The Fenian Raids of 1866 and the Creation of Canada

The Fenian raids played an important role in the creation of Canada, but now, 146 years later, how many people in Canada have even heard of them? I vaguely remember one brief mention of them in my history classes.

After I became aware of the raids, I felt that there was a story that I’d like to see more widely known. At the time I wasn’t able to find much information on the raids. Last week I tried again and found more information.

The Wikipedia article has a brief overview of the raids. It doesn’t have much depth though.

My current interest was provoked when I stumbled upon the recent book Delusion: The True Story of Victorian Superspy Henri Le Caron. Henri Le Caron (aka Thomas Miller Beach) was a spy for the British and Canadians. An interview with the author, Peter Edwards, is available on-line: Peter Edwards interview. I plan to read this book.

Henri Le Caron’s work was critical to the survival of Canada. Without his information and his efforts to sabotage of the Fenians, their raids would have been much more dangerous than they were. Most of the Fenians were veterans of the American Civil War, while the Canadians were mostly untrained volunteers.

I found some other books about Le Caron.

Twenty-five years in the secret service : the recollections of a spy is an autobiography that you can download as an e-book.

The Spy Who Came in from the Coalfield – A British Spy in Illinois by Joseph Clark is an article from the Journal Of Illinois History. You can download it as a pdf.

Prince of Spies: Henri Le Caron by J.A.Cole

Short biographies on-line: and

I found some books about other aspects of the Fenian raids.

Troublous times in Canada; a history of the Fenian raids of 1866 and 1870 by John A. MacDonald. This is not the Prime Minister of Canada. You can download this as an e-book.

Ridgeway: The American Fenian Invasion and the 1866 Battle That Made Canada by Peter Vronsky is history of one of the major battles with the Fenians.

A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe is a fictional work that involves the Battle of Ridgeway.

I haven’t decided if I will pursue this idea any further. I do want to learn more about the subject though. I am open for suggestions, if you have any.

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