This site gives you the chance to experience the detective work of historical research. Like the other sites of the Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History project, The Redpath Mansion Mystery is mainly made up of primary source documents culled from archives and private collections. They have been transcribed, digitized, and sometimes photographed, and then organized into sections inspired by the themes that emerge from the Redpath tragedy. Your work will be to examine, compare and analyze these original documents in order to uncover the real story behind the events of June 13, 1901.

One of the goals of this site is to allow you a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous who lived in the heyday of Montreal’s Square Mile. The luxurious Square Mile Mansions are almost all now destroyed, but you have a chance to access the mysterious stories of one important family who lived there at the height of the area’s opulence. In addition, we hope you’ll find that the mystery is a fertile starting point for other investigations into a broad array of topics in social history such as medical expertise, domestic architecture, and philanthropy.

The site is divided into seven sections. The title of each section is found in the horizontal bar located beneath the main title, The Redpath Mansion Mystery. Each section title is a clickable button, and by selecting one or another you can navigate freely from one section to another.

We organized the sections thematically by imagining the mystery as a Victorian theatrical drama. The sections are entitled: Home, Tragedy, Blood Ties, Settings, Dramatis Personae, Interpretations and Archives. When you click one of the section titles, its contents will appear on the left of your screen. In the centre will appear either an introductory text or the list of documents relevant to that section. For example, if you click the Home button you will see the following menu on the left: Welcome, How to Use this Site, Support for Teachers, Mysteries Home, MysteryQuests, Feedback, Credits, Cite this Site, Site Plan, and Reviews, and below that a button labeled “Français” that gives you the option to switch languages.

If you click another section on the main horizontal menu, such as Blood Ties, the vertical menu at the left will switch to show buttons for subcategories in that section. For the section Blood Ties, there are three vertical buttons: The Redpaths, Family Health, and Wealth and Poverty in Montreal. Clicking on The Redpaths will replace the text in the centre of the screen with a list of source documents to consult. In turn, clicking on the name of a document will cause it to appear, once again in the centre of the screen. At the beginning of the text you will notice the icon labeled “About this Source.” Click on this icon for an explanation of the nature and origin of the source document in question.

The Redpath Mansion Mystery provides a wide range of visual and textual documents, which you can explore in two ways: through the thematic sections or through the archives. The thematic sections allow you to look at all the information about one particular aspect or theme of the mystery. For example, clicking on “Family Health” under the section “Blood Ties” lets you see diary entries and letters about the health of family members, excerpts from medical textbooks and novels, photographs and X-rays, and even a transcription of a doctor’s diagnosis.

Alternatively, you can access all the sources chosen for this site through the Archives. This section is organized according to type of document, including newspaper articles, books and poetry, journals and diaries, letters, parish and cemetery records, notarial documents, photographs, and maps.

Finally, at the end of your investigation you can read articles in the Interpretations section that were specially prepared for this project by four specialists. We invite you to compare your solution of the Redpath mystery with those of a forensic psychiatrist, historians, and a member of the Redpath family. However, before you can look at their solutions, you must ask your teacher (or the team at Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History) for the password. After all, it’s a mystery; we can’t reveal everything!