Shadow Song by Lorina StephensShadow Song by Lorina Stephens

Shadow Song

byLorina Stephens

Paperback | August 1, 2008

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Based upon a true tragedy that occurred in the village of Hornings Mills, Ontario, Canada, Shadow Song is set amid the economic ruin that occurred to so many émigrés and British pensioned officers of the 1830s. It is full of psychological and cultural contrasts of two cultures at odds with one another, and an intimate familiarity with the geography of the novel, from the immigrants' miserable landing stage at Grosse Isle into the dark reaches of Lake Superior's North Shore.What the Media Say: Lorina Stephens has proven herself an engaging author. The (Hanover) Post The book Shadow Song is as diverse as the woman who wrote it. Susan Doolan The Barrie Examiner It is often the case with contemporary Canadian authors that they have a tendency to punctuate their novels with long, psychological dissertations on mundane subjects. It's as if they feel that each everyday occurrence is fraught with deep sociological undertones. Shadow Song, fortunately, is free of such meanderings. It has a good economy of words and each paragraph contains vital information. Dan Pelton Orangeville Citizen

Details & Specs

Title:Shadow SongFormat:PaperbackDimensions:216 pages, 5.98 × 9.01 × 0.49 inPublished:August 1, 2008Publisher:Five Rivers ChapmanryLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:097392781X

ISBN - 13:9780973927818

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From the Author

AfterwordThe research that went into the writing of this book spanned several years and created a journey of fascination. Some of the characters in the book are based upon actual historical characters, others leap from my imagination. The story of the tragedy in Hornings Mills is based upon a true account. In 1830, Lewis Horning, a hardy 60 year old Pennsylvania Dutchman left his prosperous holdings in the Hamilton/Ancaster area of Upper Canada to pursue a dream in the Queen's Bush. Horning, with the assistance of Henry Bates, William Silk, the Vanmear family and ten others, was to establish a settlement far from the active trading centers to the south. The land was rich, peopled by the Ojibwa and Chippewa who called themselves the Anishnabeg. To the north hardwood forest grew. Eastward flowed the Pine River and the valley that had been carved by glaciers, while to the south there were numerous small lakes ideal for mill ponds. In the west were vast beaver meadows, swales and cedar swamps, the latter two the result of poor drainage caused by the Niagara Escarpment. It was here, in the west, that the infamous Melancthon Swamps lay, swamps that were ancient, slow, moving in ways that were to shape the future of Horning's dream.So it was that by 1831, despite age and hardships, this hardy group had built grist and saw mills. Indeed it seemed the village would prosper. News of Horning's success reached Hamilton and Ancaster, and the entire project lauded.And then the summer of 1832 happened. Relatives of Horning had come to assist with the raising of buildings, and, perhaps preoccupied with this, and a cow that was to calf, Lewis Horning turned away two natives who had come to the mill to trade venison for flour.Shortly after it became apparent the cow had wandered, he suspected into Melancthon Swamp. A conversation between Horning and his hired man was overheard by Jane, Susan and Oliver Vanmear, ages sixteen, fourteen and nine, as well as Lewis Horning Jr., also aged nine. It seemed the entrepreneur offered his man a dollar if he would search for the missing cow.The children, seized with the idea of earning the dollar for themselves, set off to the west. They disappeared. The other Horning brothers – Peter and Robert – searched while the adults were still involved in building. They found a native trail that led directly into the heart of Melancthon Swamp, apparently where the four children had gone.The alarm went out. For days the village people scoured the countryside. Nothing of the children or the cow was ever found. The Anishnabeg, of course, were blamed.Six years later, disheartened, Lewis Horning packed up what remained of his family and returned to Ancaster. The other families soon followed, and the village of Hornings Mills quietly slipped back into the Queen's Bush. There were to be other adventurers, men bent on stripping the land and shaping it for their own good, so that the village was not to disappear altogether. But, always, that day hung in the background.Only Oliver Vanmear was to ever surface, found in the Marigold Tavern in Oakville many years later, still simple-minded and erratic. His story was that all four children had been taken captive by the Ojibwa, the girls married off, Lewis Horning Jr. rumoured to be a strong hunter. Was his story true? To this day no one knows. Perhaps he told people what they wanted to hear. Perhaps he told the truth. The Baltic, which Danielle takes from England to Quebec is real, as is her commander, Earbage. Conditions aboard ship, the outbreak of cholera at Quebec and the opening of Grosse Isle as an immigration point are all lifted from historical documents, although I have played with the actual timing and dates to suit my purposes. Fares, ferries and stages are based upon real costs, ships and companies, as are the details of Midewewin and Ojibwa society based upon historical records and books of the era. Captain Anderson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Reverend Adam Elliot and the teacher Mr. Orr were all present on Manitoulin Island around the time of the novel. Trading posts mentioned throughout the novel are all based upon historical accounts of Hudson Bay posts. I found the name of Fleming in a graveyard near to Hornings Mills, and purloined it for the purpose of giving Danielle some historical background, albeit fictional. Shadow Song sprang directly from imagination, although for me he became incarnate and dogged my days for a full year while setting down the first draft of this novel. The Anishnabeg language references I have taken from an original copy of an English/Ojibwa dictionary from the 19th century. It, among other rare books, came into my possession through the kindness of a bookseller, Darwin, in Toronto, now long dead from an AIDS related illness; Darwin had one of the largest collections of native books in North America. I am forever indebted to his love of the native peoples and his passion for collecting knowledge for them.I would be remiss in my acknowledgements if I failed to recognize the support and effort offered me by Kelly Stephens, my daughter, and Grant Hallman, fellow scribbler, both of whom were indefatigable in their proof-reading and comments of the novel.

Read from the Book

  I remember the summer I met Shadow Song was so green it hurt my eyes. It was as if the world were carved from jade – something sacred and equally fragile. I, Danielle Michelle Fleming, was to become mesmerized by this world. This land, this Upper Canada, was a place where I would learn to breathe.That had been the summer of 1832. What brought me across the ocean from England, ultimately, were dreams. The priests said these visions were devil’s work. I was a child. How was I to know there were things the priests feared? How was I to know my visions were ambivalent? The irony of it is I never asked for this gift. I was content with a life revolving around a household of parents, governess and servants. My journey began earlier than that green summer of 1832. It began with the July Revolution of 1830 in France. I will forever remember that day, young as I was, remember how my safe English universe unravelled around a slip of paper quivering in Papa's hand. Such moment can ensue from something as simple as words on paper. I’d heard the bell ring at the front door, heard Mrs. Barton, our housekeeper, answer, the usual banter between her and the courier. As always, being curious – nosy my governess called it – I crept along the landing to watch. Papa would come to the foyer I knew. Mail was always important. It carried news of his business, news of the world, news of family. In this case it was to be news of all three. By the time I reached my favorite place, face pressed between the railings, Maman joined Papa in the foyer. Sunlight gleamed on the white marble floor, like lace where it passed through the transom over the front door. There were lilies, white and frail, in a vase on the table against the paneling. The lilies’ fragrance was pungent, like a drug to calm the nerves. “Que est que c'est?” Maman asked, pointing to the letter in Papa's hand.He paled. He shook his head slowly, as if the weight of what he thought were more than he could bear. He looked up from the paper and over to Maman where she stood in a halo of light. The expression on his face chilled me. A gentle man, Papa had never been wordless, never shown the slightest indication he was anything less than invincible in his steady, calm manner. Completely bewildered was how he looked. Bewilderment faded and was replaced with something I could only think of as fear. It was there in his voice when he said, “The French government has failed.”Maman, I was sure, was on the verge of shattering. She had always been delicate, like the lilies in the vase – intoxicating, enchanting, and tender to any misuse. Today she was dressed in russet silk, fashionably high-waisted with enormous gigot sleeves, her hair arranged like a dark, sleek ribbon on the crown of her head. For a moment Maman searched for words and when none sufficed she touched Papa's arm. Finally: “King Charles?”“Has exiled himself here, England.” “And the indemnity?”He shook his head. “Nothing?”Again he shook his head.“But it had been made law. All émigrés who had their lands confiscated by that Republican nonsense were to receive an indemnity. The King guaranteed it.”He didn't even meet her look when he answered, “There is to be nothing.”Another moment of silence passed. I could hear the floor-clock down the hall ticking, ticking, ponderously ticking. Its sound thumped in my head like those ominous words, meaningless and yet full of portent. It echoed the thump of my heart. Then Maman asked, “Will Edgar foreclose on the loan?”Edgar, the elder Fleming, my uncle. Just hearing his name gave me a shiver of apprehension. I drew into myself on the staircase. My uncle’s name always connected to bitter words and hardship. I didn’t know him. Uncle Edgar sailed away before I was born, taking the family fortune and his luck with him to the colonies of Upper Canada, yet somehow he always seemed present whenever bad news blew in. I had come to think of him as the maker of ill fortune, and came to know him as the engineer of my misery.“Edgar has no security now,” Papa answered. “Everything I borrowed from my brother was secured against your lands in France, and the indemnity guaranteed by the Bourbon government.”“But will your brother foreclose on the loan?”“Yes.”Another moment. Maman asked another question. “Have they taken everything?”“Yes.” Maman smiled, although it was plain her smile was one of those let's-be-brave smiles. “Ça va, my Lord Fleming. Now we are both titled and indigent. You the youngest son of an English nobleman, and I the exiled aristocrat of France.”“At least we have our heads.”Maman let out a small gasp, poor attempt at a laugh, and laid her head against Papa’s chest.

Editorial Reviews

Lorina Stephens has proven herself an engaging author. The (Hanover) Post The book Shadow Song is as diverse as the woman who wrote it. Susan Doolan, The Barrie Examiner It is often the case with contemporary Canadian authors that they have a tendency to punctuate their novels with long, psychological dissertations on mundane subjects. It's as if they feel that each everyday occurrence is fraught with deep sociological undertones. Shadow Song, fortunately, is free of such meanderings. It has a good economy of words and each paragraph contains vital information. Dan Pelton, Orangeville CitizenI’m thinking this may be the best book I’ve read all year!Robert RunteReviewer for NeoOpsis