John Bell, who was born in Montreal and grew up in Halifax, has written extensively on various aspects of Canadian history and culture. His most recent books are Confederate Seadog: John Taylor Wood in War and Exile, and Invaders from the North: How Canada Conquered the Comic Book Universe. Recently retired from his position as a senior archivist at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, he now lives in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
Rebels on the Great Lakes
In 1863–1864, Confederate naval operations were launched from Canada against America, with an unexpected impact on North America’s future.
Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a myth has persisted that the hijackers entered the United States from Canada. This is completely untrue. Nevertheless, there was a time during the U.S. Civil War when attacks on America were launched from Canada, but the aggressors were mostly fellow Americans engaged in a secessionist struggle. Among the attacks were three daring naval commando expeditions against a prisoner-of-war camp on Johnsons Island in Lake Erie.
These Confederate operations on the Great Lakes remain largely unknown. However, some of the people involved did make more indelible marks in history, including a future Canadian prime minister, a renowned Victorian war correspondent, a beloved Catholic poet, a notorious presidential assassin, and a son of the abolitionist John Brown.
The improbable events linking these figures constitute a story worth telling and remembering. Rebels on the Great Lakes offers the first full account of the Confederate naval operations launched from Canada in 186364, describing forgotten military actions that ultimately had an unexpected impact on North Americas future.
Mr. Bell clearly has infinite patience, an excellent nose for tracking, and a serious but likeable prose style: a combination all too rare