Another Country, Another Life

Calumny, Love, and the Secrets of Isaac Jelfs

Another Country, Another Life

For decades Patrick Boyer sleuthed the mystery of his great-grandfather. He knew only that James Boyer had come from England, was editor of Northern Ontario’s first newspaper, had been appointed by Ontario premier Oliver Mowat as Muskoka District Magistrate, and had important roles in municipal affairs as Bracebridge town clerk. But as a boy Patrick found old cases of law books with the name “Isaac Jelfs.” Nobody ever said anything about that, or about his anonymous great-grandfather. It took him years to discover that James Boyer and Isaac Jelfs were the same mysterious, fascinating man.

Isaac Jelfs had led many lives: a scapegoated law clerk in England; a soldier in the mad Crimean War; a lawyer on swirling Broadway Avenue in New York. His escape from each was wrapped in deep secrecy. He eventually reached Canada, in 1869, with a new wife and a changed name. In his new home — the remote wilderness of Muskoka — he crafted yet another persona for himself. In Another Country, Another Life that long-hidden journey is traced with candor and realism by his great-grandson.

In a biography that reads like a novel, Patrick lays bare Isaac Jelfs’s covered tracks, his loves, the calumny that redirected his career, and the reasons for his double life.


The tale of James Boyer’s formative years would not be out of place in a Charles Dickens novel, except this story is not fictitious.”Edward L. Greenspan, Q.C., author and leading Canadian barrister

Patrick Boyer displays his writer’s skills by integrating solid research, important history, and direct evidence in this compelling, and unusual, tribute to his ancestors.” – Hon. R. Roy McMurtry, Canadian High Commissioner to the U.K., Chief Justice of Ontario


Publisher: Dundurn, 2013
Category: Biography
ISBN: 9781459708402
Price: $24.99, Canada and U.S.A.
Format: Paperback, 328 pages, 6 x 9 inches
Features: 36 photographs, index


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