Monday, January 12, 2015

Killed By An Assassin

In my post from yesterday, Jackie mentioned finishing a biography on Thomas D'Arcy McGee, so I looked up this summer photograph of his statue on Parliament Hill, with Gatineau in the background. This Irish-born Father of Confederation was a close friend of John A. Macdonald, and a fierce critic of the Fenian movement. He was gunned down while returning to his boarding house on Sparks Street, a block south of the Hill, late one evening in April 1868. The details of that night can be found here.


The man arrested for the crime, Patrick James Whelan, an Irishman with sympathies to the Fenian movement, was convicted (there's an argument to be made that it wasn't a fair trial, given the interference of the Prime Minister), and hung at what was at the time called the Carleton County Gaol. The building is still downtown, though these days it houses, among other things, a hostel for travelling students. I've been in there a couple of times... and the corridors of that old gaol feel oppressive... as if you're being watched. Needless to say, the place has many ghost stories. Is Whelan one of them?

42 comments:

  1. Fascinating history and ghost info, W



    ALOHA from Honolulu
    ComfortSpiral
    <3

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  2. I see you have lots of stories but, I am sure, will have been published even half.

    Tomás.

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  3. What a great pbit of history though very sad

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  4. Fascinating stuff! I haven't visited many prisons, but they do feel odd, and oppresive. I went to the vacated Oxford Gaol - very creepy!!

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  5. I have only visit a closed prison once as a museum and it gave me the creeps.

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  6. I enjoyed reading the history! I'd be scard to visit the building with many ghost stories :-)
    The photo is beautiful. Love the angle!

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  7. A lovely statue and interesting story to go with it! I'm a big scardey cat when it comes to places with ghost stories attached to them - I wouldn't be able to go inside the prison!

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  8. I like these post of yours with statues and monuments and historical events that I barely know!

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  9. Excellent sculptures and tres interesting info William, I'm with Aimee on the scaredy cat thing, she might have inherited that from me, no way I'd stay in the gaol overnight :)

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  10. Interesting history and great statues. It's never been safe to be an out-spoken critic.

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  11. @Cloudia: I should photograph the old gaol.

    @Tomas: there's no shortage of stories here.

    @Bill: sad indeed.

    @Revrunner: we don't have the extensive amount of political assassination here as you see in America, but it does happen.

    @Mike: if any places deserve to be haunted, prisons seem to.

    @Marianne: I think it would have that effect on many.

    @Tamago: there's a floor in there that they just don't let anyone stay on overnight... too many ghostly encounters, apparently.

    @Aimee: I've had no problem going in, but it's still unsettling.

    @VP: thank you!

    @Grace: she comes by it honestly!

    @EG: it hasn't.

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  12. A very impressive memorial to him.

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  13. That's quite a story you've retraced for us today.

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  14. We have a rich and interesting history. I'm afraid my emphasis is on western history. I'm going to have to take a look at national history.

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  15. It's interesting and a bit scary why some people feel they have to make things right by killing their opponents. And I'd stay well clear of that old building!

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  16. I'm not up on a lot of history. I've always been more interested in the future than I was in the past.

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  17. Seems to be the way of the world even now.

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  18. @Sharon: there are a handful of these statues on the Hill I haven't photographed as of yet, including a brand new one.

    @Birdman: a pleasure to do so.

    @Tex: I've always thought so.

    @Red: history fascinates me.

    @Lowell: the movement at the time really constituted a terrorist threat to the country, but many people don't even know about it.

    @Norma: I can't get enough of history.

    @Judy: unfortunately it does.

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  19. Interesting history and beautiful photo, William !

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  20. Perhaps you need to take us there...

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  21. Such history going on there---well everywhere. Probably haunted I'm sure.
    MB

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  22. Interesting history, but at the same time very sad.

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  23. Thanks for this, William. If anyone is interested the book is Man in the Shadows by Gordon Henderson.

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  24. Interesting piece of history and a very nice memorial statue to keep his presence alive in Canadian history.

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  25. @Karl: thank you!

    @RedPat: thanks.

    @Ciel: oh, I will!

    @MB: with a few decades of guys being imprisoned there, it would have ghost stories!

    @Merisi: definitely. McGee was in the prime of life. Who knows what he might have accomplished?

    @Marleen: it certainly is.

    @Jackie: thanks for pointing it out. I'll be on the look out for the book.

    @Bill: it certainly is.

    @Tanya: I'm fond of them too.

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  26. You've really captured great places in Ottawa. My friend is working on a history of her home. Sir John lived there for 4 years. Very cool!

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  27. Fascinating history lesson and I have to agree with everyone who said they love a good ghost story!

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  28. I'd love to see the old gaol if you feel like going back with your camera!
    It's great to learn some Canadian history. Thank you. My history lessons rarely went far or in depth beyond U.S. borders.

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  29. @Jennifer: now that's history.

    @Beth: I've always enjoyed them.

    @Lois: thank you!

    @Kay: the old gaol is very close to downtown, actually. In the 1860s, it might have even had a clear view to Parliament Hill.

    @Randy: the views walking among the statues are spectacular. It's high ground up there.

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  30. Great to hear these snippets from your history William .... it would be interesting to read the book "Man in the Shadows" mentioned earlier.

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  31. I love that you get to take all these photos. So fun.

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  32. Please forgive my shameless self-promotion, but my novel, MAN IN THE SHADOWS, which was published in July by HarperCollins, is about the assassination of D'Arcy McGee, Whelan's trial and a Fenian plot against Macdonald. It's in most bookstores and on line. www.gordonhenderson.ca

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  33. It seems passions incite murders in any century.

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  34. beautiful statue and interesting story

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  35. I bet that prison does have some interesting stories! And ghosts!

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