Susan McNicoll’s Online Home

If you’re interested in Canadian history, theatre, true murders, biographies, acting, Jack the Ripper, death, hanging, intrigue, memoirs, historical murders, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and illness, mystery and more, then you have come to the right website. Not only has Susan written about all those things in different books or articles but she has a page devoted to her handsome Maine Coon cat, Jay, including a musical video link. Susan’s lifelong love of words and history has been the main focus of her writing career, which began with five years as a reporter for the Ottawa Journal in the 1970s. Her latest release is The Opening Act: Canadian Theatre History, 1945-1953, a book devoted to professional Canadian theatre prior to the Stratford Festival in 1953.

Cat Jay’s Sixth Birthday

Today I turned six. I look at myself in the mirror (What! A cat can’t have any vanity!) and I can hardly remember the little guy I once was. I was always chewing on something back then.


I was always chewing on something, good or bad.

The day after I came to live with mum I chewed and swallowed something I shouldn’t have. Mum immediately picked me up and took me to see the woman who became my vet, Anna.

At that point I still did not have a name and it was while driving to that first visit that mum realized the obvious, that she had to name me Jay after her beloved Toronto Blue Jays. She didn’t want me to be Blue (thanks mum) and so Jay it was. If she had asked me I could have told her my name was Jay.

As an animal I shouldn’t say I like a veterinarian but I LOVE my Anna. She makes me feel really special even if she told mum all those years ago that I was going to be a lot of trouble, whatever that means. I just had a lot of curiosity. (more…)

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Wheels of Love Chapter One, Part Two

Chapter One, Part Two

After bidding farewell to their young Moroccan friend, the three travellers discovered the train to Narbonne had left. They had an hour to kill in the station until the next one and they were also going to have to go to Nice via Marseilles after all because the delayed connection did not allow them to go directly from Narbonne.

Their attention was quickly diverted to a commotion further down the platform on which they were standing. At the centre was a man flailing his arms about and screaming at anyone who approached him. A train station employee trying to talk to him was becoming increasingly agitated.Then he noticed the Canadian flags on the women’s knapsacks and walked over to them. He asked the three in French if they could  translate for him, to help find out what was bothering the man and making him crazy.

The bilingual Deb agreed, thinking the man might be from Canada. He wasn’t. Like a crazed animal, he was lashing out at everyone around him, almost foaming at the corners of his mouth. Instantly deciding he was unbalanced they, nevertheless, reluctantly moved towards him.

“Stay away no one come near me,” he spat out in a strong Scottish accent.

Other than long, bushy sideburns, he was clean-cut and on the younger side of thirty. Sitting on a bench for a split second and then up and pacing again, he was obviously terrified to stay still. Sue began talking to him very gently as she moved closer and closer and finally convinced him they were on his side, wherever that was! His name was Geordie. As he started telling them his strange tale, the three of them looked at each other wishing they were some¬where else, anywhere but on that platform in Cerbere. The story he told seemed impossible and yet Sue had this nagging suspicion in her head that he was telling the truth.

Travelling much as Sue and Deb were doing, Geordie and his friend had been staying in youth hostels and experiencing Europe.

“We saw something we shouldn’t have and they started chasing us”, he said swallowing more air than he was sending to his lungs. He was still darting around but in a shorter circumference.

“What did you see?” Sue said, asking the obvious question.

“It’s crazy, just plain crazy, don’t you understand. I don’t know what we saw. They caught us and we asked why and they said we knew what we’d seen. We didn’t, I swear. We were scared but were able to get away but they found us again and now they’ve killed my friend and they’re going to get me too”.

Geordie said all this without taking a breath but frequently wiping his sweating forehead with his shirtsleeve. He leaned over and tried to get some air into his lungs.

“Who’s after you?” Sue said, grabbing his arm in an effort to calm him down.

“The Mafia, the Mafia, now do you understand”. (more…)

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Wheels of Love Chapter One

 Chapter One

It was scorching hot that late September day in 1972. Sue and Deb had been travelling for six weeks and having a blast. They’d both worked hard for a year, saving to backpack for four months through England and Europe. Sue, although only 23, had so much responsibility back at home that she was really enjoying the freedom she was experiencing. That freedom was all she wanted from this adventure. Never in a million years was love in the picture.

Arriving at the train station in Barcelona early that morning, the platform was overrun with men. Given what happened in France a couple of weeks before, seeing few other women left Sue a little apprehensive about the day ahead but she quickly put her fears aside. They grabbed an empty carriage but it did not stay that way long as they were soon joined by a young Moroccan boy and a woman from England. The latter was so frail and nervous Sue wondered why she was travelling alone. The 16-year-old boy with the black curly hair and animated gestures made them all smile. In spite of his exuberance, he had an appealing shyness about him. It only took five minutes of sitting in the station before the heat got to them.

“Geez it’s hot. This is September, isn’t it?” Deb asked as she made sure all the windows and the carriage door were wide open.

“Apparently” Sue replied while helping fight one of the creaky old train windows into submission.

However, the open windows brought them little relief. Sue was reaching into her knapsack for a bottle of juice when a young man appeared in the doorway of the carriage. She saw his feet first and then her eyes slowly moved up the rest of his body to a face that made her solar plexus tighten and piercing blue eyes that led her down into the most open soul she had ever encountered. She knew at that instant her life would never be the same again.

“Is seats taken?” the man said.

“No,” Sue said quickly.

The young man must have thought he was asking were the seats empty because with Sue’s response he started to walk away. She sprang to her feet and grabbed his arm.


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