The Deadliest Massacres In Canadian History

image source: Shutterstock
image source: Shutterstock
  • Gabriel Wortman, the perpetrator of the recent Nova Scotia killings, drove a car he disguised as a police cruiser.
  • Seven of the massacres on this list occurred before Canada came to be, in 1867.
  • The chiefs of the Chilcotin who perpetrated the Bute Inlet Massacre were exonerated by British Columbia's provincial government 150 after the killings took place.

On April 18th and 19th, a man named Gabriel Wortman went on a deadly killing spree in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, murdering 22 people before he was shot and killed by police. This act of mass murder is the most recent of deadly massacres in Canada, going back to 1689. Here is a list of the deadliest massacres in Canadian history, followed by further details of the Nova Scotia Killings, the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre, and the Bute Inlet Massacre.

Nova Scotia Killings

As previously mentioned, this is the most recent case of mass murder in Canada’s history. It began on the evening of April 18th, in a small town in Nova Scotia, called Portapique, and ended the following morning in another small town named Enfield, covering a territory spanning 150 km. The name of the perpetrator was Gabriel Wortman, who got to some of his victims using a car that he managed to disguise as a police cruiser. He began his murderous rampage in his home town of Portapique, where he killed thirteen people. He then proceeded through the towns of Wentworth, Debert, Shubenacadie, and Enfield, killing more victims on the way. It was in Enfield, where he was finally shot and killed by police. When it was all over, a total of 22 people were murdered. Police are still not sure what Wortman’s motive for his actions was, but they do know that before beginning his killing spree, he restrained and beat a woman with whom he was in a relationship. His neighbors also noted that he had a large cache of weapons on his property. He used both long guns and a handgun to kill his victims. He also stole the weapon and ammunition of a police officer, Heidi Stevenson, whom he shot and killed after crashing his car head-on into her police cruiser. Unfortunately, much of the potential evidence for the investigation of this heinous crime was likely destroyed because Wortman set fire to his home and garage before leaving to carry out his attacks.

Ecole Polytechnique Massacre

The horrific killing spree that took place on December 6, 1989, is also known as the Montreal Massacre. On that day, a man named Marc Lepine, armed with a semi-automatic weapon, entered a classroom at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, an engineering school. He ordered the men in the classroom to leave. Then, he shouted at the nine remaining women in the classroom, telling them, “You are all feminists!” He then opened fire, killing six of them. The remaining three played dead until he left the room. Lepine then began looking for more victims, moving through the school’s hallways and cafeteria before entering another classroom. At the same time, he continued to rant about his hatred for feminists. Finally, after stabbing his last victim, he turned the gun on himself. After around twenty minutes, Lepine had killed a total of fourteen women and wounded thirteen other victims. He left a suicide note with a list of “radical feminists” who he says he would have killed had he not run out of time. It included the names of well-known women in Quebec, including journalists, television personalities, and union leaders. Lepine’s suicide note also blamed feminists for ruining his life. His deadly shooting rampage is still commemorated every year and is primarily regarded as an attack motivated by hatred of women.

Bute Inlet Massacre

Also known as the Chilcotin War or Chilcotin Uprising, this deadly incident, which occurred in the mid-19th century, came about after white settlers in British Columbia began building a road in territory belonging to the Chilcotin indigenous people. Some of the Chilcotin were working for the white sponsors of the road, but when they asked for compensation on numerous occasions, their requests fell on deaf ears, even as they were on the brink of starvation. At the same time, the white road crews had entered Chilcotin territory without permission. On April 29, 1864, members of the Chilcotin nation killed a ferryman after he refused their demands for food. The next day, they attacked the road workers’ camp, killing most of them. Afterward, they killed the workers’ foreman and three of his men, before ambushing a pack train and killing three of its drivers. They also killed a white settler in a separate incident. In the end, nineteen men were killed. In response, several Chilcotin chiefs were arrested, tried, and sentenced to death for the event. But 150 years later, they were ceremoniously exonerated by the provincial government. Another four years later, the federal government followed suit. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who often speaks of the importance of national reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous people, traveled to Chilcotin territory on November 2, 2018, and made an apology for Canada’s past transgressions in front of the Chilcotin community and its leaders.

The Deadliest Massacres In Canadian History

1Grand-Pre MassacreFebruary 10, 1747Grand-Pre, Nova ScotiaEst. 67
2Port-la-Joye MassacreJuly 11, 1746The location now known as Hillsborough River (P.E.I).Est. 34
3St. Francis MassacreOctober 4, 1759Odanak, QuebecEst. 30 - 200
4Lachine massacreAugust 5, 1689Lachine, QuebecEst. 24 to 250
5Cypress Hills massacreJune 1, 1873Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan23
6Nova Scotia killings19-Apr-20Portapique, Nova Scotia22
7Bloody Falls MassacreJuly 17, 1771Kugluk/Bloody Falls Territorial Park, Nunavut20
8Dartmouth MassacreMay 13, 1751Dartmouth, Nova ScotiaEst. 7 - 20
9Bute Inlet MassacreApril 30, 1864Bute Inlet, British Columbia19
10Ecole Polytechnique massacre6-Dec-89Montreal, Quebec15
11Mark Chahal massacre6-Apr-96Vernon, B.C.9
12Shell Lake massacre15-Aug-67Shell Lake, Saskatchewan9
13Frog Lake MassacreApril 2, 1885Frog Lake, Alberta9
14Shedden massacre8-Apr-06Shedden, Ontario8
15Buffalo Narrows massacre30-Jan-69Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan7
16OC Transpo massacre6-Apr-99Ottawa, Ontario5
17Lennoxville massacre24-Mar-85Lennoxville, Quebec5
18Black Donnellys massacreFebruary 4, 1880Lucan Biddulph, Ontario5
192019 Markham home massacre28-Jul-19Markham, Ontario4
20Claresholm highway massacre15-Dec-11Claresholm, Alberta4
21Concordia University massacre24-Aug-92Montreal, Quebec4

More in Society