Toronto Murders

Book Cover for Toronto Murders

Toronto Murders

Excerpt from the Prologue, which refers to the murder in Chapter Five, My Brother’s Keeper:

Robert sat quietly on the steps of the wagon shop, “a gun across his knees and a shot pouch over his shoulder.” The sun shone brightly, making the late September day feel warm in the dusty village of Lambton Mills. It was 11.30 a.m. as Alfred Rook walked along Dundas Street and stopped to talk to the young man.

“My name being Rook, I thought to crack a joke with him,” Alfred later stated. “I said to him, ‘Robert, you must not shoot any of those rooks [crows] around here.’”

“I am looking for other game” was the reply.

Fifteen minutes later, when his younger brother, Edward, approached the wagon shop from his home up the street, Robert rose from the steps and walked purposefully towards him.

“I have been waiting for you a good while, you bugger, and now I have got you,” Robert called out. He raised his gun and, as Edward threw his hands up and cried, “Oh, don’t!” Robert pulled the trigger.

Excerpt from Chapter One, Robbing the Hangman:

A public hanging in the early 1800s was an event not to be missed. People would travel from miles away to witness one, often coming to town the night before to vie for the best location from which to watch the killer “suffer the extreme penalty of the law.” They – men, women and children – would bring their lunches with them and make a social outing out of it. This was much the same scene for William Greenwood’s hanging.

“There were thousands of strangers in the city who had arrived the previous night,” a Globe and Mail article reported, “and long before daybreak all quiet of the city was abolished by the rattle of farmer’s waggons [sic] coming in from all parts of the surrounding country loaded with men, women and children to witness the execution … They wended their way, with the first streak of dawn, to the Old Fair Green, in order to select good positions from which to see the unfortunate man launched into eternity.”

Their excitement was to turn to disappointment when they saw that the scaffold was no longer there. Rumours began to run through the crowd and some of them had a hint of truth in them. For instance, the Governor of the jail had received a tip that William’s friends were planning to make a rescue attempt. And, in a way, William had escaped.

What has been said about Toronto Murders?

[This] latest volume . . . introduces readers to some memorable Canadian criminals. In Toronto Murders, McNicoll describes six gruesome murders that took place in the city dating back to the 1800s—a time when public hangings were still in fashion and attracted large audiences from far and wide. Men and women were charged with dastardly crimes and punished accordingly . . . [A] short, entertaining read for those interested in history, crime, and the bizarre.

- Canadian Book Review Annual

Toronto Murders can be purchased directly from the publisher, www.lorimer.ca or from Amazon, Chapters or other sites. It can also be found in bookstores and libraries throughout Ontario.