Lingering doubts about Whelan's guilt have made the McGee killing — Canada's only political assassination — one of the country's most enduring whodunits. And while David Wilson concludes that Whelan was certainly involved in the assassination, he argues that armchair cold-case sleuths should take a second look at Whelan's friend and fellow Fenian James Kinsella, a "bit player" in the original investigation and trial but quite possibly the man who held the smoking gun over McGee's dead body.
"Kinsella's testimony at Whelan's trial was vague and unconvincing," the University of Toronto historian writes in the second volume of his two-part biography of McGee, which goes on sale later this month. "If Whelan was indeed covering up for someone, Kinsella is a possible candidate."
McGee was shot to death on April 7, 1868, on the doorstep of his Ottawa rooming house on Sparks Street near Parliament Hill. The killing of the fiery orator — a former radical Irish nationalist who came to reject Fenian-style violence as a means to achieve the independence of his homeland from Britain — has prompted various theories over the years about whether Whelan was unjustly convicted and executed.
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