"Defending our Home: Loyalist Families of Dundas County and the Battle of Crysler's Farm". By Ronald L.Doering Borealis Press; 276 pages Hardcover $29.95 Softcover $19.95 Reviewed by John Merritt On the two hundred year anniversary of its commencement, the War of 1812 is much in the news. At the Rideau Street Chapters store, there are no fewer than six books about the War featured in the new releases section. In his just released novel, Ron Doering has provided a very entertaining addition to the wealth of new, and re-released, books about the War. Although a long-time Ottawa based lawyer and Glebe resident, who continues to live in the neighbourhood, the author was born and grew up close to the Crysler's Farm battlefield on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, beside what is now Upper Canada Village. He is a descendant of the original United Empire Loyalist community in Dundas County that is at the centre of his book's events. Prominent households in that community --- the Marselis, Cook, Crysler, and Doran families ---- provide the main characters. They are supplemented with a supporting cast of other Loyalists, French Canadians, Mohawk warriors, and British regular soldiers. Americans, being the invaders and adversary on the field of battles, also appear, of course. But only at a distance. This is a book that is decidedly about personalities and politics on the Loyalist side of the conflict as it played out along the St. Lawrence frontier, not a non-partisan set of back-and-forth accounts of things happening simultaneously on both sides of the conflict. Although a novel, the author has built the book around careful research into the lives of the individuals who appear, and into the events that unfolded in the run-up to the actual battle in the late fall of 1813. This gives the book a firm foot in both fiction and in history. In a nice touch, the author has provided a "Historical Afterword" at the book's conclusion, satisfying the reader's curiosity as to what transpired in the lives of the main characters in the aftermath of the War. The book can be read with equal pleasure by those interested in a good story with an interesting historical backdrop, and those who would like to know more about the War as it affected the lives of recent Loyalist arrivals to Upper Canada. The plot and character development are crisp and fast moving, but with sufficient nuance and embroidery to allow the reader to take a keen interest in both. The author has threaded in activities and expressions authentic to the period, without giving them a too prominent or disruptive emphasis. In that way, the author accomplishes what is so rarely achieved in novels that are heavily anchored in historic events: the reader learns a great deal about an important part of Canadian history, and key aspects of its identity and culture, while at the same time being nicely propelled along by the unfolding story. An interesting feature of the book is its emphasis on how the original Loyalist settlers in Dundas County did not arrive in Upper Canada as economic entrepreneurs, pushing out from the American heartland as land investors and speculators but indifferent to larger politics. No. The Dundas County Loyalists were people who had suffered a great deal, and lost a great deal, in choosing loyalty to the Crown during the American Revolution, and brought with them to Canada a fierce determination to stay outside the political experiment of the Great Republic. In signing up to the militia that, along with a modest number of British regulars and Mohawk warriors, took on and turned back the much larger invading American force at Crysler's Farm, the Loyalists were defending both their homes and their fundamental beliefs. While the book does not pretend that conflict is without pain or cost, it makes no apologies for celebrating the patriotic convictions and backbone of the Dundas County Loyalists. This is a most enjoyable book and I would recommend it to readers of a wide range of interests, ages, and backgrounds. John Merritt is a lawyer and long time Glebe resident. The book is widely available in bookstores, including signed copies at Britton’s in the Glebe and in Centretown at Book Bazaar, 417 Bank Street. Copies can also be purchased on-line with free postage from http://www.borealispress.com/ The official launch will be on May 17 at the Glebe Community Centre from 6:30-8:30 p.m.