An island, a 'Man Of Mystery' ...
and a church supper to die for
The annual Scene of the Crime Festival celebrates Wolfe Island's heritage as the birthplace of Canada's first crime writer with an event devoted to mystery
readers. And it's no mystery why it's such a success: The combination of Canada's top mystery writers, local history, and a home-made church supper is hard to
So who is Canada's first crime writer, our international man of mystery?
He is not a man whom any common sharper can take in, is Charles Vandrift. Middle height square build, firm mouth, keen eyes — the very picture of a sharp and
successful business genius. I have only known one rogue impose upon Sir Charles, and that one rogue, as the Commissary of Police at Nice remarked, would
doubtless have imposed upon a syndicate of Vidocq, Robert Houdin, and Cagliostro.
So begins An African Millionaire: Episodes In The Life of the Illustrious Colonel Clay. First serialized in June of 1896 in London's The Strand — the magazine
famous for bringing the world Sherlock Holmes — An African Millionaire introduced a plot device that remains a staple: The roguish thief is actually the story's
hero. That guaranteed the story's creator, Grant Allen, a place in international crime writing history.
Born in 1848 on Wolfe Island, Allen is also an important figure in Canadian literary history. "Grant Allen was the first Canadian to write crime stories
professionally," says David Skene-Melvin, the undisputed expert on the history of Canadian crime fiction and the Scene of the Crime festival's resident scholar.
"He also made a significant contribution to the genre in international terms."
Allen lived at Wolfe Island's Ardath Chateau, the family manor of the Baron de Longueuil family, until he was 13, when the family left Ontario for the United
States and then England. There he became a close friend and next-door neighbour of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. Allen is still read,
admired, and much-discussed at conferences and symposia.
Allen is the inspiration for the Scene of the Crime Festival, Wolfe Island's celebration of its important cultural and historical legacy as the birthplace of
Canadian crime writing.
We welcome you to visit our festival this summer and share in our local history, our mysterious goings-on with some of Canada's top crime writers, and our old-fashioned
church supper. Keep your fork! There's home-made pie for dessert.