What's in a Name

Bishop's Barn, Manitoulin Island

I knew when I gave my historical novel the title of The Haweaters that I was saddling it with a term that most Canadians are unlikely to have heard before, but I was convinced that it was the correct title for my book, so I went with it even knowing that I would have some explaining to do when the book eventually hit bookstores. That explaining starts now.

Haweater is an obscure term unless you happen to live on northern Ontario's Manitoulin Island or are acquainted with folks who do. It's a nickname, one that was originally applied to the first European settlers of Manitoulin Island back in the late 1800s. Many of those early settlers endured difficult conditions, including starvation, and in order to survive became accustomed to eating the berries of the hawthorn trees -- locally known as hawberries -- that were (and are) ubiquitous on the island.

Considering that this book is about a small group of those early settlers whose hardships led to the islanders collectively becoming known as haweaters, it seemed appropriate to give the novel the nickname long associated with them.

It should be noted that although initially this nickname referred to those original European settlers, it's now synonymous with any non-indigenous person born on the island.

Based on the real-life 1877 killings of William and Charles Bryan by their neighbours, The Haweaters brings to life some of Manitoulin’s earliest European settlers as they struggle against nature, poverty, and each other in a collective quest to leave their dubious pasts behind them and attain prosperity in this rugged wilderness community. Learn more.