James FitzGibbon

Overview

James FitzGibbon, Defender of Upper Canada, is the often poignant story of a poor man’s rise to authority in the Upper Canada of the 1800s.

Born the son of a tenant farmer in Ireland, FitzGibbon’s valour as a soldier brought him to the attention of those destined for power in the Canadas. Hero of the Battle of Beaver Dams in 1813, one o the decisive battles in the War of 1812, FitzGibbon’s brilliance as tactician and negotiator was needed time and again — whether to settle Irish unrest on the Cornwall Canal, or to organize Toronto’s defence against William Lyon Mackenzie’s rebel forces in 1837.

As a public administrator, FitzGibbon’s rise was slow and disappointing. Despite holding a multitude of offices, he was continually in debt. And despite repeated petitions, FitzGibbon’s tireless military and public services went unrecognized and unrewarded. His final reward as a ceremonial knight in Windsor Castle adds a tragicomic touch to a fascinating tale.

Reviews

"A very readable and lively biography."

British Journal of Canadian Studies

About the Author

Ruth McKenzie

Posted by Dundurn Guest on October 30, 2014

Ruth McKenzie

Ottawa-based Ruth McKenzie is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher. Her work has appeared in the Canadian Geographical Journal, The Ottawa Citizen, and in Chatelaine. She is the author of Leeds and Grenville: Their First Two Hundred Years; Laura Secord: The Legend and the Lady, and Admiral Bayfield, Pioneer Nautical Surveyor.