The Sunday Edition

One hundred years later, a new book chronicles the tale of a missing millionaire

On Dec. 2, 1919, a wealthy theatre impresario went missing in Toronto. His last recorded action was to deposit a cheque for one million dollars and no one knew what had happened to middle-aged man. Writer Katie Daubs chronicles this perplexing mystery, which occurred at the dawn of the twentieth century.
Katie Daubs is a Toronto Star reporter and writer. Her new book The Missing Millionaire traces the disappearance of wealthy man Ambrose Small in Toronto in 1919. (Penguin Random House, Richard Lautens)
Listen26:36

On Dec. 2, 1919, the wealthy theatre impresario Ambrose Small left his home in the Rosedale neighbourhood of Toronto. He went to the barber for a shave. 

He met his wife for lunch and then walked her to an engagement at a nearby Catholic orphanage. At some point that afternoon, he went to the bank and deposited a cheque for a million dollars. He had a quick meeting with his lawyer. 

That was the last anyone ever saw of him.  

The slight man with a walrus mustache had promised his wife he'd be home for dinner, but he never showed up. 

Was he murdered? Abducted? Or did he run off to begin a new life? A hundred years later, no-one knows, and not for want of trying. 

Ambrose Small has been a subject of literary interest before. Michael Ondaatje's award-winning In the Skin of a Lion originally centered on the missing man. This was until Ondaatje found the characters surrounding Small were more interesting to him. (Toronto Star/Knopf Random Vintage Canada )

In her new book, The Missing Millionaire: The True Story of Ambrose Small and the City Obsessed With Finding Him, Katie Daubs tells a whodunit story rife with accusations and curious coincidences. 

It is as perplexing as it is dramatic — bursting with flamboyant characters, a disgruntled wife, an ex-lover, showgirls, and a smarmy ex-cop turned private investigator. 

Click 'listen' above to hear the interview.

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