Why Did the Fenians Attack Canada?

Battle of Ridgeway C.W. (c. 1869) by Unknown Artist. A famous, yet inaccurate depiction of the battle, as it was fought in a modern skirmish style (fighting and hiding behind cover), not in a Napoleonic line format. [Source]

Continuing our look at ridiculous events in Canadian history: The Fenian Raids. You know, that time Irish-Americans invaded Canada to free Ireland from British rule.

People were probably just as confused back then at this turn of events as they are now. Despite the fact that the Fenian Raids (1866-1871) all ended in failure, their history is tied up with that of Canadian Confederation. This post looks at the historical context and the myths surrounding the consequences of the Fenian Raids, as well as what exactly happened. Continue reading


The Rise and Fall of Prohibition in Canada (Part Two)

A Toronto man doesn’t give a damn as he carries a keg of beer down a street in broad daylight during the Prohibition era (Sept 16, 1916). [Source: LAC]

Whereas part one looked at the rise of the temperance movement in Canada, part two will cover the prohibition era and its downfall. Prohibition barely lasted a decade in most provinces and its existence was plagued by problems. Why? The ban on booze created a situation where organized crime thrived and access to alcohol was relatively easy. Moreover, the violence, rum-running, and smuggling continued even after the provincial bans on alcohol were repealed because prohibition was still going on south of the border. Why was prohibition such a massive failure in Canada and what were the wider, long-lasting consequences? Continue reading

The Rise and Fall of Prohibition in Canada (Part One)

Tree of Intemperance by Archibald Macbrair (c. 1855) – This is an American cartoon, but I think it best sums up the temperance movement. To supporters, alcohol was the root of social and moral evils.

Continuing our look into ridiculous events in Canadian history: Prohibition. The banning of alcohol has a bit of a convoluted history in Canada. Unlike in the United States were the Volstead Act was a federal bill that banned alcohol nationwide from 1920-1933, prohibition was a matter largely left up to the Canadian provinces and therefore happened stages and at different times. By-and-large, the provinces instituted the ban during World War One and repealed it during the 1920s (minus a few exceptions) because not only was prohibition a major failure, it was vastly unpopular. It wasn’t always that way though. Before we get to the “fall” aka speakeasies, rum-running, and all that fun stuff, we have to cover the “rise.” This post will look at how prohibition came to be in Canada. Continue reading

Murder By…Plane? What?!

Continuing our look at ridiculous events in Canadian history, this week we will look at one of the worst cases of mass murder in Canadian history, which took place in 1949.

Joseph-Albert Guay, more commonly known as Albert Guay, was born in Quebec in 1917. A jewelry and watch salesman, he met and married Rita Morel during World War II. Their marriage was perfectly fine until they had a baby. Reportedly, Guay resented that Rita’s attention was now directed towards their child and not him. Around the same time, his jewelry business began to fail and Guay wracked up a significant amount of debt. So how does one solve this situation? By starting up an affair of course! Continue reading

Lacrosse as a Trojan Horse? The Fort Michilimackinac Massacre

Artistic depiction of the Fort Michilimackinac Massacre by Henry Sandham (1842-1910)

When drawing comparisons between Canada’s two national sports, lacrosse and hockey, popularity is a category that lacrosse will never beat hockey in. But how about violence? A lot has been said over the years about the violent nature of hockey, but a single hockey game has ever led to an actual massacre like lacrosse has? Continue reading