Gavin is a retired Sales and Marketing executive with a BASc degree from the University of Toronto in Engineering and Business. He was born in Toronto in 1937 and grew up at the north end’s City Limits. He met his wife Gill in Sunday school when they were eight and they were married fourteen years later. He has a family of three – two daughters and a son who are devoted historians.
After ten years in the paints and plastics industries, he joined a flexible packaging company and in 1989, was part way through an MBA equivalent when he was downsized out of a 19-year career. So, he decided to pursue his post-retirement plan to write Canadian military history – albeit a bit sooner than expected.
This was not as illogical as it might appear. In the midst of fathering a family, leading a sales force, heading a shooting club and a reenactment regiment, in 1984, he republished Ernest Cruikshank’s regimental history of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York to which he had added a detailed master roll of the 1,500 men who had served and several images of related artifacts.
To get that first book off the ground, there had been a many, many weekend visits to the Metro Toronto Research Library and Archives Ontario and some pilgrimages to Library and Archives Canada. He read many books and quickly developed a wide network of amateur and professional historian friends who were pleased to share their findings. His personal library and collection of documents grew and grew.
One of the great benefits to come from reenacting was his acquaintance with American historians who were every bit as passionate about their Revolution as Gavin was about their rebellion. With his concentration on British and Canadian source materials, it might be thought that his books would exhibit the jingoistic presentations of so many American accounts; however, his friends’ contributions to his research enabled him to write evenhandedly, which has been very well received by most Canadian and American readers alike.
All that concentrated engineering and business training and years of writing sales and marketing reports paid off. Research continued apace which led to a series of books. These have been acknowledged as well-researched, easy to read and especially well-balanced.
Currently, he is researching the subject of non-military refugees who came to Canada during the Revolutionary War – their names, relationships and how and where they were housed and provisioned.