The Donnelly Album
By now everyone in Canada knows at least one version of the brutal slaying of members of the Donnelly family on the night of February 3, 1880. The Donnelly Album tells in compelling detail the story of the Donnellys—James and Johannah and their seven sons and one daughter. Arriving in Canada from Tipperary, Ireland, in the 1840s, the family settled in the boisterous Irish pioneer community in Biddulph Township near London, Ontario.
For the next thirty years, their activities gained wide notoriety in the surrounding district. The father was once convicted of murder but escaped the gallows. The sons grew up to be handsome, reckless, enterprising in business, and dangerous in combat. Largely because of their presence, Lucan, the village nearest their farm home, became known as the widest town in Canada.
What is it about the Donnellys that have fascinated so many people for many years? Were they really as wicked as their enemies have portrayed them? Why was no one ever convicted of the murders? What happened to the surviving Donnellys? Why do local people today still fell so strongly, both pro and con, about the family? After fifteen years of exhaustive research, Ray Fazakas has produced the definitive account of the famous feud and its tragic consequences.
He has also collected an astonishing treasure trove of old photographs, contemporary drawings, maps, and documents of the Donnellys, their murderers, and the sites and people involved in the events. This unique combination of narrative and illustration recreates not just an epic tragedy but an entire segment of Canadian frontier life.
Ray Fazakas is a well-known Hamilton lawyer.