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Montreal, City of Secrets
Montreal, City of Secrets

Montreal, City of Secrets

Confederate Operations in Montreal During the American Civil War

By Barry Sheehy, Photographs By Cindy Wallace


300 Pages, 8.25 x 9.25

Formats: Trade Paper, PDF

Trade Paper, $34.95 (US $34.95) (CA $39.95)

Publication Date: October 2017

ISBN 9781771861236

Rights: WOR

Baraka Books (Oct 2017)

Price: $34.95


During the American Civil War, the Confederate government's largest foreign secret service base was in Montreal. The Bank of Montreal, the Bank of Ontario, and other Canadian financial institutions held Confederate deposits of a million dollars or more in hard currencies and gold to fund clandestine activities. Montreal, then the largest city in British North America, has kept secret its unique role in the American Civil War ever since. The city, like Geneva or Lisbon during WW11, was overrun with refugees, soldiers of fortune, spies, assassins, bankers and smugglers. Montreal was generally a pro "Secesh" town. Confederate money bought influence and cooperation. The Secret Service rented entire suites of rooms in grand hotels such as the St. Lawrence Hall on St. James Street (now St-Jacques) where Mint Juleps were served year round. The Confederate Secret Service mounted numerous operations out of Canada. These included raids on Union prisoner-of-war camps, attempts to burn major New York hotels, blowing up ships on the Mississippi, and the infamous raid on St. Albans, Vermont. From Montreal, where the Confederates enjoyed the support and hospitality of influential British-Canadian politicians and bankers, they launched a successful assault on the new American currency, the "Greenback." This scheme to "short" the dollar and drive up the price of gold involved Canadian banks and American financiers like J.P. Morgan. The Lincoln kidnapping plot—which evolved into an assassination—originated in Montreal. Though John Wilkes Booth was in Montreal in October 1864 and a bank draft signed by influential Montreal banker and future mayor Henry Starnes was found on his body, these facts have never been adequately examined. Powerful American bankers, businessmen, and financiers also visited the St. Lawrence Hall. So did War Department and the Treasury Department officials and most of Salmon P. Chase's presidential committee who wanted to unseat Lincoln as the Republican nominee. Cotton speculators and much of the nascent military industrial complex came to Montreal to do business with the Confederacy. Based on original archival research, a treasure trove of photos by renowned Montreal photographer William Notman and his previous books on the Civil War, Barry Sheehy challenges core tenets of the American Civil War narrative. For example, the level of corruption in the Federal war effort suggested by the names at St Lawrence Hall is breathtaking and opposition to Lincoln from both parties clearly ran deeper and than acknowledged in accepted Lincoln mythology.


"One of the most important keys to understanding John Wilkes Booth and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is the role of the Confederate operations in Montreal. It has received too little attention from historians – until now. Barry Sheehy lays out the case for the involvement of the Confederates in a concise and convincing manner showing once and for all that Booth could not have carried out his plot without their direct help. It is about time." —Ed Steers, author, Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

"A lively and graphically rich exposé of Rebel operations engineered north of the North . . . John Wilkes Booth's Montreal connections have been firmly established by others. Sheeh follows its evolution from kidnapping to assassination. The authors even speculate that the idea of killing Lincoln may well have been planted in Booth's mind by people surrounding him in Montreal." —Gordon Berg, America's Civil War

"Sheehy skillfully spins tales of intrigue and treachery that challenge mainstream interpretations of the American Civil War and Canada's role in it." —John Boyko, author, Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation

"For anyone who thought the Civil War had no more secrets to reveal, Montreal: City of Secrets spills over with a story that is nothing less than incredible . . . . It's a story of influence peddling, espionage, blockade running, kidnapping, assassination, and more." —Eric Calonius, author, The Wanderer: The Last American Slave Ship and the Conspiracy that Set Its Sails

"John Wilkes Booth? A lone crackpot? No, part of a conspiracy based in Montreal where confederates felt right at home. As soon as I received this book, I read the first page and didn't put it down until I finished. Fascinating! Full of surprises on every page." —Ishmael Reed, poet, novelist, essayist and author, The Complete Muhammad Ali

"In Montreal, City of Secrets, author Barry Sheehy paints a vivid portrait of a city teeming with spies, smugglers, and assassins. (…) Well-researched, with detailed endnotes and ample black-and-white period photography, the book is a real eye-opener for those who think Canada sat idly by during America's bloodiest conflict." —Mark Collin Reid, Canada's History

"The lavish inclusion and excellent reproductions of many Notman photos from the McCord Collection are in themselves worth the acquisition of this outstandingly researched and clearly-written history." —Sandra Stock, Quebec Heritage News

Author Biography

Barry Sheehy is an accomplished speaker, business consultant and author whose works have appeared along side of those of Presidents Clinton and Bush, Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin and business leaders such as Lou Gerstner, Jack Welch, and Michael Dell, Edwards Deming, Stephen R. Covey, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Gary Hamel, Peter Senge and Tom Peters. His speaking tours have taken him to Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico, Canada, and the United States. He is the author of six books dealing with both business and history. Sheehy's articles and papers have appeared in The Georgia Historical Quarterly, the National Productivity Review, Asian Productivity Digest, Executive Excellence, The Governance Institute, The Singapore Business Times, and Hong Kong Industrialist. His most recent books Savannah: Immortal City and Brokers, Bankers and Bay Lane: Inside the Slave Trade were broadly acclaimed. Immortal City was featured at the prestigious Savannah Book Fair and Broker, Bankers and Bay Lane received the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Historical Research using original archival sources. Barry and his wife, Christine, have residences in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and Savannah, Georgia. Cindy Wallace is a photographer and an art and photography professor with a Master's in Fine Arts from Georgia Southern University. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States. Along with Barry Sheehy, she received the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Excellence in Research in 2012 for the book Brokers, Bankers and Bay Lane – Inside the Slave Trade. She lives in Amarillo, Texas.