Mike Martin, Thieving at Montreal’s Donegana Hotel

In 1885, the Montreal Gazette published an anecdote about Michael Martin’s time in Quebec (which, in his confession, was in June 1821):

There are many problems with this anecdote, the first one being the date “1825,” which was four years after Michael Martin’s execution.

The Donegana Hotel in Montreal was built in 1821 and during its first decade was not a hotel at all, but a private residence. During the late 1830 and early 1840s, it served as the official residence of the Governor-General of Canada. Later it was converted to a hotel.

The reference to “General Gordon” is a puzzle. In 1885, everyone in the world would have associated that name with British General Charles George Gordon, who died in January of that year while defending the Egyptian-held city of Khartoum from attack by the Mahdi forces of Sudan. However, he was not born until 1833. There was also a General Gordon Drummond who served as a Governor-General of Canada in the 1810s, but who had returned to England by 1821. There are no other obvious candidates for who “General Gordon” might have been.

The anecdote also conflates Martin’s visit to Montreal with the incident involving a confrontation with a Native American. In his confession, Martin says that he shot and killed an Indian during a botched highway robbery attempt on a road thrity-five miles outside of Montreal, while heading towards Kingston.

Martin did admit that he tried, unsuccessfully, to steal items while staying in Montreal.

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