"Tintamarre!" is historical fiction. This genre generally involves interweaving fictional stories about fictional people with real events and actual people.
I consulted as many original sources as I could find: dispatches, journals and other documents about events that related to Acadia from the period from 1749 to 1756. These included the diaries of Bancroft, Thomas, de Fiedmont, Winslow, Pichon, de Courville and Cornwallis. I did up comparative tables from different sources of dates and times to try and confirm the order of events and even looked at the weather to see how it might have affected events.
I looked at detailed reports of battles and even measured distances between key points to consider the logistics of how things might have happened and whether commonly accepted order of events were even possible.
I extensively studied hundreds of websites that reported on the times, genealogy of key characters, architecture of buildings / forts, maps, city plans, drawings, garrison lists, arms & weapons. Acadian descendants, looking for their highly personal family histories, are a remarkable resource of intelligence on the people and times.
I explored in rubber boots the main locations for the stories and even walked on the battlefields and out on an ancient Acadian dike and at my feet discovered a pottery bowl left there at some time in the distant past.
And I read the legendary historians who devoted lives to studying and reporting on the period, including: Trueman, Milner, Parkman, Beamish, Webster, Fowler/Lockerby and a few others.
Wikipedia was a friend, not so much for its contents, but for its links to references and sources.
I interviewed the top historians on the subject matter: Ronnie Gilles Leblanc of Parks Canada, Ruth Whitehead: the esteemed MiqMaq historian, David Mawhinney at Mount Allison, Francois LeBlanc at l'University de Moncton and Juliette Bulmer at For Beausejour. I cross examined local historians like Don Colpitts, Ron Trueman and Colin Mackinnon who still, every spring, go out on the marshes and look for relics.
And I got it wrong... Well really, I didn’t get it all wrong, I just presented a different version of the facts to suit my story. Sort of like many of our daily newspapers do these days.
Actual events are re-ordered in any way I wanted them to be to tell the story. Some time frames were extended while others were condensed; many events were ignored while others were invented.
I confess to inventing personalities for real people that are in the book. Many of these personality strengths and faults that I assign to real people come from actual descriptions written at the time, close to contemporary reports and their own documents. But a few suffered from far more fictional biographies than others.
Benoni Danks, in contemporary reports, was not a very scrupulous man. There is no indication that he was even around during the time covered by Tintamarre; most likely he appeared around 1758. But Danks - as a figure in the novel - is a consolidation of many different people. I chose him as a main character because his biography was one that captured my imagination when I first started thinking about writing the book.
I apologize to those descendants of Danks who are disappointed with my representation. (I am a step-descendant - his daughter married a direct ancestor: Hez King, after Benoni's death)
The rather terrible depiction I offer of the MiqMaq leader, Jean Baptiste Cope, is based upon observations mainly by British opponents of the day, but are supported by other aboriginal leaders of the time as reported to me by the top historians of the place, period and people.
Jean Louis Le Loutre is a highly controversial figure and I probably studied him more than any other character in the book. I invented many of his personality flaws, but I think I fairly accurately describe his conflicted positions on the Church, the King, the MiqMaqs and Acadians and the difference between his vision and reality.
A last apology in advance is the title I give to the aboriginal people in the eastern Provinces. I refer to them consistently as "MiqMaqs" although there are many variations similar to this. But it seems that Mikmaq is a derivation by the English of the welcoming phrase used by aboriginal people of the time. According to the top historian, the word they most likely used for themselves was probably "L'nu'k" or "Onoog".
It's generally accepted that "Mohawks" did not join with the Massachusetts Fencibles / Militia. The aboriginals who traveled with them were called this, but were likely Mohegans and other Maine area tribes.
My last conflict with reality. There isn't really a buried treasure at Tintamarre. Or is there…