As a former history and English teacher, I've long been fascinated by the rich but neglected social history of our country. As an avid reader of historical fiction, I was disappointed that there were so few good books available that would entertain and yet enlighten us about Canada's past.
Particularly interesting to me is the history of my own home town, Lindsay, Ontario. Riots at the mill, a devastating ague (malaria-like) epidemic, an invasion of Orangemen from Omemee, Peterborough Militia searching Lindsay for the rebel, William Lyon Mackenzie, the coming of the railroads, and the "great fire" of 1861 are just some of the real events of Lindsay's intriguing past that are portrayed in this novel. Other incidents were typical of any pioneer community - house-raising bees, sugaring-off, violent elections - and some, like the Rebellion of Upper Canada, incorporate a few real historical characters with the fictional.
This book has been carefully and thoroughly researched so that the reader will get a realistic portrayal of what life was like for those indomitable pioneers. My bibliography of 150 books includes first person accounts, such as letters and diaries, biographies, sociological analyses, and scholarly tomes. I learned about all aspects of 19th century life, from food and medicine to clothes and architecture. Through the generosity of the Lindsay Public Library, I was given access to the archives, where material such as maps, directories, drawings, and photographs added another dimension to the background information that helped my story come to life.
In order to allow myself artistic licence, I called Lindsay "Launston Mills" in the novel. However, anyone who knows Lindsay will recognize streets and areas.
This book has gone through many revisions, once with the insightful advice of author Munroe Scott, and once under the guidance of my former literary agent in England. She had such faith in the novel that she took me on as a client, even though I was so far away. She reported that we had several "near misses" with some prestigious British publishing houses. An eminent Canadian publisher told me that I had written "two very good novels" and that I've "got a lot of talent".
This has encouraged me to publish the novel myself. I hope that readers will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Gabriele (Tavaszi) Wills