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Distributed for On Point Press

Clara at the Door with a Revolver

The Scandalous Black Suspect, the Exemplary White Son, and the Murder that Shocked Toronto

The story of bigotry, passion, and cold-blooded murder that centers on one of Canada’s most controversial true-crime figures.

In the autumnal darkness of October 6, 1894, an unseen figure rang the doorbell at the Parkdale home of a well-to-do Toronto family and then shot Frank Westwood in his doorway.

Weeks later, Clara Ford, a Black tailor and single mother known for her impeccable work ethic, resolute personality, and predilection for wearing men’s attire, was arrested for the killing. She confessed to the murder but as the details of her arrest and her complex connection to the Westwood family emerged, Clara recanted, testifying that she was coerced by police into a false confession.

Carolyn Whitzman tells the compelling story of a courageous Black woman living in nineteenth-century Toronto and paints a portrait of a city and a society that have not changed enough in one hundred twenty-five years.

336 pages | 20 line drawings | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Black Studies

History: Urban History

Women's Studies


"A fascinating exploration of a part of Toronto’s history that deserves a new telling."

the Toronto Star

"Whitzman paints a picture not only of what most likely may have happened, but also of the lives of the people involved in the case, from the victim and the accused to the police officers, lawyers, and judge involved in the eventual trial, and even a man who probably shouldn’t have been so easily dismissed as a suspect." 

Quill & Quire

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