Forest City Murder: A Wordsfest Online Event

Hello Everyone,

The following post is provided by Words, The Literary and Creative Arts Festival. This is a literary event featuring a list of onsite and online events. It is hosted by Western University and runs from November 5 – 19, 2021.

On Friday, November 12, 2021 at 7pm, via Zoom they will explore two notorious cases of homicide in 19th-century Ontario. The event details are as follows:

Zoom Registration: 


The story of the Black Donnellys has become a fabled piece of Ontario history. The Donnelly family emigrated from Ireland to the township of Lucan Biddulph in the Ontario countryside. They found themselves, after a few years, in conflict with the local people. In February of 1880, an organized mob murder four Donnelly family members and burn their house to the ground. Another sibling is shot to death in a house a short distance away. William Donnelly and a teenage boy are the only witnesses to the murders. The surviving family members seek justice through the local courts but quickly learn that their enemies control the jury and the press. Two sensational trials follow that make national and international headlines as the Donnellys continue to pursue justice for their murdered parents, siblings and cousin. 

We will visit with John Little who has published a two-volume historical account of the Donnellys (The Donnellys, Volume I: Powder Keg, 1840–1880 / The Donnellys, Volume II: Massacre, Trial and Aftermath, 1880–1916). We will also visit with Keith Ross Leckie whose new novel, Cursed! Blood of the Donnellys, is a fictional account of the notorious family and that time in Canadian history. 

Around the same time, Thomas Neill Cream is suspected of killing a female patient in London, Ontario. He flies to Chicago where he would kill as many as four people. After serving ten years in an Illinois prison, Cream was set free in 1891 – and headed for England to unleash his wrath on the prostitutes of London. In his new book, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer, Dean Jobb explores the story of how Dr. Cream killed as many as ten people in three countries, a rampage that eclipsed the crimes of the notorious Jack the Ripper. The Lambeth Poisoner, as he was dubbed, became one of the most prolific serial killers in history. Jobb reveals how bungled investigations, corrupt officials and failed prosecutions allowed Cream to evade detection or freed him to kill.


Dean Jobb is an award-winning author and journalist and a professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction program. He specializes in true crime and my monthly column on the genre, “Stranger Than Fiction,” appears in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. His articles and book reviews appear in CrimeReads, Inside History magazine, the Chicago Review of Books and the Washington Independent Review of Books. During my 35-year career as a newspaper staff writer and freelance journalist he has written features and commentaries on an array of subjects – history, current events, law, business, politics, media ethics, science, travel, and the craft of nonfiction.

Keith Ross Leckie, author of Coppermine (Viking, 2010), has worked in the film and television business as a dramatic scriptwriter for more than thirty years. His credits include multiple movies and miniseries, including Everest!, Shattered City, Milgaard, The Arrow and Lost in the Barrens. He is currently working with Bell Media to develop a dramatic series based on Blood of the Black Donnellys. 

John Little is the bestselling author Who Killed Tom Thomson? He has authored over 40 books on subjects ranging from philosophy and history to exercise and martial arts, in addition to being an award-winning filmmaker. Little is a contributor to, the Toronto Star, and has been interviewed by CNN, Canada AM, NPR, A&E, People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and the Family Channel.

For more information about the above event or to find out about other Wordfest events, please contact them through their website: