The first day of each month is a theme day for members of City Daily Photo. For the first of September, the theme is coming to us from a sarcastic rascal in the Great White North who insults idiot ex-brothers-in-law, marketing chimps, crack smoking ex-mayors, and fans of the Maple Leafs on a regular basis. Between us, he's a complete scoundrel, and... oh, wait, I'm the one who came up with this theme. Well now that's different. You can check out other interpretations of this theme here.
My choice was already in mind when I decided on this theme. For those who aren't regular readers, the Bytown Museum is a local museum along the Rideau Canal here in the city, where the Canal meets its start at the shores of the Ottawa River. I did several posts from around and inside the Museum earlier in August. The building dates back to 1827, having had been built as a storehouse for the work of the building of the Canal in the late 1820s-1830s.
One of the exhibits is my curiousity. It concerns itself with the assassination of Thomas D'Arcy McGee, a prominent Member of Parliament and Father of Confederation, in April 1868. You can read more about him here.
McGee was a friend of our first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald. In younger days he'd been a radical in the Irish nationalist movement. Moving to Canada, however, he ended up becoming a fiery and eloquent orator and writer, and a defender of constitutional monarchy. It was a political transformation that made him enemies.
One of them shot him in the street as he came home late at night from a session in the House of Commons to his boarding house on Sparks Street. Fenians- radical Irishmen eager to drive the British out of Ireland- were suspected. At the time a number of raids by Irish American veterans of the Civil War were being made, with the intention of using Canada as ransom to force the British out. McGee, having had changed his outlook, was seen as the enemy.
A man named Patrick James Whelan was arrested, put on trial, and convicted- later hung at the old jail here in the city. There's always been some doubt as to if he was the assassin. There's a rather good novel recently written by Gordon Henderson, called Man In The Shadows, which uses the case as its backdrop. Items about the McGee assassination reside here in the Bytown Museum, which may be a local museum, but being in a capital city, the story of the nation influences its collection.
One of those items is this plaster cast. It is the death hand of McGee. In the Victorian era, it was common to create a death mask of the deceased. McGee, who was shot in the head from behind, had facial damage that rendered that impossible, and so this was the solution. Having it around as an artifact seems to be a curiousity to me. Strangely, I took around ten shots of the hand directly- this was the only one of them that came out decently enough to use in a post. This is the first time I have ever had this happen with photos- perhaps there is something to the story that the Museum is haunted.
At least the display description directly above it came out clear. Odd that photographing the hand itself would be such a problem.