Mesdames of Mercy

You may think that the Mesdames of Mayhem spend  their time thinking up ways to eliminate people in the most gruesome possible manner but this is not always true. We are also out there in the community, doing our best to help our fellow human beings. For some of us, it is fund raising, for others it is physical help but we all have projects that are dear to our hearts. Read on to see the  kinder, gentler side of the Mesdames.

From Mme. M.H. Callway:

Madeleine Harris-CallwayIn 2008, a close family friend, who’s an accomplished cyclist, told us about a new charity event: a 200+ km bike ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls to support cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital. We had both lost many friends and family members to this horrible disease, so I jumped at the chance.

Our first Ride to Conquer Cancer was a life-changing event. People of all ages and levels of fitness took part, riding pricy racing machines to old clunkers they’d hauled out of the garage. Traffic control was handled by a (friendly) motor cycle club. Route signs and riders – including me – got lost. The route itself was super hilly and tough. But together we all raised $14 million!

Since 2008, the Ride has gone from strength to strength, raising $140 million to date, making it one of the most successful fundraising events in Canadian history!!

Today nearly 5000 riders raise a minimum of $2500 each to participate in the 2-day event. The police handle traffic control although the motor cycle club still helps out. And the route has far fewer hills.

Best of all, cancer research supported by the Ride has helped treat – and cure – many patients at PMH, including personal friends of ours.

This June will be my 9th Ride. I thank my many wonderful supporters for their generous donations year after year. And I intend to keep going as long as my quads let me!

From Mme. Rosemary McCracken:

Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken

I volunteer with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an organization that brings emergency food, clothing and furniture relief to the poor. Vincentians operate out of Catholic parishes, but we don’t just help parishioners. Social Services refers people from all backgrounds who are in need in our area to us.

Since I’ve been doing this (for about 8 years), I’ve become painfully aware of the neediness in our city. Making food deliveries on Saturday mornings, I’ve been to apartments with no furniture—just mattresses on the floor. I’ve been to illegal rental units you wouldn’t want a dog to live in. Some of the people we’ve helped just had temporary setbacks and were able to turn their situations around. But the vast majority have mental or substance abuse problems, and will need ongoing assistance.

Mme. McCracken’s newest mystery, Raven Lake, will be launched on  June 1st on line and on June 25th at Sleuth of Baker Street.

From Mme. Catherine Astolfo:

Many of my volunteer hours have, at this writing, gone to my local library. That sounds very self-serving and, in many ways, it is. However, I have given writing courses and panels for free in order to encourage new writers, so I feel good about that.

Cathy Astolfo

Cathy Astolfo

I also volunteered for my local political party during election time. Also self-serving, since I ran into some characters I can use in stories one of these days. I’m also part of a group called Positive Energy Practice, which does presentations in schools to inspire self-confidence. I give my time without compensation for the writing, planning and meetings. My grandson and I have also applied to volunteer for our local Food Bank, picking up and delivering donations. That should keep me busy and add more characters to the list, I should think. As long as they accept a crime writer!

Mme. Astolfo’s newest mystery, Operation Babylift,  was launched May 14th.

From Mme. Joan O’Callaghan:

Joan O'Callaghan

Joan O’Callaghan

Every year I participate in a crafting weekend  as a fundraiser for cancer research.  It is called Crop for the Cure, as most participants, myself included, are scrapbookers.  Originally, this weekend was held in support of women’s cancers but more recently has expanded its mandate to include all cancers.We meet at a location in Oakville.  In addition to the registration fee which covers expenses for the weekend, we are required to raise a minimum of $50 for cancer research.  We craft, play games, and bid on silent auction and door prize items donated by local merchants, and generally have a good time.  And the food, which is plentiful, is always good!! My favourite game is Chocolate Bar Bingo.  One “pays” two chocolate bars per card.  Twice I have won the “full card” game, which netted me about 40 chocolate bars each time.  I am forced to share my winnings with my sister who hasn’t been so lucky!

Mme. O’Callaghan will be signing her late husband’s memoir, Maverick Publisher:J. Patrick O’Callaghan, at Chapters in the Bayview Mall on Saturday, May 28th.

More on the Mesdames of Mercy in June.


News Flash from Mme. Cheryl Freedman, Co- Organizer of this year’s Bony Blithe Awards:

skeleton w book in hand and books in bg final w shadowOnly 5 days left to register for the 2016 Bony Blithe Mini-Con plus Award Banquet and Birthday Party.

Yes, my criminous friends, a mini-con featuring (a) two panels (run consecutively), (b) books for sale, (c) autographs to score, (d) nibblies throughout the afternoon, (e) the award banquet/birthday party in the evening, and, of course, (f) a great chance to get together with friends from far and near to schmooze.

Our first panel has our finalists reimagining their light mysteries as thrillers or police procedurals.  Our second panel, which includes Mme Mel Campbell, explores whether dark and light mysteries are points on a continuum or two sides of a coin.

The event runs from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, May 27, and is at the High Park Club, 100 Indian Road, Toronto. The club is easy to get to by transit or by car, and it has lots of FREE onsite parking. And the bar prices at the club are anything but criminal.

The cost for all this fun is only $50. To register and pay, visit  If you are buying more than one ticket, email to tell us the other person’s meal choice. If you don’t want to pay by Paypal, email to arrange another way to register and pay.

See you on May 27 for a grand afternoon and evening of law and disorder!




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