The Last Duel In Canada Was Appropriately Apologetic
Canada is seen as a frozen land of deeply apologetic people, and the idea of any Canadians choosing to settle a dispute with a duel to the death seems outlandish. Duels were common up north, though. The last duel on what is now Canadian soil took place in Newfoundland, which was not yet part of Canada, but the duel was undoubtedly Canadian. Two friends were so sorry about what they were doing that one of them passed out from the stress.
Our two duelists were Augustus Healey and Denis (sometimes recorded as Din) Dooley, two longtime friends who in 1873 found themselves in a bit of a dilemma. They both loved the same woman, Healey’s significant other known to history only as Miss White. So, as good 19th-century gentlemen, the two saw only one way to end this dispute: a duel.
Today, this may seem like an extreme way to settle things, and back then, the people who knew Healey and Dooley agreed that this was indeed an extreme way to settle things. On September 25, the two men met on the dueling grounds. Before they were to literally shoot their shot to metaphorically shoot their shot, their seconds, Fred Burnham and Thomas Allan, met up. In a duel, seconds were representatives who negotiated the rules of the duel, inspected pistols to ensure fairness, and negotiated for peace if possible.
Burnham and Allan didn’t need to negotiate much, as they were very much on the same page: the duel was a dumb idea. Healey and Dooley were too close to let something like this get between them. And it especially wasn’t worth killing each other for. With this agreement, Allan and Burnham made the decision to remove the ammunition from the dueling pistols without the duelists’ knowledge. Healey and Dooley could still pretend to be macho tough guys, but when they fired their guns, they would be firing blanks.
This was, humorously, seen as a major violation of dueling protocol. Men should be allowed to shoot each other as they please!
At the duel, Healey and Dooley each took a dueling pistol and stepped ten paces from one another. Both men raised their pistols, which they still believed were loaded, and fired. Dooley immediately became terrified about the idea of killing his best friend and fainted. Healey watched as his opponent fell and felt Canadian levels of sorrow.
Luckily for the two dumb duelists, the seconds knew that the two men would have a reaction like that. Dooley eventually woke up, and Healey was ecstatic that he didn’t actually kill his buddy. After learning that the guns were empty, Healey and Dooley knew they still had the matter of their initial argument to settle, so they chose a less-fatal way of getting their frustrations out. They fought with their fists, and Healey knocked Dooley out, finally ending the conflict.
And in an appropriate ending for such a stupid occasion, neither dude got the girl. Unbeknownst to the two duelists, Miss White was completely capable of making her own decisions. She decided that neither guy was worth it and instead later married someone different entirely.
At least Healey and Dooley were still alive, though.
Top Image: Bauce and Rouget/Wiki Commons