"Happy-go-lucky Fellow": lone-actor terrorism, masculinity, and the 1966 bombing on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

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On 18 May 1966, Paul Joseph Chartier blew himself up outside the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa. His target had been Members of Parliament but he succeeded in killing only himself. The bombing received widespread attention at the time and prompted an investigation involving both the RCMP and FBI. Using the more than 1300-page file compiled by the police and taking an interdisciplinary approach, including drawing upon and critiquing relevant terrorism studies scholarship, this article examines Chartier’s deed in the context of lone-actor terrorism, both within Canada and internationally. Ultimately, it concludes that why Chartier carried out the attack is unknowable. However, the article argues that there was a strong correlation between the motivation for Chartier’s act of extreme violence and masculinity, a connection often ignored in scholarship about terrorism, especially lone-actor terrorism. Chartier fell considerably short of the hegemonic masculine ideals of post-war Canada, which he blamed, in populist fashion, on a corrupt Canadian political system. In the end, he turned to a traditional response by some men, both in Canada and internationally, an act of extreme violence, to salvage something from his life by striking back against those he blamed for his failures in life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-68
Number of pages23
JournalThe Canadian Historical Review
Issue number1
Early online date26 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • terrorism
  • counterterrorism
  • lone-actor terrorism
  • masculinity
  • violence
  • perpetrator studies
  • terrorism studies
  • RCMP
  • FBI


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