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THOMAS D'ARCY McGEE: Irish Rebel, Canadian Icon -- A Life in Words & Music

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George Ignatieff Theatre

15 Devonshire Place

Toronto, ON M5S 2C8

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Join us for a night of exhilarating journey into the life of Thomas D'Arcy McGee...

Irish Rebel, Canadian Icon

A Life in Words & Music

Featuring the McGee Band

Oct 20, 2017 @ 8pm at the Geoge Ignatieff Theatre, University of Toronto

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Thomas D’Arcy McGee (1825-68) was one of the most colourful and controversial figures in Canadian history. A poet, journalist, historian and politician, he was the author of more than a dozen books, the outstanding orator of his generation, and the youngest and most intellectually gifted of the Fathers of Confederation. Born in Ireland in 1825, McGee had been a rebel in his youth. A leader of the Irish Rising of 1848, he was wanted for treason, and narrowly escaped to the United States. During the next decade, he repudiated revolutionary nationalism, and moved through conservative nationalism to resurface first as a Reformer and then a Liberal-Conservative in Canada. The man who had once proudly described himself as “a traitor to the British Crown” wound up as “one of the most eloquent advocates of British rule and British institutions on the face of the globe.”

In Canada, McGee stood for a tolerant, generous-spirited, open-minded and compassionate society in which minority rights were respected and protected, and he delivered inspirational speeches about the country’s potential. He also took a strong stand against the militants in his midst, whether they were extreme Orange Protestants or Irish Canadian Fenians who supported an American-based invasion of his adopted country.

On the night of April 7 1868, a week before his 43rd birthday, Thomas D’Arcy McGee was shot dead on an Ottawa street by a Fenian who regarded him as a traitor to Ireland. Some 80,000 people attended his funeral in Montreal – the largest British North America had ever seen. His speeches were still being recited in Canadian schools more than a century later.

“Thomas D’Arcy McGee: A Life in Words and Music,” captures the spirit and style of this remarkable man. Combining the original music of James Stephens and Frank Cassidy with the script of McGee biographer Dr. David A. Wilson, it has been performed at various venues in Canada and the United States.

The McGee Band play a blend of Irish, Scottish, and Québécois music, and have recorded a CD of original music in traditional style “In Honour of the Life and Times of Thomas D’Arcy McGee,” written, recorded and produced by James Stephens and Frank Cassidy in Ottawa. “This is an exciting and brilliantly arranged CD,” commented Aidan O’Hara on RTE (Irish Radio and Television). “It’s a rare enough event to hear so excellently performed a recording of music in the traditional vein, but when it succeeds in weaving a creative melodious tapestry of the ‘folk’ and the ingeniously newly composed, it is an altogether unexpected delight.” For more information, go to www.mcgeemusic.ca

I look to the future of my adopted country with hope, though not without anxiety; I see in the not remote distance, one great nationality bound, like the shield of Achilles, by the blue rim of ocean – I see it quartered into many communities – each disposing of its internal affairs – but all bound together by free institutions, free intercourse, and free commerce; I see within the round of that shield, the peaks of the Western mountains and the crests of the Eastern waves – the winding Assiniboine, the five-fold lakes, the St. Lawrence, the Ottawa, the Saguenay, the St. John, and the Basin of Minas – by all these flowing waters, in all the valleys they fertilise, in all the cities they visit in their courses, I see a generation of industrious, contented, moral men, free in name and in fact, -- men capable of maintaining, in peace and in war, a Constitution worthy of such a country.”

(c) Image Source: Library and Archives Canada/MIKAN 3193033

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George Ignatieff Theatre

15 Devonshire Place

Toronto, ON M5S 2C8

Canada

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