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.
About the author
KEN MCGOOGAN is the best-selling author of a dozen books, among them 50 Canadians Who Changed The World, How The Scots Invented Canada, Fatal Passage and Lady Franklin’s Revenge. He has won the Pierre Berton Award for History, the University of British Columbia Medal for Canadian Biography, the Canadian Authors’ Association History Award, the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize and an American Christopher Award for “a work of artistic excellence that affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” Before turning mainly to books, Ken worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, and in faraway places as different as Edinburgh, Sydney, Stromness, and Hobart. www.kenmcgoogan.com
"...in a time of rising intolerance toward minorities and immigrants, Flight of the Highlanders is a much-needed reality check. McGoogan's chronicle of how impoverished but tenacious Scots built new lives in Canada - and transformed the country - is a reminder that all of us, regardless of origin or race, want the same things: a better life and a brighter future." — Dean Jobb, The Scotsman
Other titles by Ken McGoogan
The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage
How The Scots And The Irish Created A Canadian
50 Canadians Who Changed The World
John Rae's Arctic Correspondence, 1844-1855
The Arctic Journals of John Rae
Lady Franklin's Revenge
A True Story of Ambition, Obsession and the Remaking of Artic History
How The Scots Invented Canada
Race To The Polar Sea
The Heroic Adventures of Elisha Kent Kane
The Amazing Adventures of Samuel Hearne, the Sailor Who Walked to the Arctic Ocean
The Untold Story of John Rae, the Artic Explorer Who Discovered the Fate of Franklin