Gunboats on the Great Lakes 1866-68

The British Navy's show of force at the time of Confederation

Cheryl MacDonald

This book tells the story of three British gunboats that patrolled the Great lakes in the aftermath of the US Civil War when Canada was negotiating Confederation and under Fenian attack. Cheryl MacDonald explores the impact of Fenian invasions on Canada and how the presence of the gunboats helped guarantee Canadian sovereignty.
Date Published :
August 2017
Publisher :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781459411227
Pages : 192
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Gunboats on the Great Lakes tells the story of the three British gunboats which patrolled the Great Lakes as the politicians finalized the Confederation deal, and Irish nationalists recruited Civil War veterans and staged armed raids on Canada. The Fenians, a secret society of Irish immigrants in the United States, decided to attack Canada with the aim of seizing power in the remaining colonies and using them as bargaining chips with Britain. Their ultimate goal was Irish independence. Historian Cheryl MacDonald explores the impact of the Fenian attacks on average citizens, and examines how gunboat diplomacy — in this case, the presence of three British vessels — helped reassure thousands of Canadians and guarantee Canada's territorial sovereignty between 1866 and 1868. Drawing on hundreds of newspaper articles, government reports, and the logbooks of the Britomart, Cherub and Heron, as well as archive photos from the period, this book focuses on events that will intrigue any history buff.

About The Author

Cheryl MacDonald wrote, co-authored, or edited nearly 40 books on Canadian history in her over 30-year career. Her articles appeared in Harrowsmith, Canadian Living, The Beaver, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, New York Daily News and numerous other publications. She contributed to the best-selling book Chronicle of Canada, and is the author of fourteen books in Lorimer’s Amazing Stories collection. In 2012 she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her work researching and promoting Canadian local history. Cheryl died in fall 2016 after a long battle with cancer.



Preface by April Cormaci

Prologue     Welcome Guests

Chapter 1     The Fenian Threat

Chapter 2     Canada West Attacked

Chapter 3     Dealing with the Neighbours

Chapter 4     Improvising a Navy

Chapter 5     The Gunboats Arrive

Chapter 6     Jolly Jack Tar

Chapter 7     Discipline and Desertion

Epilogue     Maintaining a Presence


Postscript by Sandra MacDonald






"The author describes the gunboat diplomacy on the Great Lakes of three Royal Navy gunboats - Britomart, Cherub, and Heron - that protected British Interests."

- Seapower

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