History of Moneymaker Lake Blends with Modern Fiction in Debut Novel

By Lura Jackson

While Washington County is steeped in history, it isn’t often that it becomes the subject of a novel. Through a roundabout course of events, legal scholar Robert Murrant of Nova Scotia took a choice piece of the area’s sordid past – the story of counterfeiting and murder at Moneymaker Lake – and wove it into the present in Moneymaker Lake, his first foray into literature.

Even though Moneymaker Lake is Murrant’s first novel, he has had plenty of experience as a writer through his background as a legal scholar. By the time he was 25, his publications were being cited with approval by the Canadian Supreme Court. Through his colorful career, he has been on the Editorial Board of Canadian Lawyer Magazine and served as legal counsel for CBC, CTV, Thomson Publications, Southam, Canadian Community Newspapers Association, and more.

Despite his extensive experience in legal writing, Murrant lamented, “Never did I have the chance or the time to express my social and economic conscience by means of personal authorship.”

But that wasn’t always going to be the case. Murrant found his inspiration in Maine, a place he has been familiar with since the age of 11, he shares. “Millions of people cross that border and never ever stop. I stopped.” Murrant’s relationship with Maine has expanded in surprising directions over the course of his life. “I have invented a hockey team in Lewiston, skied Sugarloaf, sailed the coast, hiked the forests and strutted the beaches as well as dabbled with Black Bears hockey,” he provides.

Murrant’s particular relationship with Washington County began on his first day of law school in 1969. “I met and immensely liked John Mitchell from Calais, a tiny stopping place I knew oh so well. Now, with my multiple runs to Boston, Calais became much more than a whistle stop.”

During his visits to Washington County, Murrant shares that he absorbed and endorsed the culture, “but never could get around folks mentioning Moneymaker Lake. Wacky indeed those Mainieacs. Lakes don’t make money.”

It wasn’t until Murrant found himself laid up as a cancer patient fumbling with his laptop that Moneymaker Lake came up again – and he began diving into the story. “Enough was enough, and thus, I started and could not stop.”

The story of Moneymaker Lake revolves around a counterfeiter named Ebeneezer Ball who engaged in dipping pewter coins into gold and then stamping them with the imprint of the Spanish king of the time. His operation at Moneymaker Lake was discovered by a local surveyor and, not long afterward, a deputized Calais man by the name of John Downes showed up. The historical account of what happened next is not clear, but Ball’s musket went off at some point and Downes was killed. In 1811, Ball was the first person in Maine to be hanged.

Murrant has plumbed the depths of the historical record to explore the account in detail, utilizing the understanding he gained at the London School of Economics to flesh out the economic history at the time.

From that historical era, Murrant moves his story into the modern day with the fictitious Thomas Tucker Worthington of Robbinston and his parents, Anne Tucker of the Tucker Plantation and Mitchell Tucker from Eastport. After leaving Washington County for a career on Wall Street, a market crash on Thanksgiving and “related terrorism” sends him home, Murrant provides. What he finds upon returning is an unexpected surprise.


Moneymaker Lake: The love of money is the root of nothing is available now as an e-book on Amazon.com.