This Week in History
Murder on Sparks Street
This story was initially published in 1999
April 13, 1868, was proclaimed a day of public mourning in Montréal for the funeral of Thomas D'Arcy McGee. Six days earlier McGee was shot from behind on his way home from Parliament in Ottawa. He was the first Canadian politician to be assassinated.
On the encouragement of the Irish community in Montréal, McGee moved his family there and entered politics. Representing Montréal West, McGee won election to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada in 1858. He was the Minister of Agriculture, Immigration and Statistics, becoming a member of the Canadian House of Commons after Confederation.
After the shooting, the mayor of Ottawa offered a $2000 reward for the capture of the unknown murderer. Although proclaiming his innocence, a suspected Fenian, Patrick Whelan, was hanged outside the county jail, now an Ottawa Youth Hostel. An extravagant funeral took place in Montréal for McGee on what would have been his 43rd birthday.
The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has recognized Thomas D'Arcy McGee. A plaque on Sparks Street and a statue on Parliament Hill commemorate McGee's importance in the formation of Canada.
- Date Modified: