[ Roman Line Sign, 2005, Note St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in the background of the photograph.  Copyright Great Unsolved Canadian Mysteries Project, Jennifer Pettit,   ]

“The torch of the incendiary looms on the midnight air and dark forms, knife in hand, prowl near the dwellings of the sleeping village” warned the London Advertiser, three years before the murder of the Donnellys. To understand any event and solve any crime we need to know what led up to it. The evidence in this section of the website tells how the Donnellys came to settle in Canada, and how quickly they became embroiled in all sorts of trouble. You will see as well though, that the Donnellys were not the only criminals in Biddulph. Indeed, crime was so rampant in Biddulph that in 1859 a local authority told Attorney General (and future Prime Minister) John A. Macdonald that the justices of the peace were not safe and it was wise to go to Biddulph only during daylight hours. Local magistrate Ira Lewis concurred and warned, “[t]here is a section of the township of Biddulph inhabited by the lower order of Roman Catholics where a person’s life is not considered of any value.” By the time of the massacre the situation had only become worse.