The Guest Speaker for the meeting was Author Jean Rae Baxter, a former teacher and Loyalist descendant.
Her topic was supposed to be about major Canadian historical figure Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, but due to the lack of a projector, she had to improvise and instead, gave a wonderful talk about her Loyalist themed book series.
Ms. Baxter spoke about having to teach historical literature during the 1970’s to a population of students of which about 85% were descended of United Empire Loyalists, and a bus load more of students attended from the nearby First Nations Reserve. She recalled that at the time, she was given ‘classic’ books written about the early time period by American authors with a clear disdain for the Loyalist population and First Nations People during the American War of Independence.
So, she set out to fix this particular problem.
Jean wrote ‘The Way Lies North’ (2007) in response to the need for responsible historical fiction to tell the story of the Loyalists from a Canadian point of view.
This was the first book in the “Forging a Nation” series, for which a sixth book is being written. The series examines the stories of White Loyalists, Black Loyalists and the First Nations Peoples who were all affected by the violence and uprooting of the American Revolution.
During her talk, she read excerpts from each of the 5 novels currently published in the series. And each one, beautifully written, gave a very clear sense of what the Loyalist populations were experiencing, embodied in the main character of the story. The series is written in teen-aged perspectives for Young Adults, but should be enjoyed by a broader audience.
Ms. Baxter has also written a literary murder mystery novel, and many short stories.