William Lyon Mackenzie
Father of Responsible Government in Canada
A few weeks ago I was in Queenston, a small town along the Niagara River below Niagara Falls with a huge part in our Canadian history. In the building at right, which today houses the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum, lived for a short time a man who is called the father of responsible government here, William Lyon Mackenzie.
Outside the beautifully restored stone building this inoperable press stands guard, a stalwart signal that this is a place of importance. Indeed it is.
For this was the place where Mackenzie lived when he turned his newspaper, The Colonial Advocate, into a vehicle of truth about the government of the day.
‘The Family Compact’, so-called because they shared among themselves all the important posts in Britain’s government of Upper Canada, raised the ire of many, including Mackenzie. In my second book of the Loyalist trilogy, the Garner family suffer the injustices visited upon them and their neighbours by this self-serving group. Men like William Lyon Mackenzie began to speak up for a better government.
Mackenzie was only in this home during 1823 and 1824 but a wonderful committee of volunteers undertook to save the building and turn this into a premier remembrance of Mackenzie’s living here for that time and of spectacular exhibits of the history of printing. The two are closely linked because Mackenzie used that medium to spread his word among the rebels and others of his day.
Check out the backgrounds of those on the board for a who’s who in the printing world that have carried on this tradition of volunteering their time to preserve the past. I’ll leave their web pages to tell the story. The photos are fantastic!
Major General Sir Isaac Brock
Bravely Died At Queenston Heights
In The Loyalist’s Luck one of my characters is present when Brock is killed. Robert is fighting for the Americans while his family is on the British side. They are forced up from the Niagara River into the gunfire coming from Queenstown Heights.
Robert heard the constant barrage of guns off to his left as, alone, he stepped out of the thicket at the top of the hill, but all seemed quiet here. He crept along, hunched over, his hands gripping his rifle, barely breathing.
Suddenly voices sounded ahead of him and he clenched his weapon. Not fifty feet away a tall red-jacketed officer wearing a brightly coloured sash and a hat decked out with gold braid and a white ostrich feather broke out of the trees and ran toward him. Robert dug in his feet and with shaking hands fired his weapon. Back into the thicket he flew, the falling white-haired officer filling his mind as he tore down the path to the shelter below. His chest heaved and his heart threatened to leap out of it both for the running and for his fear, which grew and grew. He thought he recognized the man he had felled.
No one really knows who killed General Brock. I used that fact to suggest that my fictional character, Robert, shot him in the above scene.
And, of course, very close by is the huge monument erected in memory of Sir Isaac Brock after that day. The photo above belies the actual height of this monument at 56 metres (185 feet).
On the Mackenzie Printery site stands another monument, this one to a horse. That’s right, a horse. His name was “Alfred” and he was Sir Isaac Brock’s mount on his famous ride from Fort George across the seven miles to Queenston to repel the American attack of October 13, 1812.
Below is the printing that is on the plaque in the photo above. Alfred’s likeness is enclosed in the glass and just through the trees above, Brock’s monument stands on guard.
Early on the morning of October 13, 1812, after galloping seven miles from Fort George, General Brock tethered his gray horse here in the village of Queenston in order to lead a charge on foot to repel the invading enemy. Brock was killed leading the attack.
Colonel Macdonell then took command until General Sheaffe could arrive from Fort George with reinforcements. Macdonell rode “Alfred” to lead another charge. He was mortally wounded and Alfred was killed, part of the price of saving Canada on that fateful day.
Both of these amazing historical figures found their way into my Loyalist Trilogy and are part of Canadian History. This year we Canadians are celebrating our sesquicentennial, 150 years since confederation in 1867. Brock and Mackenzie, in different ways and many years before, laid the groundwork for Canada coming into existence.
The Loyalist Trilogy