Double Trap


A dozen years before the Black Donnellys were butchered at Lucan, Ontario, another murderous rampage took place a few miles away. On June 6, 1868, three men robbed and killed a rich farmer, his wife, and her unborn child. They concocted an alibi, stuck to it, and almost got off. In fact, two of them did.

The third, Nicholas Melady, went to prison and fell in love with a beautiful woman in a nearby cell. There to entrap him, she listened, learned, and led him to the gallows. When he was hanged in Goderich, hundreds watched, but thousands were late for the spectacle. They were bitterly disappointed because they had missed the last public hanging in Canada.


"A True crime story that combines Canadian history with thrilling writing worthy of a popular murder mystery, Double Trap: The Last Public Hanging in Canada is worth a read by any individual fascinated by true crime or our country's hidden history." Brandon Sun, November 6, 2005

"John Melady is a gifted story teller, who has offered an interesting glimpse into his family history, and in doing so, allows the reader to see the complexities of the law, and justice in another time and place, very close to our own surroundings in Ontario."


Joan Sutter, Shelf Life, Spring 2006

"John Melady has turned his family skeleton into an absorbing mix of social history and true-crime thriller."

Maclean’s Magazine (October, 2005)

About the Author

John Melady

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

John Melady

John Melady is a veteran writer on Canadian history and space exploration. His many books include Pearson's Prize, Canadians in Space, Korea, and Heartbreak and Heroism. He lives in Egmondville, Ontario.