Recommended Reading

Here are some books I recommend reading (if you can be bothered to read about Canada) mentioned in this blog and elsewhere.


(My favorite on this list) Black Ice by Darril & George Fosty.

“In 1895, The Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes was formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia … The Colored League would emerge as a premier force in Canadian hockey and supply the resilience necessary to preserve a unique culture which exists to this day. Unfortunately their contributions were conveniently ignored, or simply stolen, as white teams and hockey officials, influenced by the black league, copied elements of the black style or sought to take self-credit for black hockey innovations. Black Ice is the first written record of the Colored Hockey League in the Maritimes.”

This book is about so much more than hockey: the Maritimes, slavery and Black history in Canada, and interesting, worthwhile people.


Keeping Canada British: The Ku Klux Klan in 1920’s Saskatchewan by James M. Pistula.

“The Ku Klux Klan had its origins in the American South. It was suppressed but rose again in the 1920s, spreading into Canada, especially Saskatchewan. This book offers a new interpretation for the appeal of the Klan in 1920s Saskatchewan. It argues that the Klan should not be portrayed merely as an irrational outburst of intolerance but as a populist aftershock of the Great War – and a slightly more extreme version of mainstream opinion that wanted to keep Canada British. Through its meticulous exploration of a controversial issue central to the history of Saskatchewan and the formation of national identity, this book shines light upon a dark corner of Canada’s past.”

It can be a bit of a dry read at times, and the bumbling characters of Saskatchewan aren’t too exciting, but it’s educational regarding Canadian racism and the Klan.


Canada’s Forgotten Slaves: Two Hundred Years of Bondage by Marcel Trudel and George Tombs.

“… By painstakingly combing through unpublished archival records of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Marcel Trudel gives a human face to the over 4,000 Aboriginal and Black slaves bought, sold and exploited in colonial Canada. He reveals the identities of the slave owners, who ranged from governors, seigneurs, and military officers to bishops, priests, nuns, judges, and merchants. Trudel describes the plight of slaves–the joys and sorrows of their daily existence. Trudel also recounts how some slaves struggled to gain their liberty. He documents Canadian politicians, historians and ecclesiastics who deliberately falsified the record, glorifying their own colonial-era heroes, in order to remove any trace of the thousands of Aboriginal and Black slaves held in bondage for two centuries in Canada.”

An eye-opening history of slavery in Canada and the best place to start on the subject.


Murder City: The Untold Story of Canada’s Serial Killer Capital, 1959-1984 by Michael Arntfield.

” … From the earliest documented case of homicidal copycatting in Canada, to the fact that at any given time up to six serial killers were operating at once in the deceivingly serene “Forest City,” London was once a place that on the surface presented a veneer of normality when beneath that surface dark things would whisper and stir. Through it all, a lone detective would go on to spend the rest of his life fighting against impossible odds to protect the city against a tidal wave of violence that few ever saw coming, and which to this day even fewer choose to remember… Murder City is an explosive book over fifty years in the making, and is the history of London, Ontario as never told before. Stranger than fiction, tragic, ironic, horrifying, yet also inspiring, this is the true story of one city under siege, and a book that marks a game changer for the true crime genre.”

There’s a lot of information here and it does jump around a bit. It’s a horrifying, disturbing look at serial killers and unsolved crime in Canada.


Loss of Faith: How The Air India Bombers Got Away With Murder by Kim Bolan.

“On June 23, 1985, Canada found itself on the international terrorism map when two bombs built in B.C. detonated within an hour of each other on opposite sides of the world, killing 329 men, women, and children… When charges were finally laid against three Sikh separatists, the families believed justice was almost theirs. But their faith was shaken when one suspect pleaded guilty to manslaughter and got a five-year sentence for more than three hundred deaths.”

A disturbing look at terrorism in Canada and the men who got away with mass murder. It’s difficult to read about the incompetence of Canadian law enforcement and its judicial system.


The Hanging of Angelique by Afua Cooper.

“Writer, historian and poet Afua Cooper tells the astonishing story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave woman convicted of starting a fire that destroyed a large part of Montréal in April 1734 and condemned to die a brutal death. In a powerful retelling of Angélique’s story—now supported by archival illustrations—Cooper builds on 15 years of research to shed new light on a rebellious Portuguese-born black woman who refused to accept her indentured servitude. At the same time, Cooper completely demolishes the myth of a benign, slave-free Canada, revealing a damning 200- year-old record of legally and culturally endorsed slavery.”

This book is not just the story of one condemned slave, but a sweeping history of slavery and early Canada.


This list will be updated periodically.

Remember When? … #hangingofangelique

Remember When is a new series of posts where we take a look back at some of the funny, bizarre and downright disturbing incidents in Canada’s past.

Since cakers like to judge everyone else (particularly Americans) and point out their historic wrong-doings, it’s time to take a mirror to these incompetent hypocrites. Enjoy!


Marie-Joseph Angelique

Marie was a badass forgotten by virtually everyone in Canada until only recently; remembered vaguely by a few historians and celebrated as a figure of Black resistance by Canada’s Black population (at less than 3%).

She was born in 1705 in Portugal, enslaved and later brought to North America. After arriving in New England she was purchased by a Montreal man, who brought her back to his hometown to work as his slave. After he died, Marie-Joseph carried on in service to his widow who gave her the name “Angelique”. She took a white indentured laborer named Claude Thibault as her lover.

She asked her owner for freedom and was denied, so she started raising hell: talking back, threatening death, fighting with other servants and claiming she’d burn shit down. Being a nuisance, she was sold to a Quebec City man in exchange for 600 pounds of gun powder. But before she could be relocated she set fire to her bed and ran away with Thibault. They were caught and returned.

One evening a portion of Montreal caught fire and Angelique was blamed for setting it.

“Angélique was accused of starting the fire and arrested by police on 11 April. She was taken to court the following morning, where she was charged with arson, a capital crime punishable by death, torture or banishment.

In the French legal system of the 18th century, the accused was presumed guilty, and in New France, there were no trials by jury, only inquisitorial tribunals in which the defendant was meant to prove her innocence. Lawyers were banned from practicing in the colony by Louis XIV.”

She was brought before the tribunal where witnesses testified she’d previously threatened to burn things. After six weeks she was found guilty and sentenced to death.

She was to have her hands cut off and be burned alive. The sentence was appealed to the superior court in Québec City, where the death penalty was upheld and the gruesome aspects of the sentencing lessened. Angélique would be tortured, hanged, and then her body burned. She returned to Montréal to await her death.

In June of 1734, the twenty-nine year old woman was tortured in her jail cell. She broke down and “confessed” to the crime but refused to name her lover as a co-conspirator. Afterwards she was taken by garbage cart to the down town church, forced to make a public apology and beg for forgiveness; she was then hanged.

Slavery would last for over 200 years in Canada, its history intentionally hidden and forgotten for generations. If there is one person who puts a face, name, and story to all the Blacks who were enslaved, it is Marie-Joseph Angelique. She did not roll over and endure her slavery with resignation, but demanded her freedom and attempted to take it.


The Hanging of Angelique

“Writer, historian and poet Afua Cooper tells the astonishing story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave woman convicted of starting a fire that destroyed a large part of Montréal in April 1734 and condemned to die a brutal death.

In a powerful retelling of Angélique’s story—now supported by archival illustrations—Cooper builds on 15 years of research to shed new light on a rebellious Portuguese-born black woman who refused to accept her indentured servitude. At the same time, Cooper completely demolishes the myth of a benign, slave-free Canada, revealing a damning 200- year-old record of legally and culturally endorsed slavery.”


Of course in Canada we learn all about the crusty, old, racist white men who helped found this nation, but not the freedom-loving bad asses who tried to escape it!

Post Script:

The majority of the book provides historical context for Angelique’s time and the events which led up to it. Her story compromises the ending, and details are scarce due to minimal records. I’m glad that I know it. There is also a great list of slavery narratives in the epilogue (and an introduction to Fado music).

Remember When? … #airindiabombing

Remember When is a new series of posts where we take a look back at some of the funny, bizarre and downright disturbing incidents in Canada’s past.

Since cakers like to judge everyone else (particularly Americans) and point out their historic wrong-doings, it’s time to take a mirror to these incompetent hypocrites. Enjoy!


Loss of Faith: How The Air India Bombers Got Away With Murder

From Amazon:

“On June 23, 1985, Canada found itself on the international terrorism map when two bombs built in B.C. detonated within an hour of each other on opposite sides of the world, killing 329 men, women, and children.

Canadian Sikh separatists, upset at the Indian government for attacking their religion’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, were immediately suspected by the RCMP of perpetrating the worst act of aviation terrorism before Sept. 11, 2001. But while police agencies scrambled to infiltrate a close-knit immigrant community and collect evidence against the suspects, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was destroying taped telephone calls between the same people the RCMP was investigating.

For years those at the centre of the terrorist plot tried to protect their dark secret. Two Sikh newspaper publishers who overheard an alleged confession by one of the bombers were assassinated. Other potential witnesses were threatened and intimidated. Journalists who wrote about the suspects were targeted by death threats and harassment. The suspects founded charities and participated in political parties, attending fundraising dinners for premiers and prime ministers. And the families of the victims fought to be recognized for their unimaginable loss as the result of an act of terrorism plotted in Canada. When charges were finally laid against three Sikh separatists, the families believed justice was almost theirs. But their faith was shaken when one suspect pleaded guilty to manslaughter and got a five-year sentence for more than three hundred deaths.

The Air-India trial judge spoke in his ruling of the “the senseless horror” of the bombings. He called the plot “a diabolical act of terrorism” with “roots in fanaticism at its basest and most inhumane level.” He then acquitted Sikh leaders Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri on all charges, leaving the victims’ families reeling and the biggest case in Canadian history officially unsolved.

Kim Bolan is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered the Air-India bombing case since the day Flight 182 went down off the coast of Ireland. Her work on the Air-India story has taken her to Punjab five times over the last twenty years where she met with militant Sikh separatist leaders and victims of the violence. She also followed Air-India mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar to Pakistan before his 1992 slaying and chased down other suspects in England and across Canada. But she faced the most danger at home in Vancouver where the stories she uncovered about the Air-India case led to a series of death threats against her.”


Terrorists? Bombings? Destroying evidence and tapes? Assassinations? Murderers rubbing shoulders with politicians? A five year sentence for killing hundreds of people? Wow, this is India – right? Nope this is good ol’ British Columbia, Canada!

(Welcome to B.C. … also known as Bring Cash or Be Corrupt.)


So why don’t Canadians ever discuss the Air India Bombing? Why do they know so little about it? Why doesn’t anyone care? Questions asked by a piece in The Tyee:

“All 329 people on board Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, 33 years ago today, were killed, including 280 citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

They were lost to a bomb that exploded while their plane was in Irish airspace, en route from Canada to India. The bomb had been planted in Canada in an act of terror planned by extremists allegedly advocating for a separate Sikh state in the Punjab.

It was Canada’s worst mass murder, yet it is barely remembered in this country.

Today, Canadians commonly regard the bombing as an Indian tragedy, or at most an Indo-Canadian tragedy. They typically dwell on the terrorism, but rarely on the grief and hardship of fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, children, friends and neighbours left behind.

Why hasn’t this tragedy claimed a prominent place in Canadian history and public memory? Some now call it Canada’s 9/11, but until the attack in New York City some 16 years later, they didn’t call it much at all.

The Canadian families of the dead wonder year after year why no one but them seems to care, or why their grief is seen as less worthy than that of others who are more openly taken into the nation’s heart.

The answer is simple: Canada hides from the truth. No doubt racism is involved (they’re less “Canadian” being brown or immigrants) but much more than that – Canada never acknowledges its corruption, rot, or hypocrisy. To do so would involve honesty and then efforts to change … Canadians prefer to ignore, whitewash or deny. Ignoring facts is easy, action is difficult.


The controversy would rear its ugly head again with the election of Jagmeet Singh as NDP leader. He was asked questions about one of the suspects (considered a leader in the conspiracy but never found guilty due to insufficient evidence) and in typical Canadian style there were no straight answers, whining about “racism” and absolutely nothing constructive accomplished or discovered.

From The Georgia Straight:

“Not long after Jagmeet Singh was elected NDP leader, he sat down for an interview with the CBC’s Terry Milewski in early October….

Given Milewski’s history covering this story, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that he asked the new NDP leader if he would denounce Parmar—who’s been glorified as a Sikh martyr at the Dasmesh Darbar gurdwara in Surrey.

Singh, a baptized Sikh who wears a turban, replied that “we need to make sure that the investigation results in a conviction of someone who is actually responsible”.

And for a few days, there was a media and social-media firestorm over Milewski’s question, Singh’s answer, and the CBC journalist’s subsequent tweet…

Critics of Milewski said he would never ask this question of a white political leader. Singh himself called the question “offensive”, saying any Canadian would denounce anyone held responsible for terrorism.

Milewski’s defenders, on the other hand, said it was a legitimate question to ask of a man who wanted to become prime minister…


… Then there’s Jagmeet Singh, a trained criminal defence lawyer who says he would like to see convictions before commenting on who’s responsible. And as long as Singh maintains this position, he can expect to be roasted periodically by those who utterly reject that proposition and insist that it’s been proven that Parmar was the mastermind.

The Air India bombing occurred more than 30 years ago and at this stage, it appears unlikely that anyone else will be charged.

But it still has the potential to play a role in the 2019 federal election. This is particularly true if Singh’s point of view comes under criticism from his Liberal and Conservative opponents, senior Canadian journalists, former B.C. premier Dosanjh, and relatives of deceased passengers.

The Air India bombing still matters for a multitude of reasons, especially for the painful losses endured by so many Canadian families. Many of them were appalled by Josephson’s court ruling in the case involving Malik and Bagri and these relatives likely won’t stay silent about a potential prime minister who refuses to condemn Parmar.”


Singh changed his tune after the backlash, from the CBC:

After having expressed some doubts, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said today he accepts the Air India inquiry’s conclusion that Talwinder Singh Parmar was the mastermind behind the deadly mid-air bombing that killed hundreds of Canadians — and he thinks it’s inappropriate for some Sikhs to glorify Parmar by displaying his photo.

Despite his more recent statement, there will now always be some who wonder if he harbors terrorist sympathies since he couldn’t simply spit this out at the beginning. Telling sign or rookie mistake?


Post Script:

It’s got everything one would expect: a belief that terrorism couldn’t happen in ‘magical Canada’, and incompetence by CSIS and the RCMP. (In fairness to CSIS it was a new organization, nonetheless it’s doubtful results would have been different otherwise.)

As you reach the middle of the book it gets to be a slog reading about these odious thugs terrorizing the community, murdering people, and scamming the government out of millions of dollars. Towards the end it’s also difficult to read about them getting away with mass murder.

This has all the hallmarks of a classic Canadian story: racism, incompetence, corruption, and of course no change or improvement after thirty years. Did anyone expect anything less?

Comment: The Handmaid’s Tale & Canada

I’ve just finished watching the first season of the series The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s based on the dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The series greatly improves on the novel by fleshing out the material a little better and expanding on the original idea.

I was greatly amused but not at all surprised to see Canada portrayed as “paradise north” in the show. Canada is the great “escape” for citizens of the nation of Gilead (formerly the USA): a violent theocracy which came to power after birth rates plummeted and procreation became a rarity. Citizens attempt to escape to Canada “the land of the free”.


Thoughts:


Fleeing north is somewhat reminiscent of southern slaves and the Underground Railroad. What’s ironic about this however is the fact Canada also had slavery which was only abolished due to British law and was the consequence of being a British colony. While it’s true that Canada’s slavery never reached the same level as the U.S., as we now know this was only due to the wretched poverty of Canada’s poor laborers and its relative poverty to the wealthier United States. Canada also practiced slavery with Aboriginals (something which also happened to a limited degree in the U.S.).

Other comparisons can be made: African Americans in the U.S. were legally guaranteed the right to vote in 1965; Status Indians in Canada were able to vote in 1960. The Inuit are generally accepted as having legitimately ‘gained the right to vote’ in 1962. (source)


In 1920, women in the U.S. were given the right to vote (the 19th Amendment). Twelve states held out on ratifying the amendment, dragging it out for decades more. Prior to the amendment 18 states had granted women the right to vote.


In Canada, women’s right to vote varied by province: the first province to grant voting rights was Manitoba in 1916; the last province would be Quebec in 1940. (source)


The closer one looks at these neighboring nations the more one begins to glimpse the parallels. Far from being ethically superior, Canada begins to look disturbingly similar to America. Lean in closer to observe the historical and legal cracks in its claims to higher enlightenment.


In the USA, women’s rights to abortion varied by state prior to 1973. A federal law (Roe vs Wade) came into effect that year guaranteeing national rights, brought on by a plaintiff from Texas. Abortion only became fully legal in Canada in 1988. Previously the Criminal Code had been amended (1969) to allow abortion if a woman’s life was in danger or a board of doctors signed off. In 1990, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney attempted to criminalize abortion again, but failed. Accessibility to abortion services tended to vary by province, and abortion wasn’t available in the province of Prince Edward Island until 2016.


I will briefly mention there have been some differences in religious beliefs and movements between the USA and Canada – a topic I will leave for another post.


Religious fervor versus wimps:


Reflecting on the matter, despite more fundamentalism in the United States – I believe Canada is a far more likely candidate for a dystopian theocracy than the U.S. First there are the numbers: 35 million inhabitants being far easier to dominate and control than 320 million. Second, is the geography: Americans being spread out over a vast terrain of diverse lands, while nearly all Canadians live grouped together along the southern border in limited regions.


Third, Americans have the right to self-defense enshrined into their constitution through the Second Amendment which says in part … “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” and which was upheld by the Supreme Court, guaranteeing Americans the fundamental right to bear arms for protection.


In the United States there are an estimated 270 million guns, conservatively. It’s believed just over roughly a third of citizens own a firearm. (source) That’s approximately 96 MILLION individuals who own firearms.


The United States is often lambasted for its internal divisions, but in this case it may be a blessing in disguise. The country tends to be very divided politically: mainly between Republicans and Democrats; each group fiercely unapologetic about its beliefs. It also tends to be divided socially: between the more conservative religious base, and the liberal-progressives. If a theocracy or autocratic regime were to attempt to establish itself, then roughly half the nation would oppose it – creating a momentous civil war.


In order to establish dominance, a regime would have to resort to destruction on an unprecedented scale (which is simpler in theory than action). For example, take the guerrilla warfare well known in other areas: Ireland, South America, Israel and Palestine, to name but a few. Hold out factions of rebels, criminals or other groups can last decades; Afghanistan comes to mind.


Meanwhile in Canada, residents aren’t even supposed to have pepper spray. Guns mainly belong to law enforcement, hunters and farmers, while the words “self defense” induce liberal gasps of horror among the self-proclaimed intelligentsia. Canadians can hardly run a bath, let alone a rebellion.


And so the two nations carry on along their parallel paths, but Canadians lack Americans’ rights to self defense, bearing arms, free speech; not to mention their combativeness, blunt honesty and rebellious nature. Canadians still have MONARCHY in the 21st century – something Americans abolished two centuries ago!


If anybody is going to live under the thumb of lunatics, it will be Canadians far before Americans, in my humble opinion.


Post Script: I gave up on this show.



Canada’s Forgotten Slaves: Two Hundred Years of Bondage

To help elaborate on the topic of slavery in Canada, I am quoting some excerpts from Marcel Trudel’s book ‘Canada’s Forgotten Slaves: Two Hundred Years of Bondage’. It’s an interesting book and worth reading. (The topic has been virtually ignored and suppressed in Canada.)

Points to note:

Between 1632 and 1834 there were over 4000 slaves in New France/Canada. They were both black and aboriginal. A black was worth 900 livres, and an Amerindian slave worth 400 livres. There were more Amerindian slaves than blacks: this tended to be because they were cheaper, which was in part a result of the fact they were nearby and easier to obtain. (Amerindian slaves were known as ‘Panis’ – a generic term to describe a slave of any tribe.)

Slavery here never reached the heights of the southern colonies or Caribbean – but not through lack of effort. Citizens attempted to import shipments of slaves but were prevented by wars, transportation costs, company changes and a lack of interest from slavers.

While slavery was an economic imperative for southern colonies, slavery here had no real economic basis and was merely a status symbol, conveying wealth and prestige. While attempts to ship slaves were requested for “cost effective” measures, and assistance in “working the land” (agriculture), in fact very few slaves were rural and most existed in the city, purchased by the upper classes.

Timeline:

The slavery timeline begins in ‘New France’ (a colony of France), and continues under the British military regime (after the conquest of 1760). It carries on in the province of Quebec (1774-1791) and Lower Canada (1791 – 1834).


Introduction

“Canadians have long seen slavery in terms, above all, of the Underground Railway, that clandestine network of forest and waterside paths by which Quakers, black freedmen and other human rights advocates smuggled runaway American slaves northwards to liberty in the early nineteenth century. As many as a hundred thousand slaves escaped to Canada. But for some strange reason, while congratulating Canadians for offering refuge to these fugitives, generations of historians maintained a virtual conspiracy of silence about slaves owned and exploited, bought and sold, by Canadians themselves.”

p 7

“… when did slavery begin here? The first slaves were few and far between, and the practice of slave-holding only became a common practice starting in the 1680s. A few individual slaves appeared first of all. Gradually servitude became a recognized institution in the society of New France, and it remained so up to the first quarter of the nineteenth century.”

p 15

“The first slave we can positively identify in New France was a Negro boy brought here by David Kirke in 1629 … ” 

p 15, 16

 “When the Negro Olivier Le Jeune died in 1654, we believe he was the only one of his kind in Canada, and the next black slave only turned up a quarter of a century later. Elsewhere in the Americas, however, slave traders preyed on native Amerindians…”

p 18

This was ‘justified’ by the fact that Native American tribes practiced slavery themselves, by taking war captives.

“But starting in 1671, the French settlers of Canada began to acquire Amerindian slaves. It is true that once the French acquired these Amerindians, they do not always seem to have formally regarded them as slaves. What matters is that these slaves were given to the French as slaves, and that the French accepted them as such, at least for a time.”

p 21

The first two Amerindian slaves to come to Quebec were Pottawatomie girls in 1671,  who were later given to nuns and raised. Some would come from as far as Mississippi. (p 22, 23)

“Trafficking of Amerindian slaves truly began in earnest in 1687: it was on a modest scale at first, but then became more and more generalized and continued until the early nineteenth century.   

… How long had these slaves been living among the French? It is impossible to say. It is clear however that they only appeared in the civil registry after arriving in the colony. The Panis Louis, for example, must have been living in French society for a fairly long time because he could not be confirmed before learning adequate French as well as the catechism.   

By the end of the seventeenth century, Amerindian slaves turn up almost each year in historical records.”

p 23, 24

“If we bring together a list of the Amerindian slaves who lived among the French population at the end of the seventeenth century, we find twenty-nine Amerindian slaves over a twenty-nine year period …

Our list of seventeenth-century slave owners in Canada thus includes colonial officials, military officers, explorers and fur traders: indeed, these are the key groups that defined the heyday of slave-owning, and they were also the groups most intimately involved with Native Amerindian nations.  

We are talking about slaves. Aside from men, women, and children explicitly identified as slaves or said to belong to an owner, it is not certain that the other Amerindians who entered New France as slaves actually appear as such in historical documents.”

p 26

“For example, before 1790, when Intendant Raudot intervened to provide a legal basis for slavery, civil registries rarely used the word “slave”; in the fifteen civil acts of this period relating to slaves, only one directly used the word “slave” … This was the first time prior to 1700 that civil registries used the word slave; up till then, those maintaining records had usually written “savage belonging to …” a specific free person.”

p 27, 28


“Give Us Negroes!”  (Chapter One)

“Blacks were needed to harvest sugar cane in the Carribbean, and the labour supply argument was also put forward in Canada. In 1688, the governor of New France Brisay de Denonville and Intendant Bochart de Champigny wrote to the king that workers and servants were so hard to find in the colony, and so expensive, that they ruined anyone engaged in any enterprise: the best way to remedy this situation would be to introduce black slaves.”

p 29

In 1689 the king would grant authorization for slave shipments, but wrote of his concerns about blacks and their sustainability in the “climate” of Canada.

On May 17, 1689 war broke out between France and England. Under the League of Augsburg, [a coalition of countries and colonies against France and Louis XIV] slaves could only be sent to Quebec from trading posts in Guinea when the war was over. (p 33)

The war would last eight years, preventing black slaves from coming to Canada; only four are confirmed during that period.

“With the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, the war came to an end after eight long years. Did this mean prospective slave owners could finally take advantage of the royal authorization granted in 1689? The next mention in the royal mail of the problem of sending blacks to Canada was in 1701 … “His Majesty has no objection to granting the people of Canada permission to own Blacks, but as the only way to effect this is to bring in a ship laden with Blacks, they must give assurances they will pay the costs of transportation…”

p 34

“To minimize any losses, it had to be made clear first of all whether Canadians were actually in a position to pay for goods from abroad, and the authorities of New France had to ensure “that precautions are taken to make this happen.” There was no question of a ship bearing Negroes to Quebec for the time being. In any case, war broke out again … This incurred further delays, and it would be eleven years before a new peace treaty was signed.”

p 34

“Given the uncertain supply of black slaves, prospective owners naturally turned to Amerindians, who continued arriving in the country as slaves, slowly at first, but then at an even greater pace from 1700 …  

Amerindian slavery stood at a relatively high level from 1710 onwards, largely because of an ordinance issued by Intendant Raudot in 1709, to the effect that people who bought Panis and blacks as slaves owned them outright. Given the proximity to the Amerindian slave market, this ordinance was likely to encourage people who needed slaves, but it could do nothing for the prospective owners who preferred blacks. Canadians who preferred ebony slaves had to wait till the war was over: added delays came when metropolitan authorities in France had to figure out how to ship slaves to Quebec.” 

p 35, 36

Generally speaking, most average citizens couldn’t afford slaves personally, or the colony as a whole to pay for shipments outright. 

“Taking up the same arguments that had worked in the past, he wrote: “There are few inhabitants in Canada, and many enterprises suffer from the difficulty of finding workers and day laborers whose wages are excessively high.” Importing blacks would “lead to an increase in the colony and its trade.” Why not use this resource profitably, the way the English colonies did? …  

Word from the French government came back: “it does not seem appropriate at present to send Negroes to Canada.” … it is worth noting that the government refused to send a shipment of blacks to Canada, while continuing to allow Canadians to own slaves.”

p 38

The Regent demanded full payment from Canadians before any slaves were sent. Intendant Begon then compiled a list of proposed purchasers and their requests. He continued to urge for black slaves citing many reasons, including: working the land, as well as caring for widows and the elderly.

Begon submitted his arguments in January 1721, and a shipment of black slaves was agreed to. The shipment was postponed for a year, and then never fulfilled (due to the company’s loss of its monopoly among other factors). (p 38 – 41)

Despite receiving authorizations in 1689, 1701, and 1721, no slave shipment could be bothered to make the longer and more expensive trip to Quebec, so the wholesale buying of black slaves was avoided. (p 42)


Legalization  (Chapter Two)

Prior to 1709, there was no document outlining the legality of slavery.

“However, starting in 1689, owners of blacks could rest easy: Louis XIV had authorized Canadians to import blacks for the purposes of working and clearing the land. This royal authorization served as a guarantee of ownership of blacks, but could not be applied to Amerindians held in bondage, even though most slaves in New France were actually Amerindians.”

p 44

On April 13, 1709 – Intendant Raudot issued an ordinance, which included in part:

“We, at His Majesty’s pleasure, order that all Panis and Negroes who have been bought and who shall be bought hereafter shall belong in full ownership to those who bought them as their slaves; and we hereby forbid the said Panis and Negroes to leave their masters, and anyone else to tempt them away, under a penalty of a fine of fifty livres.”

p 46

The tribes allied with the French (Algonquins, Montagnais, Abenakis, Iroquois) were left alone and for the most part not seized as slaves.

In 1733 a civil lawsuit brought up a dispute: a slave had been obtained as ‘payment’ for owed debts; the first owner argued that as his slave had been baptized the seizure of a “Christian” was unlawful, but the judge ruled against him and upheld the sale. (p 48, 49)

The King was petitioned to clarify statutes on Amerindian slaves, but refused to do so, simply recommending that colonists follow “customary practice”. This seems to have been a way to sidestep delicate issues regarding alliances with certain Amerindian tribes; and France’s hopes for further expansion and cooperation.  (p 50, 51)

When contacted regarding the sale of Amerindian slaves outside the colony (to the Carribean for example), Intendant Raudot decided they could not be transported elsewhere, since their slavery was to “benefit” the colony itself. (p 52)

However this ordinance was ignored, and slaves that proved troublesome or were needed for cash were in fact sent to the Caribbean. Amerindians particularly were noted for running away and being disobedient.

“This practice of sending slaves of unhappy masters to the Carribbean became so popular that… proposed to the king that it be done systemically.   

… In 1747, Canadian authorities therefore proposed to the king that owners should not keep these Amerindians beyond the age of sixteen or seventeen years, after which they should be sold in the Caribbean, where they obviously had no means of escape.”

p 54

There is no further record regarding the matter; no formal dictates, it was simply done in practice. Some slaves were transported to France, where they could legally be brought over on certain conditions, despite slavery being “illegal” in the country itself (while legal in its colonies).

According to English and French custom: “A black is a slave wherever he may be found.” Black slaves could not be “free” in France or its colonies, nor having fled from another nation, unless they had been formally emancipated. (p 56, 57)

So while slavery was illegal in France, slaves could be sent there or could travel there with their masters, provided they were from the colonies. Slaves which escaped to France hoping for emancipation by reaching it, were not entitled to their freedom by virtue of living in the country proper. 

After the British takeover:

“When the Articles of Capitulation were signed in Montreal in September 1760, they reasserted the legal character of Amerindian and black slavery, and extended it under British rule. Governor Vaudreuil-Cavagnial made a special request relating to slavery which became Article 47:   

The Negroes and Panis of both sexes shall remain in their qualify of slaves in the possession of the French and Canadians to whom they belong; they shall be at liberty to keep them in their service in the colony or to sell them; and they may also continue to bring them up in the Roman Religion.  

… And so the institution of slavery in Canada was first recognized and amply protected by French law, and was then extended under the British regime by another statute, the Articles of Capitulation of 1760.”

p 57

Nearly 4200 Slaves in Quebec  (Chapter Three)

The author had issues with finding full records and documentation. His slave sourcing came from Catholic and Protestant records: civil registries, patient and death records, census roles, notarial records, wills, inventories, etc. They counted only the slaves they could formally confirm, 2700 of which were Amerindians, and 1443 blacks.

“But of 4200 slaves, we found that only 456 Amerindians and 228 blacks were either indicated as slaves or were subject to a commercial transaction. In Quebec, people were reluctant to use the term “slavery” although the reality was there for all to see. The priest making entries in the civil registry hesitated to use the word “slave” or could not be bothered to use it. We repeatedly found cases where an Amerindian or black was baptized and had been acquired by purchase, but was nonetheless still not specifically referred to as a slave. In most cases, the record-keeper merely noted that a given Amerindian or black belonged to a given owner.”

p 61

“There had been petitions in New France calling for shiploads of black slaves, but nothing of the sort ever took place. Instead, black slaves were obtained in the Thirteen Colonies as war booty or through smuggling.”   

p 73

“The number of new slaves appearing in the historical record only begins to be significant after 1709, the year in which Intendant Raudot legalized slavery. Then, in the last two decades of French rule, the total number of slaves reached 400 and 500, due to the importance of the fur trade, which made it easier to acquire Amerindian slaves. With the decline of the fur trade, the number of Amerindian slaves then quickly fell off, whereas the number of blacks rose suddenly to well over 600 as Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution brought their black slaves up to Canada.”

p 76

“Of this grand total of 4185 slaves, 2683 Amerindians make up 65.1% or two-thirds of the 4124 slaves whose origins are known, whereas 1443 blacks account for 34.9% or just over a third.  

We are convinced that our seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Canadian ancestors had more slaves than the 4185 identified in the Dictionnaire. We say this because, from the eighteenth-century onwards, owners complained how hard it was to hold onto their Amerindian slaves; moreover, given that Amerindian slaves were often baptized later in life … it follows that many of these slaves died before being baptized and therefore do not appear in the civil registry.”

p 77


The Slave Market  (Chapter Four)

“There was practically an equal number of male and female slaves: males represented 1973 slaves (47.8%), while females represented 2151 slaves (52.2%). However, if we break down each of these two groups separately, the result is not so evenly matched. There were more women than men among Amerindian slaves (1543 or 57.7% were women), whereas there were fewer women than men among black slaves (608 or 42.2% were women).”

p 84

“Was there a public slave market in Canada the way there was in the Thirteen Colonies and Caribbean? And if there was such a market, was it in continuous operation, or only occasionally? The historical record does not enable us to provide a satisfactory answer to these questions …  

Public sales of slaves at auction definitely occurred in Canada. We only know of one such case under the French regime, when in 1733 the merchant … bought a Paducah on the market square … Several more public slave sales took place under the British regime. In Quebec City in 1778, Captain Thomas VEnture offered his mulatto slave Isabella at auction …”

p 90, 91

“Moreover, these public sales and auctions were regularly advertised in newspapers. Between 1767, when the first slave sale ad appeared, and 1798, when the last such ad came out, there were at least 137 advertisements for thirty different slaves…”

p 91

“It is clear that slaves were indeed put up for auction in Quebec and Montreal, and sold to the highest bidder. Slavery was legal in Canada, so why would slaves not have been sold at auction here, as they were in other colonies?  

We know of an oral tradition concerning the slave market. In his memoirs … Dandurand wrote: “I can state quite definitely that in my early childhood, a full-fledged slave market existed in Montreal…”

p 92

“The average Amerindian cost only 400 livres, whereas the average black cost 900. Another way of putting this is to say a black slave was worth twice as much as an Amerindian slave. This should come as no surprise, since New France was close to the market in “savages”, but far from the market in black ebony, and the additional cost of acquiring black slaves was passed on to the purchaser.”

p 97

While most owners were wealthy or relatively well off, some citizens went into debt to purchase slaves. 


Owners at All Levels of Society  (Chapter Five)

“Our history of slavery can conveniently be divided into two traditional periods, the French regime and the British regime.   

… Our study of Quebec slavery … has enabled us to establish that owners of French origin were the leading slave owners, given that they accounted for 2858 or 86.6% of all known owners. Even more significant is the fact that these slave owners of French origin owned 79.1% of all Amerindian slaves. Evidently, once the British settled in Quebec following the Conquest, it was much harder for them to acquire Amerindian slaves than it had been for the French prior to 1760, given the rapid decline of the fur trade.  

During the colonial period, French-speaking owners held almost all the Amerindian slaves we have identified in official records, and they even held 596 black slaves, far outnumbering the 301 black slaves held by English-speaking owners.” 

p 103, 104)

Slaves were held by the highest authorities of the French regime, and senior British officials. Generally speaking however, French Canadians had more slaves than British Canadians.

“It cost an average of 900 livres to buy a black slave, and 400 livres to buy an Amerindian one…” Merchants were leading slave owners, then military officers; other owners included physicians, surgeons, followed by notaries and then tradesmen.

“Printers also owned slaves. The first printers operating in Quebec were William Brown and Thomas Gilmore, who printed the Quebec Gazette: they owned black slaves, at least from 1767.  

… Fleury Mesplet had at least one black slave when he published the Gazette de Montreal (now the Montreal Gazette).”

p 110

Other owners included: bishops, priests, religious orders (including nuns) and the State itself.

“In fact, slavery in Quebec was not some economic imperative, but rather a form of public extravagance which conferred prestige on to members of high society but also on to all other levels of society indulging in it.”

p 118

The Living Conditions of Slaves  (Chapter Six)

In March 1685, Louis XIV issued an edict of sixty articles, the Code Noir, instructing on issues dealing with ‘the condition and quality’ of slaves. These included stipulations on marriage, religion, cohabitation, slave children, penalties and punishments, etc. One example:

“… the slave who has drawn the blood of his master, mistress or their children, shall be punished by death; slaves who assault free persons, and also some cases of robbery, shall be subject to severe penalties or even the death penalty. The fugitive slave shall have his ears cut off, and shall be branded with the fleur de lys on the shoulder; if he commits the same infraction a second time, he shall have his hamstring cut; the third time, he shall be put to death.”

p 121


The Code did have some “humane provisions” such as: demanding minimum living conditions, instruction in religion, families could not be separated by sale, and old slaves could not be abandoned.

The Code Noir was specifically written for the Caribbean, and later amended slightly to apply to Louisiana. No specific code was ever written for, or legally binding in Canada, although colonists followed the Code generally in most matters.

“As a result, we do not need to ask whether a slave owner was complying with a law of Canada, in granting a particular privilege to his slave, or in imposing a condition: in fact, no such law existed in Canada. It is interesting to note however that slave owners generally complied with provisions of the Code Noir of the Caribbean or Louisiana, even when not required to do so.”

p 122


Punishments in the colony appear to have been ‘lighter’ than suggested (by the Code) in most cases. Main punishments (confirmed) included: flogging, imprisonment, hanging, branding with fleur de lys, deportation to the galleys, and in the case of Marie-Joseph-Angelique – torture. This can be attributed to the relatively small percentage of slaves: limiting fear of an uprising or reprisals, which could take place in areas such as the Caribbean. (Chapter 8: p 161 – 178)

Some slaves were able to take part in civil cases and legal proceedings, since the Code Noir  was not followed to the letter or formally implemented. (Chapter 9: p 179-200)

Canadian men slept with both Amerindian and black female slaves, having many illegitimate children out of wedlock. Children of female slaves were automatically considered slaves, even when the father was a free man.

Slaves were allowed to marry, on the condition they had the permission of their owners. (Chapter 10: p 201 – 219)


Marriages (Chapter Eleven)

“Charlevoix noted that many white Canadian men had a pronounced liking for “savage women”, and while many such men were quite content to have sexual relations with “savage women”, some nonetheless felt the need to marry such women before God; some Amerindian men also formed permanent unions with white Canadian women.”

p 220

 In 1648, Jesuit Pierre de Semaisons recommended to the Pope that the men of New France be allowed to marry ‘savage women’:

“This will diminish the number of savages while increasing the number of Christians… These marriages will greatly promote the peopling of this great country where God is not [currently] well served, since French men will marry here, and will no longer return to France in order to take wives, which in turn hinders them shortly afterwards from coming back to the colony … These reasons seem pressing enough to incite His Holiness to allow the French who live in New France to marry savage girls …” 

p 220, 221


 The minister Colbert advocated a policy of mixing. In a letter to Intendant Talon in 1667:

“You have started to address this long-standing neglect, and you must try to attract these [Amerindian] people to those who have embraced Christianity in the vicinity of our homes, and if possible to mix them together so that over time, living under only one master and one system of law, they will form only one people and one blood.”

p 221

“But these marriages were not without serious drawbacks … French men were likelier to become “savage” than “savage” women to become French. Husbands had to be prevented from giving themselves up to the savage lifestyle …”

p 222


In 1706 Governor Vaudreuil ordered that French men be prevented from marrying Amerindian women:

“as he is convinced that bad blood should never be mixed with good, given the experience we have in this country, where all French men who married savage women have become lazy libertines, and unbearably independent, and the resulting children have proved just as lazy as the Amerindians themselves, and we must not allow these kinds of marriages to take place.”

p 223


Slaves Disappeared One by One  (Chapter Twelve)

“Already by 1787, it was clear owners feared the more or less imminent abolition of slavery. Was the Legislative Council of Quebec serious about abolishing slavery or was it only rumored to be concerned about the matter? We found no documentary evidence either in or before 1787 that would help answer this question… By 1787, there had been no public campaign in Quebec against slavery: newspapers were silent on the issue.”

p 233


In April 1791 a debate was held in the British House of Commons, but the majority of MPs voted against abolition. The next year on April 2, 1792 MPs in the House of Commons voted for gradual abolition of the slave trade.

“… but the Canadian press campaign was of an episodic character. Coverage depended on events taking place in Europe: the subject of slavery could disappear from the press for months, then suddenly regain importance before retreating from public view once again. We should note there was nothing original about the anti-slavery press campaign, nothing relating explicitly to slavery in Canada: newspapers reprinted the text of debates taking place in London as foreign news, without any accompanying comment relating these debates to the practice of slavery in Canada itself.”

p 235


On January 28, 1793  Pierre-Louis Panet asked to bring in a bill to abolish slavery in Lower Canada, which was approved, but later killed off by Debonne and McBeath.

“The vote on April 19, 1793 showed that a large majority of members of the House of Assembly favored maintaining slavery. Of these proponents of slavery, we know that at least twelve were then, or were about to become, slave owners …”

p 237

“The Consitutional Act of 1791 divided Canada into two distinct provinces: Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Upper Canada, which eventually became Ontario, was the first of these provinces to adopt legislation specifically on slavery…”

p 238


Upper Canada adopted The Act Against Slavery bill in 1793 ‘to prevent the importation of slaves to the province, and to determine the conditions needed to bring an end to slavery‘. Slaves already in the province would continue to be enslaved, and children of slave mothers would continue in enslavement until the age of twenty-five. Those born before the Act had passed would continue to be slaves indefinitely. (p 239)

“But the Act also had the longer-term effect of turning Upper Canada into a “land of liberty” for runaway slaves. Indeed, the Act of 1793 prohibited that any black or Indian slave entering the province of Upper Canada should be treated as a slave: as a result, any fugitive slave seeking asylum in the province would be released from bondage….  

Fugitive slaves reaching the province saw Upper Canada as an international place of refuge, but slaves already established before 1793 continued to toil in servitude.”

p 239, 240


Meanwhile in Lower Canada, the status quo continued. By 1794, a Court Justice in Montreal would set precedent by allowing runaway slaves seeking refuge to not be prosecuted or returned. “Still no law in Lower Canada explicitly prohibited slavery: existing legislation remained in force.” (p 244)


In April 1799, a group of Montrealers had Joseph Papineau (House Assembly member) put forth a petition on their behalf extolling the legality of slavery as according to French and British laws previously established. Since opinions varied by judge and citizen, they asked that a clear decision be applied: either the continuation of slavery, or formal abolition so that the legal limbo many found themselves in would be halted.

A second petition was put forth on April 18, 1800 which quoted the Raudot Ordinance of 1709 which was “never altered or repealed”. This resulted in the creation of a five member committee to oversee the matter. Yet nothing was accomplished and decisions were deferred several times.

“Indeed, after all these unsuccessful attempts to get the House of Assembly of Lower Canada to enact legislation on slavery, nothing further was done: after 1803 the question of slavery never appeared in the agenda of the House of Assembly. Ultimately, no Act specifically addressing the condition of slaves was ever adopted in Lower Canada.”

p 250

“Historical records indicate the presence of a few slaves every year until 1808, but then there is a gap of thirteen years until 1821, when the last historical document mentions an individual slave.”

p 251

“It is hard to say exactly how slavery ended in French Canada … Did the history of slavery in Lower Canada end because of a law enacted in Britain? On August 28, 1833, the British government voted to put an end to slavery throughout the British Empire. The Slavery Abolition Act came into force in 1834 …   

Were there any remaining slaves in Lower Canada to take advantage of this legal emancipation?”… 

It appears there were no Amerindian slaves left to be emancipated by this time, and very few blacks, many of whom were aged. And so:

“Suffice it to say that in Quebec, slavery withered away on its own, and no date can be assigned to its final disappearance.”

p 252, 253


Conclusion

“Throughout this work we have been dealing with a historical territory which does not quite occupy the same space as present-day Canada. Our study establishes that slavery had an official, legal existence over two centuries, that is between 1632 and 1834…  

However, slavery here remained on a relatively small scale… it was not until the last years of the seventeenth century that slave ownership in New France, whether Amerindians or blacks, became a regular feature of society …   

The original colonists of Quebec wanted to import massive numbers of black slaves into the colony…. No massive importation of black slaves took place, but Canadians were able to draw off a few black slaves while warring against the Thirteen Colonies, and to exploit increasing numbers of Amerindian slaves who were brought back from the Midwest to Montreal as a result of the fur trade.” 

p 254, 255

“Slavery was an economic imperative in colonies where sugar and tobacco were grown, whereas in French Canada no economic activity required the presence of slave labour..”

p 257

“How can slavery in Canada have been virtually forgotten? Historians are surely to blame, whether because they did not examine slavery or because they failed to even notice it. Despite the fact the historian Francois-Xavier Garneau was born in 1809, when slavery still existed in Lower Canada, he completely misinformed his readers about slavery … Garneau dug himself deeper into a hole by claiming that “the government and Canadian clergy should be honored for consistently opposing the introduction of Blacks into Canada.”

p 268, 269

Writing about slavery was nearly non-existent, aside from a handful of authors over a century. As a result:

“And yet, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the phenomenon of Quebec slavery seems still relatively unknown … Although we have put a lot of energy into establishing rigorous historical facts about slavery, we are still met with surprise and especially disbelief: “What! Do you mean slavery actually existed in Quebec?” … in point of fact, our colonial past can be likened to the Thirteen Colonies of America.

p 270, 271


There you have it folks … the hidden history of slavery in Canada. This issue is so little known, that I have angry Canadians writing in to me claiming that there WAS NO SLAVERY in Canada!

Remember When? … #serialkillercapital

Remember When is a new series of posts where we take a look back at some of the funny, bizarre and downright disturbing incidents in Canada’s past.

Since cakers like to judge everyone else (particularly Americans) and point out their historic wrong-doings, it’s time to take a mirror to these incompetent hypocrites. Enjoy!


London, Ontario: Serial Killer Capital of the World

From the CBC:

“At first glance, London, Ont., doesn’t seem like the type of place that would harbour a serial killer, but a new book has revealed it may have been a more dangerous place than meets the eye.   

Only 192 kilometres southwest of Toronto, the city became the “serial killer capital of the world” from 1959 to 1984, according to Michael Arntfield, a criminology professor at the University of Western Ontario. With only a population of roughly 200,000 people at the time, the city may have had as many as six serial killers, more per capita than everywhere else on the planet.”

Yeah, that sounds about right for Ontario!

 “Arntfield, who also served as a London police officer for 15 years, analyzed 32 homicides, all the victims being women and children, over a 15-year period…   

Monsters such as the Mad Slasher, Chambermaid Slayer and Balcony Killer are suspected of having roamed the city’s streets. Some of the murderers were never captured, Arntfield says, but he suspects they escaped to Toronto, where they continued to harm the innocent.”

More incompetence:

“While these lives are being taken in Toronto, Alsop is trying to sound the alarm to his superiors that this is the work of a serial killer and it started in London and has moved to Toronto.  

In the book, there is a very chilling document that was found in his codex … and it is the first of several teletype transmissions he sent, like an early version of a fax, and it is sent to the higher ups in Toronto saying, listen, London is under siege by [what he refers to as] sexual psychopaths, which is not a common term certainly for a police officer to be using at the time. He is saying there are at least two or more sexual psychopaths preying on this city. We need reinforcements. He was effectively alone in the hinterland. And there is no evidence there was any response. It fell on deaf ears and really the city was left to its own devices with him as the sole person chasing these killers.”


From the Guardian:

In regards to the book Murder City:

“Dennis Alsop, a detective sergeant with the Ontario provincial police, was based in the London area between 1950 and 1979. He kept all of his notes and research on the murders hidden until he died in 2012.  

“Through [Alsop’s] diary entries, he knew who did it and he was basically stonewalled from making arrests, because they felt he didn’t have enough, they wanted a slam dunk,” said Arntfield. “So he kept tabs on these people on his own time until they moved from London, and it seems that at least in one case there are other victims in Toronto connected to the same killer.”  

But even if all of the remaining cases were found to be the work of a single killer, London would retain the record for having the largest verified concentration of serial killers operating in one place at one time.  

“New York and Los Angeles at any given time have had four or five, but London at the time had a mean population of 170,000,” said Arntfield, adding that in megacities like New York and Los Angeles the per-capita equivalent would be about 80 or 90 per city.”


What’s amazing to me (but also unsurprising) is the fact not only did London have more serial killers per capita at the time, but it had roughly the equivalent of a major American city, which you’d expect to still have attracted more (per capita) on the basis of anonymity and choice of victims.

Of course back then Canada was even more of a hillbilly backwater than it is today.

What’s also sad to me is the fact this dedicated officer Dennis Alsop tried to solve these crimes, received no support and was left struggling on his own. In fact, he was so dedicated: “He kept all of his notes and research on the murders hidden until he died in 2012.” He didn’t even get to see a final resolution.

His work became the basis for the book: “Murder City: The Untold Story of Canada’s Serial Killer Capital, 1954-1984″. I’ll add it to my reading list, because I’m actually quite touched by Alsop’s efforts.


From Amazon:

“Like the mythic cities of Gotham or Gomorrah, London, Ontario was for many years an unrivalled breeding ground of depravity and villainy, the difference being that its monsters were all too real. In its coming to inherit the unwanted distinction of being the serial killer capital of not just Canada-but apparently also the world during this dark age in the city’s sordid history- the crimes seen in London over this quarter-century period remain unparalleled and for the most part unsolved. From the earliest documented case of homicidal copycatting in Canada, to the fact that at any given time up to six serial killers were operating at once in the deceivingly serene “Forest City,” London was once a place that on the surface presented a veneer of normality when beneath that surface dark things would whisper and stir.


Through it all, a lone detective would go on to spend the rest of his life fighting against impossible odds to protect the city against a tidal wave of violence that few ever saw coming, and which to this day even fewer choose to remember. With his death in 2011, he took these demons to his grave with him but with a twist-a time capsule hidden in his basement, and which he intended to one day be opened. Contained inside: a secret cache of his diaries, reports, photographs, and hunches that might allow a new generation of sleuths to pick up where he left off, carry on his fight, and ultimately bring the killers to justice-killers that in many cases are still out there.”


Yeah, Ontario is truly a creepy place, so is the north. This post is even more ironic in light of reading some comments online where a Canadian bashed Americans for their ‘serial killer filled nation’. Yes, there are all kinds of crazy in a nation of 300 million people … but Canada creeps me out infinitely more.


Post script

I finally got around to reading this book. Let me warn you, it is disturbing. And it comes with everything you’d expect from Canada: incompetence, bumbling; indifference that beggars belief.

Which includes: serious sexual offenders and killers sentenced to 5-10 years in prison; using techniques, technologies and systems 15+ years after they became available in the U.S.; even brushing off serial murder as an “American problem”, which apparently couldn’t exist in the magical land of Canada.

All this and more! Of the few cases which were solved, it was generally down to sheer luck or the help of witnesses. A couple more through DNA in recent years, after the offenders died. In addition to being disturbed, be prepared for healthy doses of outrage.