True Blue: The Loyalist Legend
Les Harding is author of The Voyages of Lesser Men: Thumbnail Sketches
in Canadian Exploration.
Walter Stewart is a well-known Canadian journalist. He is the author of such books as Towers of Gold, Feet of Clay, Shrug: Trudeau in Power, Hard to Swallow, and Paper Juggernaut. He is currently Director of the School of Journalism at King’s College, Halifax.
True Blue makes no pretence of being a formal academic study of the United Empire Loyalists, and for that we can be thankful. The book is written in a breezy, journalistic style that is a pleasure to read. It sheds new light on an old subject, challenging the traditional view of the Loyalists that we learned in school: God-fearing, tea-drinking, Church of England royalists. Some of them were like that but most were not. There were Loyalists who were Indian warriors, black slaves (perhaps a third of the total), Germans who did not speak English, thieves, snobs, fools, con artists, and even republicans! Few Loyalists attended the Church of England and none were boring. The tale of the Loyalists is a fascinating one and the author tells it well.
Mr. Stewart has a sharp eye for the oddities, ironies, and lively quirks that make Canadian history such an interesting field of study. We learn, for instance, that Benjamin Franklin’s son was a Loyalist!
The coming of the Loyalists was the pivotal event in Canadian history. The newcomers took Canada away from its original owners, both white and Indian, and rebuilt it. Whether or not the reader is one of the 3½ million Canadians descended from the Loyalists, he will enjoy True Blue.
Chapter notes are kept to a minimum, but some are included at the back in the hope, as the author says, “that some readers will be stimulated to follow the same trails I followed.”