Battle On The Ice


When fourteen-year-old Dory (Theodore) Dickson leaves his home on the Heights of Niagara, he is his family’s only hope to save their farm. The fall harvest has failed, the horse has died, and Dory must earn enough money before spring planting time to buy a horse to pull the plough.

It is late December, 1837, when he begins his search for work. His father warns him to avoid border towns where Patriots meet to plan rebellion. Despite this warning, he walks right into trouble at his first stop along the way, when in Chippawa he meets Duncan Fraser, the Patriot recruiter who is raising an army to overthrow the Government of Upper Canada, toss out the Family Compact, and establish the Republic of Canada.

Dory does not take sides. He does not want to be involved in anybody’s plots or schemes. Given an assignment to carry an innocent (or so he believes) gift of a treasured loom and spinning wheel bequeathed  to a woman living at the western end of Lake Erie’s north shore, he sets out on a sled drawn by Labelle, a trusty mare of the true Canadian breed. The loom and spinning wheel are protected by a tarpaulin lashed down to protect them from winter weather. Over the next two months, Dory meets an interesting array of people, including the fortune hunter Peter Dash, the beautiful but spoiled heiress Laura, the flirtatious maid Vera, and the quiet book-loving Anna. He learns, to his shock and dismay, that he has been transporting not a loom and spinning wheel but a load of muskets to equip Patriot insurgents and American sympathizers planning an invasion of Pelee Island. Along the way he encounters betrayal and danger, witnesses the crucial Battle on the Ice in which American invaders are driven off Pelee Island, exposes the villainy of Peter Dash, and finally earns a greater reward than he had expected.

When young Dory Dickson leaves his home to seek work, his father advises him to avoid the border towns, where Patriots meet to plan rebellion. It is a winter of discontent, Upper and Lower Canada both on the verge of civil war. Despite his father’s warning, Dory walks straight into trouble at his first stop, when at the tavern in Chippawa he meets the Patriot recruiter Duncan Fraser, who is raising an army to overthrow the Government of Upper Canada, toss out the Family Compact and establish the Republic of Canada. On nearby Navy Island, in the middle of the Niagara River, rebellion leader William Lyon Mackenzie has an army of 400 men training for an invasion. Dory does not take sides. Unaware that he is being used, he is thrust into a role that he did not choose, fraught with danger and betrayal wherever he turns.


Jean Rae Baxter holds a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.Ed. from Queen’s. She has been nominated for the 2022 Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media: the Pierre Berton Award.
Although she grew up in Hamilton, “down home” was Essex County, where her ancestors had settled, some as Loyalists in the 1780’s following the American Revolution and some a century earlier, in the days of New France.
Jean has written six historical novels, the “Forging a Nation Series,” covering the period from 1777 to 1793:

The Way Lies North (2007)
Broken Trail (2011)
Freedom Bound (2012)
The White Oneida (2014)
Hope’s Journey (2015)
The Knotted Rope (2021)

With The Battle on the Ice she moves ahead to the Patriot Wars of 1837-1838. Jean’s historical novels have won awards in Canada and the United States, including all three Moonbeam medals, –Gold, Silver, Bronze—for Young Adult Historical Fiction.

She has also authored a murder mystery, Looking for Cardenio, and two short story collections, Twist of Malice and Scattered Light.

As a teacher of creative writing Jean holds workshops on using the tools of fiction to bring family history to life.


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Battle On The Ice”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *