A small group of Canadian Fenians was headed initially by Michael Murphy of Toronto, who supported the O'Mahony wing. When it became obvious that there was to be no immediate uprising in Ireland, O'Mahony launched a raid against the New Brunswick frontier in April 1866. Murphy was summoned to join O'Mahony's forces by cipher telegram, but the telegram was intercepted and deciphered, bringing about his arrest in Cornwall. The raid collapsed and its only lasting consequence was to turn opinion in the Maritimes in favour of CONFEDERATION. The Roberts wing crossed the Niagara frontier on June 1, defeated Canadian militiamen at RIDGEWAY, and withdrew. A second group crossed the Québec frontier at Missisquoi Bay on June 7, and remained 48 hours. After the failure of an Irish uprising in 1867, the movement fragmented. Yet a Fenian apparently assassinated Thomas D'Arcy MCGEE in 1868, and in 1870 the faction led by "General" John O'Neill launched 2 small raids over the Québec frontier.
O'Neill attempted one more raid in the fall of 1871, this time against Manitoba, hoping to receive support from Louis Riel and the Métis. This was checked by American authorities before it reached the Canadian border. Instead of supporting O'Neill, Riel raised loyalist volunteers to defend the frontier. After 1871, some sections of the fragmented Fenian movement carried on and were still in being at the time of the Easter 1916 uprising in Dublin, Ireland. Fenianism added a page to Irish folklore and helped to unite Canadians by providing an external threat during the period of Confederation.
Author HEREWARD SENIOR
Links to Other Sites
Ridgeway: An historical romance of the Fenian invasion of Canada
Read the full text of a digitized copy of James McCarroll's 1868 book "Ridgeway: An historical romance of the Fenian invasion of Canada." Click on the arrows in the toolbar to view each page of the book. From Early Canadiana Online.
The Fenian Brotherhood
Scroll down the page for a brief history of the scattered Fenian raids into Canada in the 19th century. From the Archives of Ontario.
Documents from the Front: The American Civil War and Fenian Raids in the 1860s
View online copies of rare archival documents relating to the American Civil War and Fenian Raids in the 1860s. From the Archives of Ontario.
RIDGEWAY: The American Fenian Invasion and the 1866 Battle That Made Canada
This book documents the rarely covered history of Canada’s forgotten first fallen soldiers and the Irish Fenian Invasion -- the last battle fought in the province of Ontario. From penguin.ca.