Acorn Press will release a deep dive into Island history, The Rosary and the Rifle: the Murder of Mary Ann MacKinnon by Island author Ernie MacAulay this May.
The non-fiction title explores the MacAulay/MacKinnon family history and grapples with the deeply troubling trial of Joey MacDonald, the impact of which continues to reverberate through their descendents alive today.
On July 1, 1931, Mary Ann MacAulay married John Charles ‘JC’ MacKinnon at St. Mary’s Church in Souris, PEI. This mother of 12 children was a busy farmer’s wife, whose optimism shone through her weekly column in The Charlottetown Patriot entitled “Mrs. Wiggs and Her Garden Patch.” Mrs. Wiggs’ writings not only identify her as an astute observer and chronicler of local events, educational issues, agricultural practices and economic issues, but also that Mary Ann was one of Mother Nature’s admirers.
Mary Ann’s oldest child, Estelle, was 19 years old in 1951. Not long after graduating Grade 11, Estelle was assaulted by an ex-boyfriend, Joey MacDonald. Before Joey’s trial for attempted rape, Mary Ann and family sat down to say the Rosary. About halfway through, they heard glass breaking. Immediately when the sound was heard, Mary Ann swayed on her seat and fell backward. Her family members saw blood coming from behind her left ear and they then realized she had been shot. Mary Ann died on the second anniversary of her husband’s death leaving behind eleven orphaned children.
Author Ernie MacAulay was born and raised in St. Catherine’s, PEI and is the grandnephew of the case’s victim, Mary Ann MacKinnon. He worked in federal policing and commercial crime investigations units for much of his career. As a member of the RCMP, he filled a variety of roles including Officer in Charge of the Vancouver Commercial Crime Section and Officer in Charge of Richmond Detachment. This law enforcement background, combined with dedicated academic research and ancestral history, has formed the basis for Ernie’s insights into the legal issues at the heart of this story. He retired from the RCMP in 2001 and currently lives in Charlottetown.
The Rosary and the Rifle is available in May where books are sold.