Robert Nichol (c. 1780-1824) was one of the most prominent men in Upper Canada. After a brief stint as a sailor, he went to work for a relative, Robert Hamilton, in the Niagara area. Hamilton was one of the richest businessmen in Upper Canada. Nichol then apprenticed to Hamilton's son-in-law, John Askin, as a clerk, in the Detroit-Windsor area. At different times, both men relied on young Nichol to handle matters of extreme delicacy, and he rarely disappointed.
Nichol soon became a wealthy businessman, politician and soldier, was elected MLA for Norfolk County in 1812 and re-elected twice. During the War of 1812, Major-General Isaac Brock insisted on appointing him Quartermaster-General of Militia for Upper Canada, stating that no one else in the province could do the job. Nichol had an excellent grasp of transportation and shipping in the province, was connected to all kinds of important people, and, it was said, never forgot a fact once he had learned it.
I first became aware of Robert Nichol because of his Norfolk connection. His estate, near Port Dover, was located about 20 minutes from where I live. When I got involved in War of 1812 re-enacting in 2007, I became even more interested, and for a few years, Bob Blakeley and I did presentations about Nichol, his life and times. The more I learned about Nichol, the more fascinated I became. In time, I realized he would make a wonderful detective and that writing about him would give me a chance to explore various aspects of the 1812 period in an imaginative way. The result:
The Colonel Nichol Mysteries
A planned series of six mystery novels featuring Lieutenant Colone Robert Nichol and his loyal servant Wallace. Set in Upper Canada during the War of 1812, the mysteries evoke an exciting and dangerous period and often feature historical characters, including General Isaac Brock.
Colonel Nichol and the Murdered Maiden
In August 1812, two months into the War of 1812, General Isaac Brock leads troops from the Lake Erie port of Dover to the Detroit River, determined to repel invading Americans. With him are his trusted advisor Robert Nichol, quartermaster general of militia for Upper Canada and Nichol’s devoted companion Wallace, a young man of mixed black and white ancestry who owes his freedom – and his very life – to Nichol. At the far western end of the province, Nichol and Wallace not only find the enemy, they also become embroiled in the investigation of a horrific murder. Their quest to find the killer threatens the very future of the province, ultimately uncovering a dark secret.
E-book available now at www.amazon.ca and www.kobo.com. Paperback available August 20. Details at www.heronwoodent.ca
Colonel Nichol and the Roadside Corpse
Colonel Nichol returns briefly to Dover in April 2013 to spend time with his wife Theresa as he assesses the availability of food and other supplies in the area. What should have been a pleasant sojourn quickly turns to tragedy, first with the suicide of one of the Norfolk volunteers who served with Nichol at Detroit, then with the murder of another brother-in-arms. Nichol and Wallace search for the murderer as they go about their business and Norfolk -- and soon find their own lives in danger!
Available November 2015