In the late summer of 1809, eighteen-year-old Louis Cloutier is on board the Nancy, a North West Fur Company schooner, sailing from Fort Amherstburg on a journey of some four hundred miles and heading for Fort St. Joseph, the farthest northern outpost garrisoned by the British Army.
Louis soon finds himself stranded in this small fort in the depth of the wilderness, whose contact with the outside world by ship or canoe is at best tenuous, particularly during the long, hard winters. Its inhabitants are thrown together, live much of the time in bleak isolation, and are dependent on each other for their very survival. Tangles occur in their relationships, some resulting in dire consequences.
Thirty British soldiers garrison the fort. In the fort is the British Indian Department's post, where Louis's father has been transferred to assist the superintendent. The Department staff works closely with the surrounding Indian tribes, to ensure their continued loyalty to the British crown, and to provide support for the North West Fur Company, which has an agency located at the fort.
Louis is hired as an interpreter for the Indian Department. He falls for Giselle Lortie, a Métis kitchen helper with the North West Company. In 1812, he is required to accompany the current fort commandant, Captain Charles Roberts, who sets sail with his garrison, voyageur militia, and Indian warriors to capture the American-held Fort Michilimackinac. Louis leaves Giselle and fears he may never see her again. Deserted by its garrison, Fort St. Joseph is abandoned to its doom.
Louis finds his Ojibwe grandmother in Sault Ste. Marie, where the dramatic conclusion of the story unfurls.
Page Count: 263 pages
Publisher: FriesenPress
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publish Date: March 31, 2014
Hardcover, paperback and electronic (e-book) editions available for purchase from FriesenPress, Chapters (!ndigo), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.