Third Age Learning - York Region   



Ridgeway 1866: The Hidden History of Canada’s First Modern Battle and the Last Battle Fought in Ontario.

  • September 17, 2018
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Aurora Cultural Centre



Dr. Peter Vronsky

Peter Vronsky, is an author and an investigative historian.  He is a former documentary filmmaker and investigative television news producer who worked with CBC, CTV and CNN in North America and overseas from South Africa to Chechnya from 1980 to 2000.  

In 2010, Vronsky completed a Ph.d. in history at the University of Toronto in the fields of criminal justice history and the history of espionage in international relations.  He currently lectures in espionage history and international relations at Ryerson University. 

His doctoral dissertation at U of T was published as a trade book by Penguin Books in 2011 as Ridgeway: The American Fenian Invasion and the 1866 Battle That Made Canada.

Vronsky is also the author of three bestseller histories of serial homicide.  His 2004 book Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters published by Penguin Random House Books in the US, has been described as the "definitive history of the phenomenon of serial murder."  

Vronsky is currently working in the United States on his next forthcoming book from Penguin Random House:  Raptor!  The Life and Crimes of Serial Killer Richard Cottingham, the “Times Square Torso Ripper” and a Daughter’s Quest for Her Mother’s Severed Head scheduled to be published in 2020.


Ridgeway 1866: The Hidden History of Canada’s First Modern Battle and the Last Battle Fought in Ontario.

On June 1, 1866 Canada was invaded by Irish-American Fenian insurgents from their bases in the United States. The invasion culminated on June 2, with the disastrous (for the Canadians)  Battle of Ridgeway near Fort Erie, Ontario.  This was Canada's first modern battle and the first fought exclusively by Canadian soldiers and led entirely by Canadian officers.  It was also the last battle fought against a foreign invader in Ontario.

Nine militia volunteers from Toronto's Queen's Own Rifles Regiment were killed in the battle, including three student soldiers from a University of Toronto rifle company called out while writing their final exams and who took the brunt of a Fenian charge at Limestone Ridge.  While Canadians had not fought a major war in Canada since the War of 1812, the Fenians were all battle-hardened veterans of the American Civil War, many having served in crack Irish brigades.

The “Ridgeway Nine” were modern Canada's first soldiers killed in action, but after the disastrous battle the Macdonald government covered-up what happened so thoroughly that most Canadians today have never heard of this battle.

 This event is part of the Fall 2018 Speaker series.

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