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Fiction Biographical

The Orangeman, Second Edition

The Life and Times of Ogle Gowan, Second Edition

by (author) Don Akenson

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2023
Biographical, Historical
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2023
    List Price

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From the end of the Napoleonic Wars to Confederation, central Canada was awash with migrants from the British Isles and their cultural values. The raw prejudice that they brought with them – against the French, the Catholics, and even Yanks and Europeans – bound together the eventual political majority in Ontario. The Orangeman uses the life of Ogle Gowan, an Irish Protestant upstart from County Wexford who turned central Canada Orange, to explore these forces.

Gowan was ambitious, malicious, and mendacious, but by the time of Confederation the Orange Order was the largest alliance of men in the country – the foundation of the coalition of conservative Protestants that sculpted Canadian politics in the century that followed. Don Akenson uses his skills as a historian and a novelist in respecting the historical record. The Orangeman is a lively and entertaining fictional biography, and in Akenson’s telling Gowan crosses swords with William Lyon Mackenzie and goes pub-crawling with the young John A. Macdonald.

One never knows everything about a historical person or event; sometimes the right thing to do is to speculate sensibly and, if possible, have a little fun along the way. Akenson shows us Canadian loyalism, constitutionalism, and deference to state authority on one side of the coin, and on the flip side, the successful attempt by one group of Canadians to do down the other. This is real history, real life: as yesterday, so today.

About the author

Don Akenson is the author of numerous books including Surpassing Wonder: The Invention of the Bible and the Talmuds (nominated for the Governor General's Award) and, most recently, Some Family: The Mormons and How Humanity Keeps Track of Itself. He teache

Don Akenson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“A commentary upon an historical figure and the writing of history itself. This gives the book a delicious irony that just might herald the advent of post-modernism in Canadian historical scholarship.” Ontario History

“Akenson’s story rings true and his narrative reflects the historical imagination and archival research of a leading scholar.” Quill and Quire

“A fascinating book that asks and answers the questions historians often avoid.” The Globe and Mail

“No book will set you straighter on the vicious sectarianism that once dominated our politics.” Toronto Star

Other titles by Don Akenson