Halifax Marching Tour
We pause briefly in the walking tours of Halifax. Time to get marching! Halifax is home of the 78th Highland Regiment, based in the Halifax Citadel, and today was Freedom of the City. Not every city has the pomp and circumstance of a regiment like this.
So what has this to do with Jamie Poole Books or Sisterhood of the Sword, the latest book which will be available in just over a week? Everything.
When I wrote Sisterhood of the Sword, I wanted to showcase Halifax and some of Nova Scotia's historical highlights. The 78th Highlanders made it to Chapter 1. Here are some excerpts which begin, much like the regiment's history, in Alexandria, Egypt. The year is 1807:
Private Harrison Borden stretched. Every part of his body ached. The fighting had ended. For now. He and the rest of the 78th Regiment of Foot reclined in their tented camp on a plain outside Alexandria. The 78th Regiment of Foot was a Highland Infantry Regiment of the Line raised by Francis Humberstone MacKenzie in late Eighteenth Century Scotland. Their first action, before Borden’s time, had begun in 1792 with the French Revolutionary Wars. He had joined up less than two years ago. Already the 78th had been active in the Netherlands, South Africa, and now Northern Africa.
As a result of their Scottish origin, Private Borden wore the MacKenzie tartan on his kilt, a uniform chosen because of the flexibility it provided in combat. Nearby, someone played the bagpipes. Borden had tossed off his glengarry bonnet to recline his head on his supply bag, listening while contemplating a nap. Perhaps the chap would soon stop. He was a bit too close.
This was the Alexandria Expedition, part of the Anglo-Turkish war, or more specifically part of the Napoleonic Wars, as they would be known. All Private Borden knew or cared about was their goal to secure Alexandria for a base of operation against the Ottoman Empire. The people of Alexandria, being disaffected toward Muhammad Ali of Cairo, had opened the gates to the city, making it one of the easiest conquests of the war.
As Private Borden catnapped despite the bagpipe, he had no way of knowing this victory would be short-lived. He couldn't guess a lack of British supplies would put them at a disadvantage against their Egyptian adversaries. What he knew was the city made him curious, and for this reason he decided against the nap. He wanted to explore. He stood and shook off any sand. He felt safe wandering the city. He donned the glengarry bonnet and took off. He nodded at fellow members of the 78th who guarded the main streets. Not that there was much to guard. After all, the citizens had opened the doors to them!
The city, walled and gated, was built along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and had been founded by Alexander the Great. Once it had boasted the greatest library in the world. There had been a lighthouse here, too, if Borden recalled correctly. He knew only the basics of the city’s history...
We shall pause here and spare some spoilers included in the book. Suffice it to say, Private Borden gets lost in Alexandria and meets a enigmatic woman who definitely had a very important secret and is in possession of a supernatural statue which she tries to sell to him. He also may have met the psychopath time traveler. The excursion, which lasted about an hour, left an impact on Borden for the rest of his life. Here we shall return to the story...
Returning to camp no worse for wear an hour later, Private Borden discovered his purse had indeed been stolen. On this account he felt discouraged for many reasons. He had a wife at home after all. And by god, that statue had been beautiful. He almost ached for want of it. Imagine his wife’s surprise if he returned from this war with a souvenir. It could be handed down to his son and his son’s son. A wonderful heirloom. Imagine the stories they’d tell! Borden wrote about it in his diary, but he didn’t tell any of the other men. He also never returned to purchase the statue. He never found the money. But he never forgot.
Harrison and Cora Borden had a son who also joined the 78th Highlanders. By now the 78th had expanded to North America. Their son, Conrad, served at Fort George on Citadel Hill in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Decendents of the Borden family remained in Halifax and heirlooms—uniforms, including hats and boots and sometimes swords
and guns, as well as medals and other baubles—were handed down. Harrison was remembered by his grandson, great-grandson, and even his great-great grandson who each read his diary. And they spoke often of the alabaster statue that Harrison couldn’t buy because he’d been pickpocketed. The question that chased through the family: What exactly had Grandpa Harrison seen?
This would prove an especially curious question for Hibbert Borden of the Royal Canadian Navy who would serve during World War II...
And here we will bid Private Borden goodbye. If you've been following the walking tour, perhaps you're seeing the connection between the statue, the Borden family, and World War II. After all, when we left Jamie Poole in the 3rd walking tour, she was back in Time in World War II. She was in the company of the same psychopath time traveler.
And so, once a year the Halifax mayor grants permission in a ceremony to allow the 78th Highlanders to March in uniform through the city streets for another year. Here is the proclamation that is read in the ceremony.
If you have never seen any of the ceremony, here are a few clips from today's events.
Sisterhood of the Sword is available September 1. Want the book?
You can also purchase any of the Jamie Poole Books directly from the author. Arrangements can be made by emailing: JamiePooleBooks@gmail.com.
In working with Hal-Con there can be arrangements for drop off within Halifax as we are a virtual vendor. Additionally two preferred vendors can also assist you in getting the books any time of year: