About Vanessa Farnsworth

Born and raised in southern Ontario, Vanessa is a writer and journalist who makes her home in the BC Interior. She received her education from York University, the Humber School for Writers, and the print journalism program at Sheridan College where she picked up the TJ Allen Memorial Award for journalism. Her numerous articles on nature, the environment and agriculture have appeared in magazines across Canada and her short fiction has been published in Canadian and American literary journals. One of her stories was nominated for the Journey Prize. Vanessa is the author of three books: Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada (Creative Non-fiction, Signature Editions, 2013), The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind (Short Fiction, Thistledown Press, 2018) and The Haweaters (Novel, Signature Editions, 2020).

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From the publisher:

Bitter rivals. Festering animosities. Gossip, innuendo and scandal. And don’t forget the gun. A ragtag group of settlers come to Manitoulin Island in the 1870s with dreams of building a better future. What they find instead is murder. Based on the real-life 1877 killings of two members of one family by two members of another, 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 the prosperity they know they deserve in this rugged wilderness community. But as people and animals go wayward — and the lawman’s warnings go unheeded — it seems increasingly doubtful things will come to a peaceful end unless cool heads somehow prevail. But cool heads are in short supply. So when the whiskey starts to flow, the only questions that remain are: Who will strike first? Who will remain standing when the battle is finished? And what in God’s name is anyone supposed to do about it on an island where rules are forever being broken, the law is constantly changing, and no one seems inclined to pull back from the brink of a disaster that has been brewing since the day these families first arrived? It’s early summer on Manitoulin Island and things are about to get brutal.

The Haweaters brings to life the violent, real-life double murder of Charles and William Bryan by two members of the Amer family on Manitoulin Island in 1877. Well known in its day, but unknown to us now, this murder pitted a wealthy landowner against his impoverished neighbour. It’s a tale of treachery, gossip, drunkenness, arson and the merciless deaths of two not-so-innocent victims.


“This novel is based on the real-life double murder of Charles and William Bryan by two members of the Amer family on Manitoulin Island in 1877 – a murder that pitted a wealthy landowner against his impoverished neighbour.”

Prairie Books NOW

“Gossip, innuendo, murder … “

BC BookWorld

“When the historical novel The Haweaters was released earlier this month, Canadians were introduced to a tale of murder that has circulated on Manitoulin Island for many…

The Wellington Advertiser