It is really time. Time to stop hiding the history of our past–no matter what country we live in–and tell the truth.
I always call myself a flag-waving Canadian because of my pride in this country. I think we live in a fantastic country where most people support the idea of working together to build lives here for everyone.
Every so often, though, some big fat ugly snake pokes its head up out of the sand of our smushed down secret past and I despair.
A number of years ago that snake with a forked tongue was the uproar about the residential schools that were set up when our country was much younger in order to teach our native people’s children. Sounds good, right?
In essence those schools stripped all of the students of their native language and of their own indigenous history, and the stories of abuse of children ripped from their parents and their homes and forced to live among strangers, many of whom abused them horribly, have sickened me and millions like me. The repercussions will be felt for generations.
Recently news outlets in North America hissed out reports of police brutality towards Blacks. Yes, I know. This is a terribly painful subject. And I do need to escape the pain sometimes. One thing I’ve noticed, however, in the aftermath of these brutal stories is the number of people of colour finding a prominent place on my television screen as intelligent, worthy, insightful, moral and likeable human beings. Hurrah!
Coiled up with that fight against systemic racism is the fight of women around the world to end violence and unfair treatment against them simply because they are women. I have had my own share of those fights about unfair treatment over my lifetime, although, thankfully, not in any way showing itself in violent acts against my person.
I fought to be recognized in the church bulletin by my own name, not by my husband’s name (Mrs. R. Cougler) when I was our church choir leader. I spoke out loudly about my drug store taking my regular personal prescription and giving me the bill in the following manner: Mr. R. Cougler For Elaine. As though I was somehow my husband’s ward. I have stood up for my rights as a woman and as a person in my teaching career on many occasions, the details of which I will not mention in order to protect the guilty.
In my Loyalist novels my sentiments about the plight of the “Indians” and the slaves are clear. Particularly in The Loyalist Legacy, I address both of those systemic wrongs, I hope, in a compassionate and intelligent manner, showing the humanity of those involved. It is who I am.
Just this month, however, I read some horrifying accounts of free Blacks coming to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to escape the slave culture in the Thirteen Colonies which became the United States of America.
My Loyalist Background
Because of my own Loyalist background and several of the books I’ve written I have been the guest speaker at many UELAC branch meetings. That has led me to sign up for their weekly newsletter and learn more from the amazing historians who every week contribute knowledgeable and well-researched articles about various Loyalist histories.
One of those most interesting writers is Stephen Davidson UE. I have referenced his work before in my blog posts or newsletters. He is very generous with his well-documented research.
In a recent issue of the Loyalist Trails, Stephen’s article mentioned Black Loyalists who came to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and how they were forced to live. Blacks were not given the same treatment as white Loyalists. Stephen’s stories of them living in 5 foot by 5 foot holes dug into a hillside and topped with small peaked roofs one side of which had a trap door for entry got my attention.
The second book has not arrived yet but I have started the first one and it is full of historical information that the author has had to dig long and hard to find. This is partly because of fire and other disasters and also because of the will of historians to preserve facts as perceived through their own looking glass.
I look forward to finishing both of these books so that I can add to my knowledge of how Black Loyalists were treated as opposed to other Loyalists. I will definitely share what I find.
“Elaine, I enjoyed reading your story about growing up in Oxford County. (My Story, My Song) As I read along I kept saying to myself …yes, I remember that. I knew/ know some of the people you mentioned as well. Your river story reminded me of our three season farm ponds which were so massive we felt sorry for the poor kids in town who had to skate in a circle and could only change direction when the whistle blew. I was not impressed with that when I first skated in an arena and yes I also started out with second hand black skates.” Bernice
“Elaine, I just finished your book, The Loyalist’s Daughter. It was a great read and is hard to imagine how someone can put together such a book. Well done!”
Terry and Sally
“We both loved The Loyalist’s Daughter. So happy we have a ‘signed’ copy. Thanks for doing that.” Carol and Dennis.
“What a remarkable book! I just finished yesterday….It is one of those books that, at the end of each chapter, the urge is to ‘just read one more chapter’ before turning out the light….I had no idea what is involved in organizing such a fund raising venture and ventures across Canada and you explained it so well….[This] book that you wrote on his life and huge contributions needed to be written….Thanks for putting your writing skills to work into the life of Ron Calhoun.” John Snoddy
“Just finished your first book in your Loyalist trilogy – really, really enjoyed it. Those folks sure were hardy types in those days – I don’t think I could even survive a walk to the outhouse – hahaha. Looking forward to reading the next one.” Lisa Hutchison
“I loved the book. [The Man Behind the Marathons] So glad for the way you set it up. It kept me reading. And then the section on Ron came just as I was about headed to Google to see what led Ron to be the guy he was. The quality of the paper was a real asset. Top quality for a top quality story about a top quality guy. Congratulations. I felt your heart in every page. Thanks for letting me have an early look at the book. Very cherished.” Sue Hilborn
“Just finished your book. [The Man Behind the Marathons] It is great – so many interesting things about Terry and Steve (whom I had forgotten about). Ron’s story is, if possible, even more interesting. I can see why you were drawn into his life as a suitable subject for your first nonfiction. I did wonder how Ron’s one set of clothes washed by his mother every night were dry for school the next morning . . . and which race your ‘young daughter’ beat you in.” Wayne C.
“Just finished all three and enjoyed the stories as they were woven into the history of that area. Congratulations!” Lorrie Miller on Facebook, reacting to The Loyalist Legacy‘s Chill With a Book Award.
“It was a pleasure to be at the LWS meeting last night. Great information shared. Love your books and writing style. I will give them as gifts. They bring this time in history to life in a way that one will never forget. Thank you!” Rosemary
“Elaine Cougler has written a page-turning novel of the American Revolution through the eyes of a conflicted loyalist soldier and his indomitable wife. You’ll feel the hardship of homesteading, the fear of the enemy, the blows of battle, and the pain of separation. You’ll be transported through history. This is not just a novel written about another time, it seems written in another time.” Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans, Stephen Leacock medal winner
“I bought all three books at Probus club meeting in London. I loved the stories. I am now a student reading more about the war of 1812. Thank you for your stories. Love your writing style.” Gwen Moore
“I was delighted with the way you handled the Norwich Rebellion in the last Loyalist book, Elaine, and have heard many positive comments about it.” Marie A.
“I’m an impatient reader. If my interest isn’t piqued right from the get-go, I simply don’t continue reading the book. Both of the Loyalist books drew me in immediately!” Elaine B
“The Loyalist’s Luck is one of the best sequels I’ve read in a long time. It picks up right where The Loyalist’s Wife left off and takes the reader to Canada with a group of Loyalists escaping the American Revolution.” Denise F