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. On their valuable land straddling the river, dense forest, wild beasts, displaced Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. 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 catastophes 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.
A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and Rebellion of 1837 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles. She lives today in the heart of Ontario and is the descendant of Loyalists who lived through the times of which she writes. www.elainecougler.com
The Loyalist Legacy is the third book in the Loyalist series. I did not read the first two but that did not deter me from understanding what the story was about. The Loyalists were people who stayed loyal to the crown after the Revolutionary War. After they were defeated a lot of them moved to Canada, in Ontario near Niagara Falls. In this particular story we have William and Catherine Garner who eke out an existence on their two hundred acres. The novel starts out with Catherine alone with the children because her husband has gone to seek his brother Robert, who has gone to find their parents as they have disappeared from their home . Turns out that their father John has been arrested and put in jail for no reason other than the fact he was a Loyalist and because of one mans, John Strachan, hatred of the Loyalists. Bishop Strachan was the first Anglican Bishop in the area and was very political. He did not believe that the voice of the people was the voice of God.
The story spans 20 years and includes the struggles the families have with the Family Compact which is a group of men who exercised most of the political, economic and judicial power in Upper Canada (modern Canada) led by Bishop Strachan. There is political upheaval throughout the whole story but these people are strong, the reader gets to read about how these people survived the harsh winters, and the environment. There is also a bit about the slaves who ran away from their owners and how they are hunted, and how the Garners help these people along their way to relocate into Canada, not unlike the underground railroad that was prevalent during the Civil War. The Garners also befriended a Chippewa family that Catherine had taken in and fed and clothed. The family had left the reservation because there was hardly any game left on a small parcel that was given to the Chippewa's.
The town thrives and grows with the addition of a school, a general store and of more people coming to the area and settling down. There are many different characters that help to tell the story of this family, births, deaths and marriages that make this story very readable. Many characters are from history but the Garner family is fictional but it does give the reader an insight into the difficult life was for settlers in this era.
I loved the story, learned about the area and the history of Ontario which was interesting, and just loved the story of life for one family. If you love historical fiction, this series should please you.
This review is voluntary.