Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for April 7th!
Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of the Fathers of Confederation, was assassinated in Ottawa, in the early morning of April 7, 1868. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada, looks at his career, and the assassination that shook the nation.
D’Arcy McGee, was born in Ireland, on April 13, 1825 and educated at a day-school in Wexford, Ireland. In 1842, he emigrated to America and became an editor with the Boston newspaper, the Boston Pilot.
In 1857 he moved from the United States to Montreal, Lower Canada, at the invitation of some leading Irish Canadians. One Canadian History for Kids Fact is how in Montreal, he founded a newspaper called the New Era, and in 1858 he was elected, as an Irish Roman Catholic, to the Legislative Assembly of Canada for Montreal West. From the moment of his arrival in Canada, he had preached the policy of “the new nationality”.
Even before he came to Canada, he had begun to get rid of many of his youthful anti-British ideas, and in Canada he became a loyal subject of the Crown. In 1866 he condemned the Irish-American Fenians who invaded Canada and in so doing he incurred the hate of the Fenian organization in the United States.
Another Canadian History for Kids Fact is that the ultimate goal of the Fenian raids was to hold Canada hostage and therefore be in a position to blackmail the United Kingdom to give Ireland its independence. D’Arcy McGee strongly opposed this organization.
On April 7, 1868, McGee attended a late-night session in the House of Commons, where he gave a passionate speech in favour of national unity. Returning home, he was shot and killed as he entered the door of his rooming house on Sparks Street in Ottawa. It is generally believed that McGee was the victim of a Fenian plot. However, Patrick James Whelan, who was convicted and hanged for the crime, was never accused of being a Fenian by the Crown prosecutor. McGee was given a state funeral.
His funeral procession in Montreal drew an estimated crowd of 80 000 (out of a total city population of 105 000). Another Canadian History for Kids fact is that the government of Canada’s Thomas D’Arcy McGee Building stands near the site of the assassination.
Patrick J. Whelan, a Fenian sympathizer and a Catholic, was accused, tried, convicted, and hanged for the crime on February 11, 1869, at Ottawa.
And that’s this week Canadian History for Kids Sketches of Canada!