Friday, August 14, 2009

Through Water, Ice & Fire

By Barry Gough

213 pages; $24.99

ISBN 1550025694

The schooner Nancy, legendary vessel of Great Lakes and Canadian history, lived a thousand lives in a noted career that began in Detroit and ended in a fiery explosion in Nottawasaga River in the last year of the War of 1812. This dramatic, soundly researched narrative depicts the reality of the men who sailed her while fighting a gritty war. Carrying the war to the enemy in hazardous ways, they fought against a powerful American foe, using stealth and daring to maintain the besieged Canadian position in the last armed struggle for the heartland of North America. The loss of the Nancy inspired generations to regard her as a symbol of devotion to king and country.The War of 1812 on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain must've been a grim time for the parties involved with the almost summer heat and humidity coupled with intense cold in the winter. In addition, most of the local persons called up for service were more interested in getting back to their crops. The fact that many crops went unharvested, only made conditions worse with the lack of food.
Nancy was certainly not the most famous of ships and was chosen more for the fact that she was in the right place at the right time for her claim to fame.
To make the book work even better was a final chapter of the eventual finding and establishment of a Nancy Museum in the 1920s.
One small criticism of the book is Gough's use of the modern politically correct Canadian term of "nation" when referring to local Indian tribes during the War of 1812.
Gough certainly establishes his bona fides here as an entertaining writer. The narrative flows smoothly and makes for an excellent afternoon summer read. (DS)

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