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A podcast exploring the histories and legacies of Irish immigrants and their Canadian descendants.

Season 2, Episode 6 – The Body of Mary Boyd

To end our second season, Jane is revealing some of her exclusive research from the Gender, Migration & Madness Project: the mystery surrounding the death of Mary Boyd. Mary was an Irish Quebecer who found work as a young maid in a Toronto doctor’s household in 1868. But the circumstances surrounding her suicide only a few months later caused a major scandal in the city about sex, virginity, pregnancy, medical experimentation, mental illness, and the immense power men had over women’s bodies.

NB – This episode contains graphic discussions of mental illness, sexual assault, and suicide. Listener discretion is advised.

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Season 2, Episode 5 – The Execution of Thomas Scott

Few people in Canadian history have created more division than Louis Riel. At the time of his death in 1885, he had been found guilty of high treason, but even the jury who condemned him agreed that something else in Riel’s past was why he was killed: the execution of Thomas Scott. Who was Thomas Scott? Why was he executed in Winnipeg during the Red River Resistance, and why did Riel feel fifteen years later that he was going to be hanged because of an Irishman?

NB – This episode contains explicit language

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Season 2, Episode 4 – The Battle of the Windmill

Wild hogs eating corpses on a battlefield, women shot in the face, Irish soldiers strung up by their heels and mutilated, hangings, deportations, and ghosts… Does this sound like Canada to you? Despite appearances of gentility in Upper Canada, the Battle of the Windmill was anything but – and for a Canadian battle, it was chock-full of Irishmen. At the tiny hamlet of New Wexford in November 1838, all sorts of horrible things happened; this week, we’re talking all about it.

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Season 2, Episode 3: Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan

The 1837 Lower Canadian Rebellion was as close as the Canadian colonies ever came to revolution. Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan – doctor, politician, and notable newspaper editor in Montreal – was Louis-Joseph Papineau’s right-hand man in the tense years leading to the battles between les patriotes and the British Army. As the editor of The Vindicator, O’Callaghan became the most powerful Irishman in Montreal, trying to create a Canadian republic through the power of his printing press.

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Season 2, Episode 2 – Irish Nellie

Ellen Cashman was born during the era of the Great Irish Famine in Co. Cork. As a young woman, she left with her family for Boston and then the Wild West. A businesswoman, prospector, philanthropist, and literal trailblazer, “Irish Nellie” was a notable female figure in an extremely masculine world. Join us as we explore the exploits of this singular Irish woman who found fame (if not fortune) in British Columbia and the Canadian north as “The Angel of the Cassiar.”

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Season 2, Episode #1 – Captain Crozier

The Franklin Expedition looms large in Canadian myths and legends, in large part because of what happened to the doomed crews of the HMS Erebus and Terror… or what we think happened. But at the heart of this story of the Canadian north is an Irishman from Co. Down who lived through the worst that the unforgiving winters had to offer, and then led the survivors as they abandoned the ships and wandered off into the ice. But who was Francis Crozier, and what do we know about the man at the heart of the mystery?

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Season 1, Episode #9 – The Ghost of Griffintown

Our final episode this season recounts the tale of Mary Gallagher, Montreal’s ‘Ghost of Griffintown,’ and the gory murder that has had her ghost searching for her lost head for the nearly 150 years. Well known to Irish Montrealers but not to many who live outside of the city, the story of Mary Gallagher and Susan Kennedy Myers – the woman who allegedly murdered her – brings together themes of Irishness, alcoholism, sexism, violence, and the supernatural. We’re also not necessarily convinced that Susan was the murderer…

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Season 1, Episode #8 – The Gender, Migration & Madness Project

The Gender, Migration & Madness Project ( is our focus this week: a multi-year investigation Jane has been leading that explores how the Irish were treated in Canadian colonial lunatic asylums in the mid-nineteenth century. Did negative stereotypes about the Irish affect the ways in which they were treated once they were institutionalised? And what led to them being confined in asylums in the first place?

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Season 1, Episode #7 – The Shiners

In another country, the dark legends about The Shiners might never have been forgotten. But in Canada? How many people today are aware that one of the most dangerous cities in North America used to be…Ottawa? Not many, we bet – and yet, it was. The Shiners – violent, intimidating, criminal Irish lumberjacks living along the Ottawa River in the 1830s – fly in the face of every image of Canada as ‘the peaceable kingdom’. That might be why they’ve been usually overlooked in Canadian history – until now.

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Season 1, Episode #6 – I Love A Man In Uniform

Jane gets a bit carried away this week, but we can see why. James FitzGibbon was one of the best-known Irishmen in pre-Famine Canada as a hero of the War of 1812, the defender of Toronto, and a one-man riot-squad brought in to stop sectarian violence. He was beloved, trusted, and a friend to all Irish immigrants and the colonial establishment. So, why has he now become one of the more forgotten characters from Canada’s past?

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