Bestselling author Ken McGoogan tells the story of those courageous Scots who, ruthlessly evicted from their ancestral homelands, were sent to Canada in coffin ships, where they would battle hardship, hunger and even murderous persecution.
After the Scottish Highlanders were decimated at the 1746 Battle of Culloden, the British government banned kilts and bagpipes and set out to destroy a clan system that for centuries had sustained a culture, a language and a unique way of life. The Clearances, or forcible evictions, began when landlords—among them traitorous clan chieftains—realized they could increase their incomes dramatically by driving out tenant farmers and dedicating their estates to sheep.
Flight of the Highlanders: The Making of Canada intertwines two main narratives. The first is that of the Clearances themselves, during which some 200,000 Highlanders were driven—some of them burned out, others beaten unconscious—from lands occupied by their forefathers for hundreds of years. The second narrative focuses on resettlement. The refugees, frequently misled by false promises, battled impossible conditions wherever they arrived, from the forests of Nova Scotia to the winter barrens of northern Manitoba.
Between the 1770s and the 1880s, tens of thousands of dispossessed and destitute Highlanders crossed the Atlantic —prototypes for the refugees we see arriving today from around the world. If today Canada is more welcoming to newcomers than most countries, it is at least partly because of the lingering influence of those unbreakable refugees. Together with their better-off brethren—the lawyers, educators, politicians and businessmen—those indomitable Highlanders were the making of Canada.
KEN MCGOOGAN has published more than a dozen books, among them Fatal Passage, How the Scots Invented Canada, Lady Franklin’s Revenge, Celtic Lightning and Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage. He has won the Pierre Berton Award for History, the UBC Medal for Canadian Biography, the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize and the Christopher Award for “a work of artistic excellence that affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” McGoogan has worked as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. He sails with Adventure Canada, teaches creative non-fiction in the MFA program at the University of King’s College in Halifax, and lives in Toronto with his artist-photographer wife, Sheena Fraser McGoogan.
Publication Date: 20190917
- ABT #90