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To end our second season, Jane is revealing some of her exclusive research from the Gender, Migration & Madness Project: the mystery surrounding the death of Mary Boyd. Mary was an Irish Quebecer who found work as a young maid in a Toronto doctor’s household in 1868. But the circumstances surrounding her suicide only a few months later caused a maj…
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Few people in Canadian history have created more division than Louis Riel. At the time of his death in 1885, he had been found guilty of high treason, but even the jury who condemned him agreed that something else in Riel’s past was why he was killed: the execution of Thomas Scott. Who was Thomas Scott? Why was he executed in Winnipeg during the Re…
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Wild hogs eating corpses on a battlefield, women shot in the face, Irish soldiers strung up by their heels and mutilated, hangings, deportations, and ghosts… Does this sound like Canada to you? Despite appearances of gentility in Upper Canada, the Battle of the Windmill was anything but – and for a Canadian battle, it was chock-full of Irishmen. At…
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The 1837 Lower Canadian Rebellion was as close as the Canadian colonies ever came to revolution. Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan – doctor, politician, and notable newspaper editor in Montreal – was Louis-Joseph Papineau’s right-hand man in the tense years leading to the battles between les patriotes and the British Army. As the editor of The Vindicator, …
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Ellen Cashman was born during the era of the Great Irish Famine in Co. Cork. As a young woman, she left with her family for Boston and then the Wild West. A businesswoman, prospector, philanthropist, and literal trailblazer, “Irish Nellie” was a notable female figure in an extremely masculine world. Join us as we explore the exploits of this singul…
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The Franklin Expedition looms large in Canadian myths and legends, in large part because of what happened to the doomed crews of the HMS Erebus and Terror… or what we think happened. But at the heart of this story of the Canadian north is an Irishman from Co. Down who lived through the worst that the unforgiving winters had to offer, and then led t…
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Our final episode this season recounts the tale of Mary Gallagher, Montreal’s ‘Ghost of Griffintown,’ and the gory murder that has had her ghost searching for her lost head for the nearly 150 years. Well known to Irish Montrealers but not to many who live outside of the city, the story of Mary Gallagher and Susan Kennedy Myers – the woman who alleg…
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The Gender, Migration & Madness Project (www.gendermigrationandmadness.ca) is our focus this week: a multi-year investigation Jane has been leading that explores how the Irish were treated in Canadian colonial lunatic asylums in the mid-nineteenth century. Did negative stereotypes about the Irish affect the ways in which they were treated once they…
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In another country, the dark legends about The Shiners might never have been forgotten. But in Canada? How many people today are aware that one of the most dangerous cities in North America used to be…Ottawa? Not many – and yet, it was. The Shiners – violent, intimidating, criminal Irish lumberjacks living along the Ottawa River in the 1830s – fly …
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Jane gets a bit carried away this week, but we can see why. James FitzGibbon was one of the best known Irishmen in pre-Famine Canada as a hero of the War of 1812, the defender of Toronto, and a one-man riot-squad brought in to stop sectarian violence. He was beloved, trusted, and a friend to all Irish immigrants and the colonial establishment. So, …
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Ogle Gowan was an Orangeman, a politician, a journalist, a rabble-rouser, and the illegitimate son of one of Co. Wexford’s most notorious anti-Catholics. His use of violence to achieve political ends in Upper Canada made him a hero to some, and a villain to others – even members of his own family. This episode explores Ogle Gowan’s life and career,…
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The Orange Order – an Irish Protestant fraternal association founded in the 1790s – was hugely popular in English-speaking Canada in the nineteenth century, although it’s mostly forgotten today. How did Orangemen become so successful, both politically and culturally? Why did they take root so firmly in parts of Upper Canada? And what did this succe…
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Epidemic, pandemic, quarantine – these are words we’re very used to now, in a way that we arguably haven’t been in nearly 200 years. In 1832, Irish immigrants flooded into the Canadas, fleeing for their lives as cholera, a highly contagious and deadly disease, ravaged Europe, Britain, and Ireland. They didn’t receive the warmest of welcomes.…
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In late July 1843, the colony of Upper Canada was stunned with the news of a bloody double-murder. Thomas Kinnear had been shot and Nancy Montgomery – his housekeeper and pregnant mistress – had been strangled and dismembered. The two people accused of the murders were Kinnear’s Irish servants: James McDermott and the teenager, Grace Marks. Grace’s…
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