The years 1957 and 1958 are centenary years connected with the life of Thomas D'Arcy McGee. (1) His family came to live in Montreal in the month of August 1857; they came from the city of Brooklyn, New York state, (2) he came under the sponsorship of St. Patrick's Society of Montreal, (3) he was chosen as the representative for the constituency of Montreal West in the coming election in December 1857; and was elected with the largest vote of the six candidates presenting themselves for the three seats in Montreal, (4) on January 2nd, 1858, he issued the first number of his Montreal tri-weekly newspaper The New Era.
When Mr. W. A. Higgs of the Thomas D'Arcy McGee Associates of Montreal wrote the newly elected Prime Minister of Canada, the Honourable Mr. John Diefenbaker, about the recently formed society and its purpose of doing honour to the memory of McGee and in particular of the society's hope of presenting Canada with an oil painting of McGee, he was welcomed quite warmly in a letter from Mr. Diefenbaker written from London and dated July 2nd, 1957.
Later on in the summer of 1957, the McGee Associates were told about the agreement made with Mr. Bruce Mitchell, a Montreal artist, to paint the portrait of Thomas D'Arcy McGee, and at the same meeting Mr. Patrick Lynch offered to pay the fee the artist asked for his services. The McGee Associates are deeply indebted to Mr. Lynch's generosity.
This occasion is not the time nor is this the place to go into a detailed account of McGee's very active life; he was born on April 13th, 1825, in the town of Carlinsford, Ireland, and on the night of April 6th of the year 1868, shortly after he had left the House of Commons, he was assassinated in Ottawa, Canada, and on the 43rd anniversary of his birthday he was buried in Montreal on April 13th, 1868.
He left Ireland for the first time with his sister in April 1842 to visit relatives in Providence, Rhode Island. He became a writer for the Boston Pilot and attracted so much attention by his writings and speaking that the owners of the Freemans Journal invited him back to Ireland in August of the year 1845 to become connected with newspapers in Dublin and in London. His connection through Charles Gavin Duffy and the Nation newspaper was an important event in his life; through the Nation came the abortive rebellion of 1848, under the leadership of Smith
O'Brien; its repression followed, and McGee's second departure from Ireland, disguised as a priest, with a price on his head by the British government, took place. The years 1846-48 are the years of the great famine in Ireland; the great migrations from the homeland to England and Scotland, to the United States and South America, to continental Europe, to Australia and New Zealand and to Canada-Quebec, Montreal, Toronto and Kingston. In Montreal in one large burying place at the western end of the Victoria bridge, there are six thousand dead of Irish emigrants who sought to make Canada their home in 1847-48.
McGee reached Philadelphia on the emigrant ship, "The Shamrock", in 1848 and for the next ten years he was engaged in newspaper work in a number of American cities, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Boston, New York, interspersed with many lecture engagements in the United States and Canada. In 1850, McGee founded in New York the newspaper The American Celt, which he later moved to Buffalo-soon he became known as one of the more attractive lecturers and came frequently to Canada and later on to Canada's maritime provinces where Archbishop Connolly of Halifax remained his constant friend until McGee's death.
In the years 1856 and 1857, the Irish, who had been coming to Montreal in larger numbers for twenty-five years and more, stated through St. Patrick's Society their intention of naming and electing one of their own to represent them in one of the three seats which Montreal then held in the legislative assembly of Canada. As there were a number of aspirants for the honour, St. Patrick's Society decided to go outside of Canada and in the United States, they asked Thomas D'Arcy McGee to be their candidate for parliament. In August of the year 1857, McGee's wife and children moved to Montreal and took up residence on St. Antoine street, near Richmond square in the western suburbs of Montreal.
The ministerial candidates for the three parliamentary seats which Montreal had in the 1857 election were Georges Etienne Cartier, Sternes and John Rose; the reform candidates were Antoine A. Dorion, Luther Holton and Thomas D'Arcy McGee; the polling days in Montreal were Monday and Tuesday, December 21st and 22nd; at the close of the election at 5 p.m. Tuesday, December 22nd, 1857, Dorion, Rose and