Fenian defence

A moment from yesterday

September 21, 2016 | Viewpoints | Volume 20 Issue 19
Laureen Harder-Gissing | Mennonite Archives of Ontario

The Fenian Invasions, in which Irish American Civil War veterans used raids into pre-Confederation Canada to further the cause of Irish independence, were launched in 1866. Christian Eby (pictured), grandson of Mennonite Bishop Benjamin Eby of Berlin (now Kitchener), Ont., was purported to be among the thousands of young men in Canada West (now Ontario) to answer the call to arms. In the largest of the raids, the Battle of Ridgeway, Canadians experienced industrial-era battle conditions for the first time. According to historian Hereward Senior, the raids allowed Canadians to experience “martial spirit and excitement” without the heavy cost of a true war. That heavy cost would be experienced by the next generation, in 1914.


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