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Donna Winters

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Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal
by Donna Winters   

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Books by Donna Winters
· Great Lakes Christmas Classics
· Fayette--A Time To Leave
· Fayette - A Time to Laugh
· Fayette--A Time to Love
· Rosalie of Grand Traverse Bay
                >> View all


Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Bigwater Publishing LLC Type: 


Copyright:  May 2012 ISBN-13:  ISBN9780923048921

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Great Lakes Romances

Dreams of floating on the Erie Canal have flowed through Lucina Willcox’s mind since childhood. Yet once her family has purchased their boat and begins their journey, they meet with one challenge after another.

 Dreams of floating on the Erie Canal have flowed through Lucina Willcox’s mind since childhood. Yet once her family has purchased their boat and begins their journey, they meet with one challenge after another. An encounter with a towpath rattlesnake threatens her brother’s life. A thief attempts to break in and steal precious cargo. Heavy rain causes a breach and drains the canal of water. Lucina comforts herself with thoughts of Ezra Lockwood, her handsome childhood friend, and discovers a longing to be with him that she just can’t ignore. Can she have a future with Ezra and still hold onto her canalling dream?

                Ezra Lockwood’s one goal in life is to build and captain his own canal boat, but two years into the construction of his freight hauler, funds run short. With his goal temporarily stalled, and Lucina Willcox back in his life, his priorities begin to change. Can he have both his dreams — his own boat, and Lucina as his bride?   


Praise for Bluebird of Brockport

Donna Winters tells a rollicking good story, full of action, romance, and mystery, that conveys a very pervasive feeling of authenticity for Erie Canal life in the 1830s. She is especially good at developing credible, likable characters and describing family dynamics.

William G. Andrews, Ph. D., Village of Brockport Historian Emeritus and author of four books on Brockport history


A well-written and enjoyable account set during the 1830s Erie Canal days, Bluebird of Brockport recalls life’s struggles that helped form the American values system.  Supported by faith and friends, families faced the threats of adversaries, discovered solutions to mysteries, as well as experienced the wonder of unfolding romance.

Tom Castaldi, author Wabash & Erie Canal Notebook series


Brockport, New York
Friday, April 30, 1830

Lucina Willcox could hardly keep from shouting for joy. Today, she and her mama and papa and younger sister and brother would move their belongings onto their canal boat. Tomorrow, they’d start hauling freight on the Erie Canal. For the past seven years, since the age of eleven, she’d dreamed of leaving their wheat farm a few miles north of the village to go canalling. Now, her dream was about to come true!

Her heart pattered faster as their farm wagon, filled with furniture, kegs, crates, and firkins, bumped and rattled up the hill, past blooming dogwood that sweetened the balmy air, and onto the Main Street Bridge. Suddenly, she caught sight of the boat that she’d carried in her mind since their trip to town a month ago to buy it used from Mr. Brockway. It had been in dry dock then for repairs. Now, it floated in a boat basin near the bridge, glistening in the bright sun with a new coat of bluebird-tweetin’-blue paint.

From her seat on a keg in the bed of the wagon she tried to read the name painted on the boat’s stern. But her reading and writing started and stopped with her own name, and she knew it wasn’t Lucina Maria Willcox that she saw.

“Papa!” she hollered. “What’re those words on the end of our boat?”

He looked back over his shoulder, his blue eyes gleaming beneath the brim of his brown hat, a smile lifting the silver-blond mustache that drooped at the corners of his mouth. “What’ve you been calling it since your last trip here, gal?”

“Bluebird of Brockport.”

“That’s tweetin’ right, gal! Bluebird of Brockport!”

“Jumping Johnny Appleseed! You named her Bluebird of Brockport after all!” For a month, her folks had told her that the only name they’d allow on the boat’s hind end was her mama’s, Maria. Turned out they’d been joking her. Tears of joy pricked her eyes.

“Shoulda known you’d get your way,” claimed her seventeen-year-old sister, Susan.

“What do you care?” Myron, their thirteen-year-old brother, pushed back his straw hat and glared.

Susan answered him with a scowl that could have soured a pail of milk.

Lucina ignored their exchange, her gaze settling on a tall, broad-shouldered fella who almost always wore a red shirt. Ezra Lockwood. Twenty-four years old and every inch a man. Had to be him. In the seven years she’d known him, he’d seldom worn a shirt of a different color, red being his favorite. He and a crew of men pounded planks onto the frame of a boat not far from the Bluebird of Brockport. She’d thought of Ezra more than a time or two since their last encounter a month ago. At night when she’d close her eyes, there he’d be with his coffee-colored hair dipping in a wave across his forehead, his side whiskers, full and curly, hiding half his cheeks. Then she’d gaze straight into his chocolate eyes and the warmth of them would melt her heart.

Professional Reviews

Delightful, Suspenseful, and Educational!
By Nancee
Donna Winters weaves a delightful tale of historical fiction with well-researched and factual aspects of the early years of canalling in the state of New York. Romantic components are woven into the story in a tasteful and poignant style for the time frame. In 1830 young Lucina Willcox and her family leave their wheat farm in the care of the family's oldest sons as they embark on the adventures of hauling freight along the Erie Canal. Lucinda's childhood dreams of canalling are finally being fulfilled. A used canal boat was purchased, repaired and repainted Lucina's favorite color, "bluebird-tweetin'-blue," and named Bluebird of Brockport. Upon arriving in Brockport where the family's journey begins, 24-year-old Ezra Lockwood assists the family in moving onto the canal boat. Lucina and Ezra are old friends who discover a developing attraction for one another. Ezra's goals are to build his own canal boat as he dreams of becoming a freight hauler. Ezra's money is tight, his time limited, and vandals persist in delaying his dream, but perseverence prevails. The Willcox family's excitement heightens as their journey through the Erie Canal begins. Unforeseen challenges emerge as the family travels the canal. As Lucina's younger brother directs the mules along the towpath his life is threatened by a rattlesnake bite. Heavy rains cause a breach in the canal, draining the water, grounding canal boats and endangering lives. Thieves and unsavory characters abound throughout the book, and dangers lurk around every corner.

Ms. Winters has created a very detailed, factual description of the Erie Canal as it was in 1830, and provides a glossary of terms explaining the descriptions associated with canalling which I found very helpful. Bluebird of Brockport has a very strong plot which contains adventure, suspense, as well as a colorful cast of characters who kept me amused throughout the book. Relationships blossom and numerous activities evolve, creating new interest at every turn. This is a beautifully written tale of simple people and their daily trials and tribulations, who show their strengths and weaknesses and a strong faith in God. The factual accounts are not only educational but very interesting. I highly recommend Bluebird of Brockport for all ages and genders. I could see this book being used in the classroom as an educational experience for young readers learning about the elements of the Erie Canal.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Not a Simple Canal Tale
This historical romance, "The Bluebird of Brockport", set against the environs of the Erie Canal, transports the reader back to the 1830s as seen through the eyes of the heroine Lucina Wilcox and hero Ezra Lockwood. Through Lucina's family travels along the canal, its boaters come vibrantly alive. They present a striking contrast with the more civil and social town life of Brockport as seen through the eyes of the hero Ezra Lockwood. Together their lives exemplify the struggles, joys, and toils of the people along the canal in that era.
What I most loved about this book were the similes, such as speaking with a "tone sweeter than an angel choir". I loved the picturesque imagery such as describing a smell as "a mix of barnyard and chicken coup", and tavern revelers with "...voices carrying across the water on vapors of alcohol." I also loved the quirky characters and usage of vernacular, such as, "tuck in and vittle up." Another strength can be found in this book's historical accuracy. Also appreciated is the glossary at the beginning for unfamiliar terms, and the Kindle version also comes with a dictionary.
This being a Christian novel, faith easily slips into the story line through dialogue and prayers without being preachy. There are vile men, hints of violence, and a villain, who provides a real threat, but there are plenty of red herrings to throw the reader off the trail. Although a tad predictable in that it is an historical romance, the strong plot holds the reader's interest and many hooks keep the reader turning pages. A surprise near the end catches the reader off guard and heightens suspense. Will the end be an "all's well that ends well"? Buy the book at and find the answers. "The Bluebird of Brockport" is Donna Winters' best story yet. I read it in the Kindle version.

Travel Back In Time Along the Erie Canal
I received a review copy of this book from the author. Donna Winters' Bluebird of Rockport is a must read for those who like historical Christian fiction. The Bluebird of Rockport revolves around the Wilcox family and their adventures canalling along the Erie Canal and provides the reader with plenty of suspense and adventure. Lucina Wilcox is a lively girl full of inquisition and a desire to learn to read. Her favorite color is blue but not just any blue...bluebird-tweetin-blue is all that will do. Lucina and her childhood friend, Ezra Lockwood find themselves smitten with each other but a problem keeps them apart. However, Lucina finds a way to begin fixing the problem when she meets the professor who joins the Wilcox family for a time. Even though Lucina and her family faced many trials along the Erie Canal, their faith kept them strong. Their most trying time is when Lucina's father takes ill and they are not sure if he will live. As her father continues to hang on day by day, he is able to see Ezra launch his boat, marry off his two daughters, and continue canalling with Ezra's boat following behind.

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