A remarkable fine ship is the story of the HMS St. Lawrence, and the fighting ships built to achieve superiority on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. It was published in The Beaver in 1992.
I came across this story in the vault, a double-spaced, fuzzy carbon copy that extended into pages of footnotes. We used to have to know this sort of submission style as well as we now know the keystrokes in Microsoft Word. Finding it opened a window onto an era in writing that, even though it was not so long ago, might be a different age of world from the one we’re in today.
It was beautifully presented in The Beaver, and I was particularly delighted that as a space filler on the final page the editor had added this 1814 quote from the Duke of Wellington to Lord Liverpool, the British Prime Minister:
I have already told you and Lord Bathurst that I feel no objection to going to America, though I don’t promise to myself much success there. I believe there are troops enough there for the defence of Canada forever, and even for the accomplishment of any reasonable offensive plan that could be formed from the Canadian frontier. I am quite sure that all the American armies of which I have ever read would not beat out of a field of battle the troops that went from Bordeaux last summer, if common precautions and care were taken of them. That which appears to be wanting in America is not a General, or General Officers and troops, but a naval superiority on the Lakes. Till that superiority is acquired, it is impossible, according to my notion, to maintain an army in such a situation as to keep the enemy out of the whole frontier, much less to make any conquest from the enemy, which with those superior means, might, with reasonable hopes of success, be undertaken, I may be wrong in this opinion, but I think the whole history of the war proves its truth.
I genuinely loved all aspects of writing this story, from the research to the writing. Partly, no doubt, because I love writing stories of the Age of Sail.