eve storm. Peachie sailed again aboard the Edith Carmichael, and then worked for a while in Colorado lead mines before going to sea again in an iron ship.

In 1884 he became Pictou's police chief, responsible for keeping order among the thousands of international sailors visiting the port. He held the post on and off until the 1920's, with interruptions to work as police chief in Yarmouth and Nelson, BC, as a railway policeman, a Dominion Coal Company detective, salmon fisherman, provincial policeman, Pictou's fire chief, and to join the search for Klondike gold. He solved the 1892 murder of Moncton police officer Joseph Steadman, as well as others around Nova Scotia and Canada; investigated the paranormal fires at the Antigonish County home of teenager Mary Ellen MacDonald; and arrested countless petty thieves, army deserters, strikers, bootleggers, and embezzlers.

Peachie Carroll married Rowena Henderson of Pictou, and they had two daughters who immigrated to the US and never returned. After her death Peachie married Maggie Gollan, and they had one son, Peter Owen.

Peachie Carroll suffered from a painful bone disease towards the end of his life. He died June 8, 1933, and is buried in Seaview Cemetery.

A monument marks the Carroll family plot in Seaview Cemetery.

*Text kindly provided by Monica Graham, author of The Great Maritime Detective : The Exploits and Adventures of the Notorious Peachie Carroll and originally prepared for the Pictou Historical Photograph Society.

**Thank you to Monica Graham and the Pictou Historical Photograph Society.

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Map of the Town of Pictou 1864
Map of the Town of Pictou 1879

1864 Map 1879 Map