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MY BOOKS

Various Published Works

INFLUENCE AND AMBITION
FIRST PERSONS OF PERTH

The British Army created the Perth Military Settlement in 1816 as part of a plan to provide “for the present defense and future protection of Upper Canada”. By 1822, when administration of the settlement was passed to the Colonial Office, more than 1,250 discharged soldiers with their families, as well as 700 civilian families, had been settled in the surrounding Townships of Bathurst, Drummond, Elmsley and Beckwith in what is now Lanark County, Ontario.


In Influence & Ambition: First Persons of Perth, local historian Ron W. Shaw challenges many of the accounts left by the Perth’s ‘First Historian’, Reverend William Bell.  Through colourful biographies of Bell and seventeen other ‘First Persons’ Shaw takes a fresh look at Perth’s earliest history, and the men who made it; many of whom went on to become Canada’s leading pioneer legislators and business leaders.

FIRST WE WERE SOLDIERS
THE LONG MARCH TO PERTH

Between 1816 and 1819, more than 1,200 discharged British soldiers, from over 80 regiments of infantry, cavalry and artillery, the Royal navy and miscellaneous support units were compensated for services to the Crown with settlement tickets for ‘waste land’ at the Perth (Ontario) Military Settlement. By 1822, when the Army passed administration of the scheme into civilian hands, these early settlers had been joined by hundreds more. They kept coming into the 1830s: veterans of the American Revolutionary War, The French Revolutionary War, The Napoleonic Wars, the 1798 Irish Rebellion, the American War of 1812-1814 and service in India and Burma.


First We Were Soldiers introduces a cross section of Perth’s Soldier-Settlers – corrupt officers and illiterate Privates, heroes and deserters, wives rescuing wounded husbands from the battlefield, and children born on storm tossed troop ships or in POW camps. In the mix were English, Scots and Irish, as well as Swiss, French, Dutch, Polish, Sicilian and American. Marking the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Perth Settlement in 1816, First We Were Soldiers portrays the lives of the men and their families, as they marched with the armies of Wellington and Prevost across the Iberian Peninsula and through the North American backwoods before finding themselves swinging an axe in the elm forests and cedar swamps north of the Rideau River.

TALES OF THE HARE
A PREQUEL AND SEQUEL TO THE LAST FATAL DUEL

Tales of the Hare, recounts the life and times of Francis Tito LeLièvre (1755-1830), a naval officer who served both Louis XVI and revolutionary France before defecting in 1793 to service in both the Royal Navy and the British Army. After playing a significant role in the War of 1812 LeLièvre took up a land grant at the Perth (Ontario) Military Settlement where his son, Henry LeLièvre (1802-1882), was falsely accused of plotting murder by proxy through the ‘last Fatal Duel’ fought in Upper Canada.

FORGOTTEN HERO
ALEXANDER FRASER (1789-1872)

Born in the garrison at Forth Augustus, Inverness-shire, Scotland, Alexander Fraser followed his father into the British Army, enlisting in 1807 as a lowly drummer. In 1810 he transferred as a Private into Colonel Isaac Brock’s 49th Foot and within three years rose to the rank of Assistant Sergeant Major. At Stoney Creek in May 1813, he led the desperate charge that saved Upper Canada for the Crown. In recognition of his bravery Fraser won a field commission and made a rare transition from ‘Barrack Brat’ and foot soldier to officer and gentleman.  Granted land at the Perth (Ontario) Military Settlement he consolidated his transition (despite frequent episodes of less than ‘gentlemanly’ behavior) serving as a Magistrate and rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 6th Regiment, Lanark Militia. (Co-authored with M. E. Irene Spence).

CHEESE STAKES

Exploring the story of the Lanark County Mammoth Cheese of 1892 in the context of its place in a long tradition of oversized cheeses, from the ‘Luni Cheese’ of AD 77 to ‘Le plus gros Fromage au Monde’ of 1995. Cheese Stakes also examines the remarkable, never to be repeated, achievement the ‘Canadian Mite’ represents in the annals of the cheesemakers’ art, and the odd fascination giant cheddars hold for poets, authors, playwrights, and musicians.

A SWARM OF BEES
LANARK SOCIETY SETTLERS 1800-1900
A JOURNEY FROM SCOTLAND TO UPPER CANADA AND UTAH

Recounting a journey begun in 1820 that, over the course of 50 years, took 18 ‘Lanark Society Settler’ families from the slums of Glasgow, through eastern and western Ontario, and the American Midwest, to the Salt Lake Valley of Utah. These pioneer families were among the earliest coverts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and their story unfolds in the context of the founding and earliest days of the Mormon faith.

RENDITION ON WELLINGTON STREET
LONDON’S UNREPENTANT CONFEDERATES AND THE KU KLUX KLAN

Wanted in South Carolina for the lynching of a black Civil War Veteran, Ku Klux Klan chief Dr. Rufus Bratton fled to Canada in 1872. A few weeks later a U.S. Deputy Marshall, with the help of the local Clerk of Peace, kidnapped him from the streets of London, Ontario, and carried him in chains back across the American border. The illegal rendition of Bratton led to one of the most serious diplomatic incidents of the day, prompting his release, return to Canada and escape from ever answering for his crime.

BLACK LIGHT
TEN STORIES AND A NOVELLA

A Kurtz figure in the jungle … a crippled pedlar and a whore … a hunter defying the demolition of his township shanty - - resonant characters in stories etched with suspense live out the savage ironies of contemporary Africa. And yet, the surprising outcomes of these tales turn, not on event, but on bittersweet perceptions of the human spirit embattled in a troubled land. Emerging from the tradition of Paton, Gordimer and Coetzee, Ron W. Shaw gives us a new, compassionately ironic vision of Africa. – George Payerle

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