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Shaun J. McLaughlin

Shaun J. McLaughlin writes an excellent history blog about the Patriot War available at

His first history book, The Patriot War Along the New York–Canada Border: Raiders and Rebels, was released in February 2012 by The History Press and will be available in bookstores and gift shops in the Thousand Islands area.

Counter Currents, is now available in ebook format at Smashworks and at Amazon.

Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 645 KB

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

Publisher: Raiders and Rebels Press; 1 edition (January 11, 2012)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services

Language: English



Counter Currents is a story of smugglers, river pirates, rebels, love, war, and freedom fighters. Spanning 1837 to 1845, most scenes are set against the beauty and grandeur of the Thousand Islands during the drama of the Patriot War in 1838. That year, rebels attacked Canada 10 times from the USA. Among the raiders was the legendary Bill Johnston.

The fictional protagonist, Ryan, is just 19 when he arrives alone in Canada. He spends his first summer with a family of displaced Algonquins, learning to live off the land. They give Ryan a new name, Lone Pine.

As winter approaches in late 1837, Ryan arrives in Kingston just as Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec) are gripped by rebellions. The defeated Canadian rebels flee to America and build an army aided by American sympathizers.

Ryan leaves Kingston to escape compulsory militia duty and spends the winter in an abandoned cabin in the Thousand Islands with his pet raven for company.

In the spring, Ryan canoes to Clayton, New York, to trade furs. He meets Bill Johnston, Johnston’s family, and many fellow smugglers and rebels. (Johnston, a smuggler, river pirate, and War-of-1812 American privateer, was so feared that the British in the 19th-century Canadian colonies called out the army every time his name made the newspapers.)

Johnston schools Ryan in the smuggler's ways in the lawless archipelago of the Thousand Islands. Ryan’s first taste of violence is a midnight raid on a private steamer, the Sir Robert Peel. Johnston, Ryan, and a dozen others attack the ship, remove the passengers and crew, and then loot and burn it.

Johnston spends the summer hiding from a massive US and British force sent to find him. Ryan continues smuggling, while Johnston's 18-year-old daughter, Kate, runs supplies to her fugitive father. Independent, fearless and beautiful, locals called Kate the Queen of the Thousand Islands.

That summer, Kate and Ryan fall in love. Ryan is coached by Kate’s older cousin Ada on how to best capture Kate’s heart. Over time, Ada develops feelings for Ryan. Ryan, in turn, struggles with his attraction to Ada.

Bill coaxes Ryan to join the Hunters Lodge, a militant secret society dedicated to the overthrow of the British in Canada.

Captured after a raid on Canada, Ryan uses every guile, trick and hard-learned lesson to extricate himself from prison, so that he can return to Kate. The gallows or a trip to the Tasmanian penal colony awaits him if he fails.

The story builds on real events surrounding the Patriot War and stays close to historic facts. Over 30 non-fiction characters play small to major rolls, including a young John A. Macdonald, later to become Canada's first prime minister, and Daniel D. Heustis, an extraordinary but unsung American hero.

About the author

Shaun J. McLaughlin maintains two history blogs: one on the Patriot War and other 19th-century Canadian/American border clashes (Raiders and Rebels); and, one on William Johnston, the Thousand Islands legend. A researcher, journalist and technical writer for over thirty years, with a master's degree in journalism, he lives on a hobby farm in Eastern Ontario, Canada. Now a semiretired freelance writer, he focuses on fiction and nonfiction writing projects.