Canada's first novelist is the usual reply.1 He was born at Amherstberg in present day southern Ontario in 1796. When the War of 1812 broke out, he was sixteen, bored with school and fired up to join the Army in defence of Upper Canada against the Americans. He became a volunteer in the 41st Regiment, was involved in the surrender of Detroit to the British, took part in a number of skirmishes and battles in the years 1812 and 1813 in the Western District region of the front, until he was captured, together with most of his regiment, at the ignominious defeat at Moraviantown in October 1813. He spent a year as a prisoner of war in Frankfort, Kentucky under difficult circumstances before being paroled back to Canada, this time with a full commission in the British Army. On the way over to fight Napoleon's second coming, the Battle of Waterloo was fought and for the first time in a generation Europe found itself with an uneasy peace. Richardson became part of a surplus war machine, scratched and scraped for the retention of his full commission by getting posted to the West Indies for a year, before lapsing back into the life of a half-pay British officer spent mainly in France in the mid-twenties.
Healy, Jack, Richardson, Indians and Empire: History, Social Memory and the Poverty of Postcolonial Theory, Kunapipi, 16(3), 1994.