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Date: August 29, 2005

Student Sleuths Have More "Cold Cases" To Solve

LutzLutz Student sleuths will soon have more historical mysteries to solve on the “Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History” website. An additional $457,000 from Canadian Heritage under the Canadian Culture Online program will fund three new mysteries on the popular national website.

History students and teachers will be able to sift through online evidence about a suspicious, devastating Montreal fire in 1734, the mass murder of an Ontario family in 1880, and the mysterious death of Doukhobor leader Peter Verigin near Brilliant, B.C., in 1924. The new additions to the website’s current three mysteries will be developed by the project’s co-director, University of Victoria historian Dr. John Lutz, and research teams in various areas of the country.

“In the mysteries project we turn students into historian detectives and invite them to do the exciting work of history. Normally, we tell students what happened when we teach history, but in this project we ask them to tell us,” says Lutz.

“Torture and Slavery: Angélique and the Burning of Montreal” is one of the new mysteries under development. Marie Angélique was a black slave accused of setting fire to Montreal in 1734 to cover an escape with her salt-smuggling lover, an exile from France. She confessed under torture to starting the fire, but she also stayed with her mistress to help save her possessions while the fire burned. Did she really start the fire?

“Stones from Heaven and Hell on Earth: The Massacre of the Black Donnellys” is the story of a family killed by a mob in 1880 Ontario. One young boy survived to identify the mob’s ringleaders, including the local constable. Two trials ended without a guilty verdict, but why?

The third new mystery, “The Explosive Death of Peter Lordly Verigin,” details the 1924 explosion of a train car near Brilliant, B.C. Verigin, the aristocratic leader of the Doukhobor religious community, was killed, as were his 20-year-old female companion, a member of the legislative assembly, and four other people. Many theories about those responsible for the explosion abound. Was it dissident Doukhobors, government agents, old Russian enemies, or something else?

Once the new sites are up and running they will be offered in both English and French. Ultimately, Lutz says, he hopes to have 13 mysteries on the site for students to solve.

The unsolved mysteries project is a partnership of UVic, l’Université de Sherbrooke, Mount Royal College, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, The Critical Thinking Consortium, and Hot House Marketing. Each of the new mysteries will have teachers’ guides, a virtual 3D component, and WebQuests—targeted assignments for students from kindergarten to Grade 12.
Media contacts:
Dr. John Lutz (History) at (250) 721-7392 or jlutz@uvic.ca
(Dr. Lutz will be unavailable on Aug. 29 from 2 to 4 p.m.)
Jessica Gillies (UVic Communications) at (250) 472-5667 or ucom1@uvic.ca

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Student Sleuths Have More "Cold Cases" To Solve Images

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