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Thomas D'Arcy McGee (1825-1868) was one of the most important figures in the building of Canada, which was created in 1867. He was a Founder of Confederation, an Irish Patriot, an opponent of the Fenian movement and a believer in the
self-determination of new countries. McGee was murdered on Sparks Street in Ottawa, Ontario in 1868. Timothy Patrick Whelan, a known Fenian sympathiser, descended on Sparks Street in the late hours and waited for McGee to emerge. McGee was attending
to government business and in the early morning hours, Whelan set foot on the cobble stone streets: in a matter of moments, one of Canada's most important political figures was murdered.
Immediately upon his murder, there was an anti-Irish back-lash which could be felt all the way to the U.S. and Ireland. McGee was considered to be among the noble Irishmen in Canada, and projected a positive image for many of Canadian-Irish to
emulate. A short while later, Whelan was apprehended and was taken to the County Gaol to await trial. In the days which ensued, what he didn't know was that Andrew Cullinan (1836-1905) was sitting in the next cell. Cullinan was Chief Detective of
Montreal and was called to Ottawa to investigate this notorious murder; Cullinan was also fluent in gaelic, and listened quietly as Whelan began to spell out the details of the murder to some of his friends, who were also arrested. Cullinan's
testimony was among the unmitigating factors which lead to the public hanging of Timothy Patrick Whelan--which was also the last public hanging in Canada. The Gaol house now houses an International Youth Hostel.
Above is the tomb of Thomas D'Arcy McGee, situated at Côte-des-Neiges Cemetery, on Mont-Royal in Montreal, Quebec. The tomb is approximately 200m from Cullinan's monument.
Michael S Cullinan -personal photograph collection.