The girl at the end who introduced herself as Agnes Macphail is based on a real woman by that name who was the first woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1921. She had a long career, first as a teacher, then as a political organizer for progressive parties, later as a progressive legislator and finally as a delegate to the League of Nations. Agnes Campbell Macphail (March 24, 1890 – February 13, 1954) died shortly before she was to be appointed to the Canadian Senate.
Peter Outerbridge, who plays the priest in this episode, starred as Detective William Murdoch in the three Candian movies, The Murdoch Mysteries (2004-2005), based on Maureen Jennings' Detective Murdoch mystery novels.
The debate over women's suffrage began among members of the Toronto Women's Literary Club created in 1876 by Dr. Emily Howard Stowe, Canada's first woman doctor. The club was a front for suffrage activities. Together with her daughter, Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen, she led Ontario's suffrage campaign for 40 years.
Canadian women got the federal vote in three stages: the Military Voters Act of 1917 allowed nurses and women in the armed services to vote; the Wartime Election Act extended the vote to women who had husbands, sons or fathers serving overseas; and all women over 21 were allowed to vote as of January 1, 1919. Provincially, women were given the vote in 1916 in the four western provinces, in 1917 in Ontario, in 1918 in Nova Scotia, in 1919 in New Brunswick, in 1922 in Prince Edward Island, and in 1940 in Quebec. Source: Dunn, William and West, Linda. Canada: A Country by Consent. Ottawa: Artistic Productions Limited. 2011.< http://canadahistoryproject.ca/index.html>
The Honourable David C. Onlay, Lieutenant of Governor of Ontairo, was the inspiration for this episode. A thank you card was placed at the end of the episode prior to the end credits. His Honour the Honourable David C. Onley, OOnt was installed as Lieutenant Governor on September 5, 2007. He is the longest serving Lieutenant Governor of Ontario since Albert Edward Matthews (1937-1946). His battle with polio at age three left him partially paralyzed and he prefers to get around using his electric scooter.
The young man, during a rare lucid moment, mentions that he and his stepfather were great fans of the Sherlock Holmes stories and read them avidly, thus accounting for the remarkable accuracy of his Sherlock persona. Obviously, at some point he also managed to slip down to New York to view the new Sherlock Holmes stage play presented by William Gillette.
Gillette produced and starred in the play, which opened in New York on November 6th, 1899.
The young man spends the episode dressed in a deerstalker cape and hat, with the famous calabash meerschaum pipe by which practically anyone in the Western hemisphere will instantly associate with Sherlock Holmes. Problem is, you won't find either in Conan Doyle's canon. The deerstalker comes from a well-known illustration of Holmes, which the young man would likely have seen. However, the calabash pipe is strictly a stage invention. Holmes' pipes, when they are described at all, are straight-stemmed. However, William Gillette found that he could not balance a straight-stemmed pipe while speaking his dialogue, and so opted for the curved calabash pipe.
One would think that Murdoch, with his mathematical mind and passion for detail, would at least attempt to point out that the twentieth century would not actually begin until 1901.
In the season opener, Chief Constable Giles states that Murdoch has gone off on an indefinite "leave of absence". At the end of this episode, after telling Murdoch that she is quitting, Julia Ogden mentions that she had hoped to have Dr. Grace fully trained to the job before Murdoch's "suspension" was over. A suspension is a considerably different matter from a leave of absence.
The first part of this episode is filmed at the Halton County Radial Railway (HCRR)and Museum in Milton, Ontario (Canada) where they have actual old retired TTC streetcars (from the 1920s onwards) restored and running on the several tracks looping around their property. The station shown in the episode is an actual station relocated from Toronto.
Dr. Ogden cleverly comes up with a way to make a mold of the death wound that, unlike Plaster of Paris, will not leave traces of its use: a nifty new gelatin dessert that's quickly becoming all the rage--Jell-O.
In 1845, Peter Cooper obtained the first patent for a gelatin dessert, but it was unflavored and not especially convenient to use. In 1897 Pearl B. Wait (don't let the name fool you; he was a he) came up with a fruit-flavored version of Cooper's gelatin, which his wife christened "Jell-0". It was available in strawberry, raspberry, orange, and lemon. Lacking money and sales experience, Wait was unable to market his product properly and sold the rights to Orator Francis Woodward. Jell-O still did not start to catch on until after the turn of the century; in 1902, Woodward began advertising in women's magazine, as well as sending salesmen to as many local social events as possible, offering to supply free Jell-O and demonstrating how easy it was to make.
The concoction that Dr. Ogden stirs up in a beaker is green. Lime Jell-O was not introduced until 1930.
Nitpick: When Murdoch pulls the packets of money out of the safe, you can easily tell that there were only a few real bills on the outside and regular paper in between.
Murdoch mentions "the girl found in Holland". He refers to the so called Yde Girl, found in a peat bog near the village of Yde, Netherlands on 12 May 1897. She is believed to have been buried in the peat in the 1st or 2nd century AD.
Murdoch states that the masonic cipher has over twenty quintillion possible resolutions. This is a gross exaggeration.
Since each of the five symbols can be interpreted in four different ways, the 120 permutations must be multiplied by 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4, which gives 122 880 possibilities, much less than Murdoch stated. (In fact, there are only about 12 million possible sequences of five words.) A mathematically well-versed man like Murdoch would never have made such a mistake.
Of course, writing out all possibilities would still require "a larger blackboard".
In this episode, Murdoch uses a device that he has supposedly conceived that he calls "night vision goggles". But when he describes how they work to inspector Brackenreid, he says; "they're a special design that allow incoming rays to be focused on a specific point in space", he is in fact describing a telephoto lens, not a "light amplifying device" as he says. What he has created are binoculars.
Night vision goggles were invented in Germany by AEG in 1939, several decades later than the period of the Murdoch Mysteries.
Goof: In the beginning of the episode, Inspector Brackenreid shows a fugitive's rap sheet to the constables. Mugshots in late XIX and early XX century were typically taken from the front only and portrayed a person from the waist up, not just the face and shoulders.
Goof: When Murdoch encounters Baumgaertz, the latter holds a revolver and a cocking sound is heard. When we see the gun in the next shot, its hammer is uncocked.
Murdoch seems astounded by the film projector, but being a man vividly interested in recent inventions he should have heard about Bouly/Lumiere's cimematograph that was capable of projecting moving pictures and was invented circa 1892. By 1895-1896, when the series takes place, the first actual movies were already being publicly screened in France.
Goof: All the characters refer to Prussia or the Prussian Empire. However, since 1871 Prussia has been only a region in the Second German Empire. Using an obsolete name can be justified in the case of policemen, but not in the case of Myers, a government agent.
Murdoch gives the appearance of near-suicidal carelessness as he prepares for his crossbow experiment with an armed crossbow on his desk aiming directly at his back.
Goof: Murdoch supposedly finds that toluene is used to lubricate printing presses, which provides an important clue. Actually, toluene has no lubricative properties but it was a popular solvent for printing inks.