The concept of Swiss mercenary soldiers sounds ludicrous. But such a regiment actually existed, and after serving in the Napoleonic Wars these soldiers were hired to come to Canada to fight in the War of 1812. When that conflict ended, Lord Selkirk hired them to protect the Red River settlers. The de Meuron soldiers eventually brought their families to Canada and settled in St. Boniface, a Winnipeg suburb named after the regiment.
Ha! Betcha didn’t know that! I just love research.
And the best part is that Charles-Daniel was born in Neuchatel, Switzerland, which is exactly the same town where I went to boarding school. Serendipity strikes again. In honour of this connection, Peter gets to have de Meuron as his last name.
But yet again, I digress. The point here is that the military will be playing a role in this story, just as the military did in the 1997 flood. When dealing with actual history, it is important that the fiction remain true and this story cannot be told without the soldiers.
The 1997 flood was an important PR event for the Canadian military. Fresh off the Somali Affair, dubbed “Canada’s national shame”, the military needed to repair their domestic and international image. The flood provided them with a national stage from which they could show proof of their integrity. Some soldiers reported that the thank-you letters they received from the residents of the Red River Valley, particularly the children, were the highlight of their military career.
For a wonderful video of the military in action during the flood, click here.