When Charles Clarke settled in Elora, Ontario, in 1848 he joined the ranks of the province's radical reformers, becoming a vigorous critic of everything in Canada that smacked of the old regime - rank, privilege, and monopoly - and an enthusiastic supporter of everything promised by the new - equity, democracy, and individual opportunity. He played a prominent role in drafting the "Clear Grit" platform of 1851, supporting such ideas as a householder's suffrage, the secret ballot, and representation by population. He later espoused the two great causes of nineteenth-century Anglo-Canadian liberalism - provincial rights in Canada and Irish Home Rule in Britain. Equally involved in local affairs - from the Sons of Temperance to the Natural History Society - Clarke tirelessly promoted the natural beauties of Elora and tried to protect the environment of the Grand River gorge from the ravages of industry and human carelessness. Using Clarke's journalistic writings, his private diary, and a memoir he wrote later in life, Kenneth Dewar paints a vivid picture of Clarke's evolving sense of himself and his world in an age of profound transformation.