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In the 1870s, a teenage thief from New York, in search of his show business mother, gets collared by a keen-eyed cop from Canada’s newly created national police force — the North West Mounted Police. Following the encounter, he unwillingly finds himself hired on, with a cantankerous wagon master, to accompany the Mounties on their 1874 expedition into Canada’s untamed and lawless west. The March West, as it became known, was a horrendous trek involving 275 men, 340 horses, 142 oxen, and 75 wagons. The Mounties’ job was to travel the 800 miles west into the territory of the whiskey traders and outlaws to restore order in the northwest. It was a trip where they endured terrible hardships: lack of water and firewood, and insect plagues. Most of the horses died, and the equipment soon proved to be inadequate. Their fate changed, however, when they met up with Jerry Potts, an extraordinary guide, who lead them to the hub of the illegal whiskey trade at Fort Whoop-up. This rollicking and humorous historical adventure story sheds light on a colourful chapter of Canadian history. In McDivitt’s capable hands that history comes to life again. Redcoats and Renegades is Barry McDivitt’s second book of historical fiction for young adults.

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