Today, I welcome Elaine Cougler back to my blog. This post marks her fifth appearance since 2013 when she introduced the first of her Loyalist books. Amazing!
Elaine and I set this date a few months back to coincide with the release of her third book in her Loyalist trilogy. The Loyalist Legacy continues the saga of a little-known part of Canadian and U.S. history.
It really is a coincidence that I’m publishing this post today, one week after the presidential election in the United States where loyalties are being questioned, and some folks talk about moving to Canada. Elaine takes us back to the time of the Revolutionary War when not everyone wished to leave the British Empire. The parallels are stunning. Here’s Elaine Cougler to explain:
Who Were the Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War?
The phenomenon of Loyalists—those loyal to a certain person or cause—is definitely not new, but during the American Revolutionary War it took on a special significance. Many of the settlers in the Thirteen Colonies did not want their government to separate from the British even though they, too, experienced the bitter taste of the Stamp Act and other debilitating measures.
Today, Britain, the United States, and Canada are great allies so it is hard to believe that two hundred years ago such was not the case. My trilogy follows the story of how the Loyalists came to be and their difficult journey to what is Canada today.
These Loyalists chose to escape from the Colonies rather than be harried and hounded for their beliefs as the Patriots grew ever more powerful. Many (about half of those who left the Thirteen Colonies) went to the new land that came to be called Canada.
The British government chose to reward their choice by giving them land and the bare necessities needed to start anew but also went on to allow these Loyalists to use the initials U.E. after their names. Unity of the Empire is the strict legal meaning although today U.E.L. is often used. This is translated to United Empire Loyalist in the vernacular.
Many people wonder why these people chose as they did, a question I’ve used in my trilogy to explain John’s decision to join Butler’s Rangers (in the first book, The Loyalist’s Wife) and fight for the British. By this third book, he has not fully explained his reasons, and on his deathbed whispers the story of his youth, which caused his loyalty to remain through all the trials he and his family have withstood. Lucy and two of his grown sons are with him as he begins to tell of a certain British officer who saved his young life.
Here is part of John’s story from The Loyalist Legacy:
He followed a long line of prisoners up the gangplank and along the deck where he could see heads bobbing down into the hold; if they didn’t move smartly a sailor smacked them with a club.
“Stay by me, boy,” the harlot twisted around to whisper. “I’ll see no harm comes to ye.”
He didn’t answer. The harlot stepped into the hatch. Just as his bare foot slipped on the treacherous decking, a hand clapped onto his shoulder and stopped him. The harlot jerked to a stop also as they were still chained together. She wheeled around. “What trick is that, boy?” She gnashed her blackened teeth at him.
“Hush, woman.” A soft voice from behind John silenced her. He righted himself on the slippery decking. “Come. All of you.” He indicated the two behind still connected to their snaking line.
“Hold!” Three muskets jabbed toward the prisoners who stopped like the pawns they were in this elaborate game that had been playing forever. “Release ‘em!” Beside John the musket jabbed into his friend’s British red chest.
“I want the boy!”
“You’ll not get ‘im.” The guard pushed John toward the gaping hole and into the harlot who had stepped back up to the deck. The weight of the chain on the other two kept them both from careening down into the depths of the ship. This was hopeless, John thought, but just as he resigned himself to entering that foul hold his friend spoke again.
“Cut the chains.” He dangled a cloth purse bulging and clinking in front of the man’s eyes, suddenly glinting from more than the morning sun.
“I can’t cut ‘em. Take all four or none. Yer pick.” From behind, shouts and shoving added urgency to the situation. John had a time keeping his footing but he wasn’t going below.
With a quick glance at the angry mob the redcoat thrust the purse into the guard’s eager hand and pulled his charges out of line. No one noticed the uniformed soldier who marched the four prisoners off the ship again and along a tightly packed alley surely full of pickpockets and all manner of the underbelly life of the great city of London. Suddenly John’s feet no longer hurt, the chains didn’t chafe, and the chamber pots being emptied up and down the alley couldn’t touch him.
At a hole-in-the-wall shop with its sign—Shoemaker—barely hanging on one rusted bolt his friend stopped and dragged them all inside. “Cut these chains off,” his soldier said.
The weight of the shackles gone, John dared to hope again.
The man sent the other prisoners on their way and hauled John out the door after them but not before grabbing a pair of shoes for him to wear. He threw coins on the counter in front of the astonished shoemaker and did not wait for anything else in return.
“Put those on.” He stopped for just a moment. “Come.” He pulled John to another ship and suddenly his newly shod feet halted on the slippery cobblestones. What was this? Was he saved only to go on a different ship?
When the War of 1812 is finally over William and Catherine Garner flee the desolation of Niagara and find, in the wild heart of Upper Canada, their two hundred acres straddling the Thames River. On this valuable land, dense forests, wild beasts, disgruntled 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 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 the children, he hurries along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return in time for spring planting.
With realistic insights into the challenging lives of Ontario’s early settlers, Elaine Cougler once again draws readers into the Loyalists’ struggles to build homes, roads, and relationships, and their growing dissension as they move ever closer to another war. The Loyalist Legacy shows us the trials faced by ordinary people who conquer unbelievable hardships and become extraordinary in the process.
Find Elaine Cougler on social media:
And read about Elaine from previous posts on my website:
AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – ELAINE COUGLER (Guest Post, 11-18-2015)
AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – ELAINE COUGLER (Guest Post, 09-16-2015)
Author Wednesday – Elaine Cougler (The Loyalist’s Luck, 11-5-2014)
Author Wednesday – Elaine Cougler (The Loyalist’s Wife, 10-02-2013)