Elsie Perrin Williams Estate in London, Ontario.

In November of 2017 I was lucky enough to notice that the Elsie Perrin Williams estate called Windermere in northwest London was going to be open to the public and many of the rooms furnished temporarily as they would have been in her time. Immediately I put it on my calendar and my husband and I had a lovely tour there shortly afterwards.

We first noticed this unusual name when we attended university in London. Both of us wondered if this woman’s name meant she was related to my husband’s mother whose name was Jane Perrin Williams. By the time we made the connection Jane had passed away; we were not able to ask her about the similarities. We do know, however, that Jane was related to an owner of the Grand Trunk Railway and the Williams Fly Spray people but we’ve never delved into those intriguing fragments of knowledge. I suppose it is conceivable that the two were related just because of the circles those business owners would have traveled in.

On our visit to the estate we learned more about Elsie and her husband, Hadley, and the person who stayed with Elsie until she, too, died, and to whom Elsie gave a sizable bequest. The website gives a clear account of some of the history. The property was left to the city of London along with enough money to maintain it but some shenanigans on the part of London politicians meant that the money was siphoned off for the building of the new public library in downtown London. The Williams estate fell into disrepair after the death of its caretaker.

The large room where wedding receptions today are held.

Here is a shot of me in the kitchen where the preparation of food was well displayed.

My husband’s family history has another chapter to it which I learned when he received a small inheritance from his mother’s grandfather. The family owned apartment buildings in New York City which gradually fell into disrepair as over the years crooked lawyers sucked as much money out of the estate as they could. My husband’s uncle was high up in Chesebrough-Ponds and took frequent trips to New York where he succeeded in wresting the properties away from the unscrupulous lawyers and the small inheritance was divided up. The family story is that these buildings were tenement dwellings by the time the lawyers were ousted but I don’t know details.

And still today we wonder if Elsie Perrin Williams was any relation. Perhaps one day when we find a few hours of leisure time we’ll look into this. Meanwhile Elsie’s estate is there to look at and to book for occasions. If you want to read more about the estate and the people here is a link to an article about the book, Elsie’s Estate, written by Susan Bentley.

Click on the Loyalist Trilogy books below for great historical stories with satisfying endings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yesterday was Remembrance Day here in Canada or Memorial Day in the U.S. and I got to thinking again about my Uncle Frank who died in Italy in WWII. This past summer my husband and I had a special experience related to that. I’ve linked to that post here. Please click to see our family’s story about war and remembrance in photos and words.

I Came, I Saw, I Cried.

And, of course, you can always read about other wars, families, and remembrances in my Loyalist Trilogy. Links are below.

 

Click on the books below for the Loyalist trilogy:

 

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On my website you will see a few quotes from various readers about my Loyalist trilogy and I’d like to talk about one of those today. A friend of mine knows a lot about history in general and much more about the Rebellion history of Norwich; she and I spent time bicycling around that area many years ago with our young mothers’ group. No matter where we went this friend would point out places and tell the history. It was all fascinating.

With The Loyalist Legacy, I brought the Garners into my part of Ontario. I was very careful about my facts. When my friend wrote me the comment below I was so pleased I just had to put it up on my website:

“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 feel historical fiction can have lots of fiction in it but the details of actual history just have to be correct. Marie checked my facts as I’d written them and I checked over and over with reference books as well.

The fiction comes with adding fictional characters, places, details, and events. I remembered my daughter talking about a house where she cleaned for an old lady. One day the lady moved the kitchen table and pulled back a rug to reveal a door in the floor. She pulled it up and asked my daughter to go down and retrieve something for her. Beth took one look at the deep, dark hole with a rickety ladder leading down into the abyss and visions of that door slamming down over her flashed through her mind. My normally very compliant daughter just was not going down there. That scene was still in my mind when I wrote the story of two black former slaves at the time of the Rebellion of 1837. You’ll find that story near the end of The Loyalist Legacy.

The Garner family in the Loyalist trilogy are fictional even though they are based on and often named for my ancestors. I’ve had to decide what they might have looked like but draw on things I know about my father’s family to flesh them out. Someone has a widow’s peak and someone else has a prominent chin dimple. These family traits helped me give character to the fictional family. I’m not sure anyone in my family has ever said anything about the resemblance to my dad but it’s been fun for me.

I know my father told a story of a native woman coming to visit one of my ancestors, leaving her papoose on the porch while the two talked inside, and the child being carried off by a wild animal–bear or lynx, I’m not sure, as my cousin told me two different versions of the story. I decided to use the lynx because of the sly nature of cats and, believe it or not, the appeal of a lynx’s strange pointed tufts on its ear tips.

In the second book of the trilogy, The Loyalist’s Luck, I brought in the historical fact of the burning of Newark (present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake) but I also added a wonderfully sad story I discovered in my research. The residents had been given one hour to retrieve what they could from their homes before the Americans burned the town. This was in December, 1813, a very cold and snowy time of year in the Niagara peninsula. I found a story of an old lady, sick and unable to leave her bed, who was carried out into the street to watch as the Canadian Volunteers (siding with the Americans) burned her house to the ground. Through that old lady I was able to make my readers feel the absolute pain of war.

Another decision that just seemed to push itself into my mind was having Robert Garner, fictional brother of William, decide to sever off small sections of his land right where the present-day village of Thorndale is located, north of London, Ontario. Interestingly a relative of mine named Robert Garner did donate that land in the second part of the nineteenth century for municipal purposes and today there are playing fields and community buildings there. My niece’s house is actually located on the land donated by our relative. This has little to do with the plot of the book or even with the characters but it helped me add a layer of feeling that otherwise might not have been there as Robert suffered through his wife’s illness. I hope it helps my readers empathize with these characters who could very well have been real.

We never really know what facts or nuances from our own past will pop up in our writing. For me they are most pleasing. They make the story really my own. No one else could have written what I’ve written. There is an extra layer of richness that I feel each and every time I read from my work for audiences near and far. And there’s a connection to my family and my memories. If only history in school could have been taught from the point of view of the people involved instead of the memorize-the-six-reasons-for-whatever method.

 

Click on the books below for great historical stories:

 

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In the writing of my Loyalist trilogy, close to one thousand pages of fiction which delves into the history of Upper Canada, now called Ontario, one of the first Natives I named was Black Bear Claw. Part of a subplot, I called him an Indian as that was the term used at that time of little understanding between those of European descent and the Natives. Black Bear Claw comes to represent some of the things that happened to our first Nations’ People throughout the first and second book.

A severely wounded man, he is dropped off at Lucy’s cabin where she nurses him back to health. In The Loyalist’s Luck, she encounters him again in the forest about four years later, and further on in the book he comes to live with her and John at their mill near the Fort which at present-day Fort Erie across the river from Buffalo. I had the chance to tell some of the horrific history of the Mohawks who were abandoned by both the British and the Americans in their treaty making after the American Revolutionary War.

Here Lucy asks the wounded man lying on her floor what has happened since she saw him last.

“I will tell you,” he said. “But only you.” He tried to sit up but settled for leaning on one elbow, looking at her, his face more animated than she had seen it in a great while.

“I went back. To my old lands.”

“Do you mean to the United States?”

“Yes. My woman was there. And my sons.” His voice echoed his pride and she thought of the man she had known. Black Bear Claw’s words came out softly, at first, as he told Lucy things she already knew about the revolution but soon the voice took on a bereft and barren sound. He told of the savagely reduced numbers of Indians. Their rights and lands had been devastated. The war over, a whole new wave of land-hungry settlers had pushed toward the western reaches of the former colonies, this time with the support of the new states, many of whom could not see beyond their own need for land to the rights of those who had lived there for centuries.

The British were no better. Many of the Five Nations tribes had fought for the British in hopes of being on the winning side and keeping their lands but they were forsaken in the treaty negotiations. Their lands were ceded to the Americans. When Black Bear Claw finally found his people there was no peace for him in that land. He and his brothers and sisters tried to keep their traditions and their ways but instead were bribed with trinkets and alcohol until their old ways were no more.

Black Bear Claw stared beyond Lucy to some imaginary window into the past. She had no words. Presently, under the unbroken glare of the slanting sun and perhaps the kindness in her eyes, he stretched up to sit as tall as he could. “My sons are dead,” he said. “And all of my people.”

“But you came back here,” she whispered.

“I remembered a time…when a white woman,” he looked at her and continued, “when a white woman was kind.” His voice broke. Immediately he lay down again and looked away.

Near the end of The Loyalist’s Luck Black Bear Claw’s story is concluded as the denouement of this novel unfolds.

Another Native I included in my books is Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant as he was known to the white people at the time. Brant easily came to mind as he had been the topic of my Grade Eight speech which I researched, wrote and recited by memory to my class. I loved that assignment and immediately respected Joseph Brant. Somehow he was still in my subconscious when I wrote the first book in the Loyalist trilogy.

Joseph_Brant_painting_by_George_Romney_1776_2.jpg

Brant was a war chief entrusted with fighting for their Confederacy and well versed in dealing with the British and warfare in general. His pact with the British made a relationship between him and my character, John, possible. John is rescued by Brant’s warriors and brought to the Mohawk camp in New York state where the women care for his wounded friend, Frank, and John wrestles with whether to rejoin Butler’s Rangers or go back home to Lucy for the winter. I used these scenes to again look into Native ways such as the different clans within a tribe and their javelin game. Here John meets Brant for the first time.

The boy ahead of him stopped so quickly John almost ran into him. He stepped aside and John met the dark eyes of a chief staring at him. The eyes were set in a broad, determined face with a full nose, thick lips and a dark cleft in the chin. He wore a feathered head­dress, a mark of his rank, but his clothes were not Indian. Rather he wore a tan, collared shirt, and breeches of the white people.

“Who are you?” the chief barked.

“John Garner, sir. I have a farm in New York.”

The Indian stared at him.

“What is your name?” John thought he knew.

Still the Indian was silent.

“Are you Joseph Brant?”

“I am Thayendanegea, chief of the Mohawks.”

“I am honored, sir.” John dipped his head respectfully. “Are you known as Joseph Brant?”

“How do you know the horse in the pen?”

“I beg your pardon?” The topic change had jolted John. He stood tall and swallowed, breathing in the fumes of the fire. “That is my horse. It was stolen from me a few weeks ago a long way from here.” He stopped as the Indian stiffened and glared at him.

“Are you a fighter? A militia man?” The chief looked aside and his voice was soft.

John thought quickly. He didn’t know what the right answer was but he had to take a chance. “Are you Joseph Brant?”

The Indian chuckled. “I am Thayendanegea to all the Mohawk people but, yes, I am also known as Joseph Brant, friend to the great King George in England.” Suddenly his eyes bored right into John and he barked. “Who are you?”

John smiled. “I am John Garner, a cavalry man with Butler’s Rangers. I, too, am a friend to the British.”

“Sit.”

John sat cross-legged by the fire. Its warmth cast a ruddy glow over his face as he stretched his hands to the heat. “Do you know where Butler’s Rangers are now?”

Brant did know and wasted no time sharing with John, who began to trust him.

“But how did you get my horse?” John finally asked.

Brant’s eyes were patient. “We did not steal your horse. One of our hunting parties met a band of the Tuscarora, those that are fighting against the British. Our braves relieved them of the burden of their horses and brought them back here. You may have your animal back.” He nodded at John.

“Thank you, sir. My friend, also with the Rangers, is here wounded. His horse was stolen, too. May I have it back as well?”

“Certainly, if it is here. I trust your friend will soon be well.” Brant made to stand up and John hurried to do the same.

“Thank you, sir.”

Chippewa Indians Genealogy: FamilySearch Wiki

In the third book of the trilogy Chippewas by the name of Migisi and Kiwidinok have a wee child who is left on the porch as his mother sips tea inside the cabin with Catherine Garner. Here is a segment of a story my father used to tell about his ancestors and which works well in The Loyalist Legacy.

Catherine was just about to answer when a terrible cry broke their peace. She and Kiwidinok raced to the porch. A huge yellow cat of an animal crouched beside the wailing baby. It rested a giant paw on the tiny laced-in infant as though not at all sure what it had discovered. Kiwidinok howled and threw herself toward her wailing child but Catherine grabbed her and together they stared at the spiked ears with the telltale black tufts pointing straight up and the long mustard fur darkly spotted. The lynx looked toward the women but didn’t move its paw.

She thought of her rifle, as the animal’s eyes bore into her own in a staring contest the like of which she’d never before experienced. Her fingers tightened on Kiwidinok’s arm, pulling her back ever so slowly. “Shh,” she whispered, thinking to remove the threat and mollify the big cat.

But even though Kiwidinok retreated with her, the screaming went on, both hers and the child’s. Catherine willed calm into those cream and black eyes and forced deep breaths up from her own churning insides. That cat could be on them in the blink of an eye and then how could they help the child? She forced a smile.

And slipped inside. She grabbed the rifle, jerked it down, and shoved Kiwidinok aside. As she sighted along the barrel, the lynx’s eyes narrowed; it turned back to the whimpering baby. Her finger pulled the cold metal trigger but just as the shot fired a crushing blow smashed her left shoulder. She missed. Kiwidinok’s hand rested in mid air. “I thought…the baby.” The woman had destroyed her aim.

The lynx tore the child off its board and leaped off the end of the porch into the long grass around the corner of the cabin. Catherine grabbed up her rifle that had fallen and again pushed past Kiwidinok as she darted inside for bullets, knowing full well she couldn’t stop the lynx now. Outside, she raced after Kiwidinok who was already staggering around the corner.

At the front of the house they stopped and listened. Silence. They crept to the roadway. Nothing. Across the dusty strip. Still listening. Still nothing. Kiwidinok straggled along beside her, quiet at last, as she edged into the woods across the road. An eerie feeling gnawed at her innards. Was someone watching her? Or something?

Kiwidinok caught up to her. Gone was the calm and composed person who had sat across from her sipping tea just moments ago. Her hair tumbled about her face, frowsy and frazzled, her arms criss-crossed her breast, and her hands beat a soft tattoo on her arms. The worst was her eyes. Always beautiful, black, and brimming with joy, they exuded terror. Catherine pushed ahead.

She could see where the animal had dragged its find in the long grass. She dropped to study the ground. Was that blood? She stepped over it quickly, blocking Kiwidinok’s view. Not much farther along, she raised her arm and stopped. A soft crunching sound came from just up ahead in the trees. Her companion heard it, too, but this time kept quiet. They stepped closer, listening and looking.

Catherine checked the rifle but looked up when Kiwidinok strangled a sound. Ahead, partially hidden by the dead bottom branches of a tall pine, the lynx lay on the ground eating. She moved closer. The animal’s wide jaws opened to reveal for a second its terrible bloodied teeth before red paws stuffed the gaping maw once more. Kiwidinok slumped against her and she eased her to the ground.

The gun on her shoulder, she sighted once more, forced concentration, thought of Lucy’s instructive words, didn’t even breathe. This time she’d kill the beast. The trigger moved with a deadly silence until the sound erupted and the head of the lynx split into red bits flying up and floating down to the ground to settle on the already bloodied blanket of the tiny baby.

Kiwidinok groaned. She knelt down and sat on the ground, cushioned by the coppery pine needles, and cradled the woman in her arms.

Of course this is a very sad tale but I wanted to use it to accentuate the plight of this Chippewa couple and all of those First Nations people who had to find a way to live once Europeans settled in North America. My characters, Migisi and Kiwidinok, do not want to stay on the reservation set aside for them after having lived most of their lives with no such restrictions.

Today we have to be aware of all of our North American first Nations people as we celebrate Canada 150 and the beginnings of European settlement in the whole of North America. Many of us are caught in between the horrors of the residential school history which has come to light and the reality of just what constitutes a status Indian and what does not. For some of the history which has led us to this point in Canada, please take a look at Flint and Feather: The Life and Times of Pauline Johnson by Charlotte Gray. Your eyes may be opened as mine were.

These, then, are some of the sub plot themes that interested me as I told the story of the Garner family throughout the American Revolutionary War and afterwards. Of course the main story is that of John and Lucy Garner and their extended family. The books are available on Amazon and many other places. Click on cover for information below. Enjoy!

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William Lyon Mackenzie

Father of Responsible Government in Canada

Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum, Queenston, Ontario. Photo by Elaine Cougler

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.

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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.

http://www.friendsoffortgeorge.ca/brocks-monument/ website

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.

“Alfred”

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

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Librarian Susan and I beside her display of my books featured this week.

This has been a particularly busy week for me and probably for all of my readers. We are living in exciting times but occasionally we run out of time. That happened to me this week so first and foremost I apologize to my readers for being late with my blog post.

One of the reasons for my busy week is that our local library has chosen to feature three Canadian writers each week for the whole year and this is week 22, my week. The wonderful Susan let me know about this a few weeks ago but I had forgotten until I was in the library and saw the display. I’m featured with Nino Ricci and Fred Stenson, two other Canadian writers and I’m doing as much to point to Susan’s efforts for us writers as I can.

Librarian Susan Earle’s reason for undertaking this project is that we Canadians are celebrating our sesquicentennial this year. Canada morphed from being a British colony to becoming our very own country and a member of the British Commonwealth on July 1, 1867. If you do the math, we’re 150!

All this year from British Columbia to Newfoundland we are celebrating even though it’s not 150 years for every province. Some came in later. Newfoundland was not part of confederation until 1949. Nevertheless we are one proud collection of provinces and territories the sum total of which makes up our country.

Happy Birthday, Canada!

Our actual day is July 1. As my own personal celebration I offered free copies of my first book, The Loyalist’s Wife, to those who are on my special newsletter list who got here first to pick them up. I’m sorry to say those copies are now gone but you can still buy that first edition on Amazon or buy the second edition from me or on Amazon. Thanks again to all my supporters who helped me celebrate Canada 150 in this way.

This seemed a fitting way to celebrate since my Loyalist trilogy was born to tell the story of a young couple in the wilds of 1778 New York State whose lives are forever changed when he decides to join Butler’s Rangers and fight for the British and leave his wife behind on their isolated farm to try to hold on to their land. The story of the fictional Garner family moves from there through two more books to 1838 here in Ontario. I loved researching and writing this historical fiction trilogy for its riveting history and its answer to the universal question, who are we?

Of course our story would not be complete without mentioning the indigenous peoples who were here long before we Loyalists and others arrived, as my wonderful friend, Raven Murphy, has reminded me. She has encouraged her audiences to take a wider view of history. I’m happy to do that.

Here are my listings as Susan put them in her brochure:

The Loyalist’s Wife 2nd edition

The Loyalist’s Wife

by Elaine A. Cougler
When American colonists resort to war against Britain and her colonial attitudes, a young couple caught in the crossfire must find a way to survive.
Pioneers in the wilds of New York State, John and Lucy face a bitter separation and the fear of losing everything, even their lives, when he joins
Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King and leaves her to care for their isolated farm. As the war in the Americas ramps up, ruffians roam the colonies looking to snap up
Loyalist land. Alone, pregnant, and fearing John is dead, Lucy must fight with every weapon she has. With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.

Second in the Loyalist Trilogy

The Loyalist’s Luck

by Elaine Cougler
When the revolutionary war turns in favour of the Americans, John and Lucy flee across the Niagara River with almost nothing. They begin again in Butlersburg, a badly supplied British outpost surrounded by endless trees. He is off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she is left behind with her young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy–her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. With vivid scenes of heartbreak and betrayal, heroism and shattered hopes, Elaine Cougler takes us into the hearts and homes of Loyalists still fighting for their beliefs, and draws
poignant scenes of families split by political borders.

Third in The Loyalist Trilogy

The Loyalist Legacy

by Elaine Cougler
After the crushing end of the War of 1812, William and Catherine Garner find their allotted two hundred acres in Nissouri Township by following the Thames River into the wild heart of Upper Canada. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William knows he
cannot take his family back to Niagara but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and their children,
he hurries back along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return home in time for spring planting. With spectacular scenes of settlers recovering from the wartime catasttophes in early Ontario, Elaine Cougler shows a different kind of battle, one of ordinary people somehow finding the inner resources to shape new lives and a new country. The Loyalist Legacy delves further into the history of the Loyalists as they begin to disagree on how to deal with the injustices of the powerful “Family Compact” and on just how loyal to Britain they want to remain.

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It’s Ten Years!!! Since Day One of My Loyalist Trilogy Writing Journey.

The time seems to have sprouted little white wings and just flown. From that day when my son said to me “If not now, when?” and gave me the oomph I needed to start writing the trilogy, I’ve never had to wonder what to do next. Always more ideas of my own and more suggestions from others made my days way too short to get it all done.

Please join with me and celebrate!

Look Back:

Over that ten years a trilogy came to life, one that touches the history of my family and the families of other Loyalists here in Canada. The books are in print format, e-book format, and even an audio book of the first one is almost ready to made its debut. I learned how to do so many things connected with writing and publishing, all of it fun and all of it from really helpful and knowledgeable people. I am so grateful for all those along the way, many of whom are still in my Contact list, thank goodness. A special thanks to all those who’ve invited me to speak at events where I could sell my books. You are the best!

Look Ahead:

Everyone has been wondering what is in the works for me now and I’ve been a little cagey about my answer. I could write more about the Loyalists, perhaps down East either where my husband’s family originated or further East in the Atlantic provinces where most of the Loyalists escaping during the American Revolution landed. I will be getting my audio book of The Loyalist’s Wife, 2nd ed., out very soon. I am currently learning more about writing a screen treatment and script for my Loyalist trilogy. (Wouldn’t it be fun to see John and Lucy on the big screen?) And I am definitely exploring writing a book about my writing journey with a view to helping other writers. I have in mind that this will be an e-book only, at this point, but you never know.

The really big news? I’m currently working with a coach to extend my reach as a writer and speaker beyond where I have taken these things on my own. This is huge and I had to do a lot of soul-searching before shelling out the money.

Giveaway:

To thank my readers, today I am offering a free e-copy of the second edition of The Loyalist’s Wife, complete with new cover and a few changes, to all who comment below. I’ll contact you and ask for your email. Then I’ll send you the epub or pdf copy of that beautiful book. You can read it on your computer, your iPad or perhaps other reader (not sure about that). So make sure you write a nice comment below!

Also I’ve reduced the price of that book in e-book format on Amazon where you can order it for $2.99 and it will go right to your Kindle. Their rules wouldn’t let me put the price any lower. Sorry.

Both of these specials are only available until April 5 when my next post goes up. Take action! Send your friends to my site. This is a limited time offer. Afterwards it’ll be back to $4.99 US$ on Amazon.

Don’t forget to sign up for both my twice monthly newsletter and to receive notice in your InBox of my weekly blog posts. And if you’re a writer or a reader, don’t forget to write reviews, especially for my latest book, The Loyalist Legacy, on Goodreads and Amazon. You can put the same review in both places.

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey. My writing friends, my beta readers, my lifelong friends and family–all of you are part of what makes me who I am so that I can write. You are a joy which touches my very soul.

Okay. Now the mushy stuff is over!

So after somewhere around 3650 days of writing professionally and this small celebration, I’m still moving forward and I hope you’ll all come with me. Don’t forget to write a comment and win a free e-book!

 The Loyalist’s Wife, The Loyalist’s Luck, The Loyalist Legacy

by Elaine Cougler

Available at Amazon.com and many other places.

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“Is there anything you wish you had done, Mom?”

“Write a novel.” I answered my son’s question immediately surprising myself with my words.

“You’re 60 years old. You’re in perfect health, you have all that English background, you’ve read all your life, you have the time, and you have the computer skills. If not now, when?” My son took his eyes off the road for a moment to fix his blue eyes on me.

I don’t remember exactly what happened then but a week later when my husband and I arrived in Hilton Head, South Carolina, for a holiday, one of my first stops was to the local bookstore where I bought a book about writing and selling a first novel and I was off and running.

And now, here I am almost 10 years later with my historical fiction Loyalist trilogy out there in the world in various formats, an audio book soon to be released, and a book for writers about writing close to being announced. It’s been a tough but rewarding ten years for me who never wanted to retire and play cards every afternoon while wondering what part of my body would next fall apart.

It’s been mostly a terrific experience to spend most of every weekday writing, editing, marketing, and doing all the other necessities which have made my life so interesting. Hundreds of new people have enriched my life, most of them in the writing business themselves, and all of them willing to share and help me along the way.

As I celebrate this milestone I’m very aware that I could not have done this without the help of many people. Of course, my son, Kevin, whom I mentioned in the first lines of this post and my daughter, Beth, who keeps my brain ticking with new ideas and who is a great sounding board for my own ideas, are top of the list. My husband, Ron, joins them there as a ready listener to my ideas, my plans, my troubles and always encourages me to go farther. He has fueled my ambition. My sister, Linda, gone now, always kept my off-site flash drive safely in her kitchen cupboard and my brother Ross whose own achievements and then early death fueled my drive to succeed while I still could.

There have been a few missteps along the way but thanks to great and constant support from my peeps, I’ve found the way to go on. The biggest problem was when I joined an online group of great people whose mission was to help authors get published and editors and agents find worthy clients. For reasons which are not going to be aired here, I gradually sunk lower and lower as I struggled to work in that environment but I finally realized I not only could leave the group and go on but absolutely had to for my own sake. When my husband said to me in the kindest of words that I did not have to continue with my book, I took stock. He did me such a favor because I realized I had to go on for myself. I dumped that group, walked away from three prospective agents and a senior editor with Penguin in New York, and have never looked back.

Writing and finding a measure of success has given this second part of my life more meaning than I could ever have imagined. Because I’m so thankful to so many for helping me, I’ve decided to have a celebration with my online friends and those I’m so fortunate to know in person. I’m picking March 29th for my celebration blog post. I’ll have giveaways, reading suggestions, messages from other author friends about their writing and a grand prize of the whole trilogy, bound and beautiful, for some lucky person. Keep checking back here and on my twice monthly newsletters for more information. And invite your reading and writing friends to join in the fun.

Check back next week for more exciting news about March 29. Help me celebrate!

 

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The United States is famous for its Statue of Liberty, its beacon to the tired, the homeless and the poor, to paraphrase Emma Lazarus’ poem, which, along with the statue, is well known as a proud welcoming image for immigrants to the United States of America. A short time ago my husband and I had occasion to see this statue for the first time.

October, 2015, E. Cougler

The poor quality of my picture belies the thrill this Canadian felt as our ship cruised past an icon which I’ve admired from afar for many years. The magnificent country to the south of us grew from the daring exploits of all kinds of people whose varied roots and beliefs added to the richness of the new country just as a patchwork quilt is more beautiful because of the diversity of its parts.

My Loyalist Trilogy tells another story of dispossessed peoples rising again, this time in Ontario, Canada. Over 200 years ago those people chose to stay loyal to Britain, a decision which cost them dearly but which led them to be part of the exciting beginning of what is today Ontario, Canada.

They were Canada’s first refugees and over 100,000 fled from the Thirteen Colonies, soon to be the United States. About half of those landed in Canada, the rest going back to Britain or seeking sanctuary in the West Indies and other parts of the world. The point is, they were refugees. They needed shelter. They needed help. They needed to find ways to survive. And many of them found help from those First Nations peoples who were here before.

Our world today is not much different for many, many people. Fathers, mothers, children, aunts, uncles, new brides and old grannies, lonely men and put-upon women–people of all colors and religions, dreams and skill sets–all need help in one way or another. Refugees. I don’t have to mention all of the refugees created in the last few years but especially in the news these days.

Just now I’m reading a book which has opened my eyes to the meaning behind words I’ve heard about for many years: Gaza Strip, Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas, Bedouin, Hebrew, Israeli, Arab-Israeli, Sephardic Jews and many more. Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish has written I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey with the voice of truth and a sensitivity to the subject matter which only someone with his mindset could manifest. He chooses to look for answers to the Middle East tragedy, a decision which cuts into my heart for one main reason. Three of his daughters died because of the unending fighting between Arabs and Israelis.

“If I could know that my daughters were the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, then I would accept their loss.” (Words on the cover.)

And this week all of Canada is reeling from the senseless bombing of a mosque simply because it is a mosque, I guess. Six people are dead and many more injured. They were worshiping, for Heaven’s sake! Our country prides itself on opening its doors to people from all parts of the world who truly want to start a new and good life here. Oh, I’m sure we have restrictions and I’m not saying many cannot get in, but the point is we try to accept as many as we can. And Canada is stronger for it.

Just a few weeks ago a wonderful Dutch Canadian lady died. She came here with her husband and child back in the fifties because my father needed help on our growing farms and his sons were too small. Arend (who died first) and Jenny were a wonderful couple who raised a large family here, every one of whom has contributed greatly to our Canadian way of life. When I read the obituary my eyes filled with tears as I remembered this kind and joyful couple from my childhood. My husband and I counted up the descendants who came after Arend and Jenny. Hundreds. (I think they had 111 great grandchildren.)

And I thought of all the immigrants to this country, just like my ancestors, and their huge contributions to the Canada we have today. The same goes for the United States. Imagine the blessed diversity simply because so many people came to settle in the United States and Canada looking for a new life. Even those who came to North America against their will have added much more than their varied gene pool. If only we could look at our neighbors near and far and see the strengths they offer!

Driving in my car Tuesday afternoon, I turned on CBC radio to hear a talk show with an Islamic woman talking about her pride and joy at living in Canada and pleading for others to see behind her clothing to the real person inside, a person with the same interests and needs, joys and heartaches, a person who has learned to come out of her shy persona and talk to people all around her. Why? She wants them to see she is like them.

I love the way that private individuals are speaking up for what they believe and support in these difficult times. Many write songs and articles, books and speeches, all manner of heartfelt expressions of sorrow at the injustices we hear about every day. The pictures on the news of bouquets of flowers marking outpourings of sympathy and women marching along with men to celebrate those women all give me hope. We have not lost our humanity nor our charity, Christian or otherwise.

Like the refugees that were our forefathers, let us fight against all odds to make this whole world the kind of place I dare say all of the good books from all of the religions want. If we could collectively do that the word refugee would disappear from our vocabulary. That’s what happens to all unnecessary words.

My Goodreads Review of this book: I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human DignityI Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity by Izzeldin Abuelaish
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had this book on my to-read list for about 3 years and finally got to it this week. Wow! What an eye opener! Dr. Abuelaish has a way with words that allows his amazing personal beliefs to shine through his story. The book rates five stars not because its editing is perfect or its setup is the best it could be but because its human tale shines over and above all such mundane things. This is a must-read for those of us who have never truly understood the meaning of the Gaza Strip and its continuing struggles with Israel.
The author tells us from the outset about the tragic deaths of his three daughters and one niece when his home was targeted for bombing by Israeli insurgents but he amazes the world and the reader as he chooses not to hate in the wake of this despicable and avoidable act. A must read for all of us citizens of the world.

View all my reviews

The Loyalist’s Wife, The Loyalist’s Luck, The Loyalist Legacy

by Elaine Cougler

Available at Amazon.com and many other places.

 

 

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by Meagan Ashleigh-Moeyaert

by Meagan Ashleigh-Moeyaert

Have you ever wanted to sit on the sidelines and watch history unfold before your very eyes? Or perhaps you’ve wanted to be part of it, experiencing first-hand the sweat and the swirling smoke after a firing? Well, you can do either of these things. Re-enactors are a welcoming and friendly group and one has even invited me to take part in one of their weekends, even offering to share her tent with me.

These pictures of an event at Fort Erie earlier in the season come through a bit of a circuitous route from a diligent re-enactor, Ryan, who is a member of two units. He belongs to a naval unit (Simcoe Squadron) and an infantry unit (British Indian Department). And he will be at Fanshawe Pioneer Village for  Fanshawe 1812: The Invasion of Upper Canada days August 27 and 28. He has generously shared these pictures taken by Meagan Ashleigh-Moeyaert and Steve Zronik (Laughing Devil Photography). Enjoy!

 

by Meagan Ashleigh-Moeyaert

by Meagan Ashleigh-Moeyaert

 

by Meagan Ashleigh-Moeyaert

by Meagan Ashleigh-Moeyaert

 

by Steve Zronik, Laughing Devil Photography

by Steve Zronik, Laughing Devil Photography

 

by Steve Zronik, Laughing Devil Photography

by Steve Zronik, Laughing Devil Photography

 

by Steve Zronik, Laughing Devil Photography

by Steve Zronik, Laughing Devil Photography

And here’s Ryan keeping watch at the end of the day. Thanks so much to the photographers and to Ryan Moore who made this post possible. Be sure to see the re-enactors at Fanshawe the last weekend in August. I’ll be there!

by Steve Zronik, Laughing Devil Photography

by Steve Zronik, Laughing Devil Photography

 

 

 

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