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Alarms and Explosions on the St. Lawrence – Events from 2013

Events of the 2013 Commemoration of the War of 1812

The second year of the War of 1812 began on the St. Lawrence, with a raid on Ogdensburg. On February 21st, Lt. Colonel “Red” George led a contingent of British troops and Canadian militia, on a raid to punish the Americans of Ogdensburg, for attacks on Prescott and Gananoque. After British crossed-over the river and looted Ogdensburg, taking back what had been taken from them, American townsfolk banished Forsyth's the Rifles and quietly descended to the frontier until the following year.

A commemoration was held on the weekend of 22-23rd  February 2013 with re-enactments of the raid, fireworks, 1812 military demonstrations and displays at Fort Wellington;, the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in Prescott, and a country ball.

The year also began quietly, with a re-enactment of the march of the 104th Foot, on February 16th 2013, from Moncton, New Brunswick, arriving in Kingston, Ontario on April 12th. Each segment of the route march was performed by Canadian reserve units, who perpetuate Canadian militia units of the war of 1812. The march arrived at the Quebec/Ontario border on April 6th, where Les Fusiliers de Montreal handed over to the local militia – the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders. Marching from Bainsville, Ontario, the group marched thorough Cornwall and Prescott, to Brockville where they transferred the 104th flag to the Brockville Rifles, who arrived in Kingston on April 12th, 2013.

Cornwall commemorated 1812 events, by displaying new street banners throughout the town in May, highlighting various personalities and groups from the town.

Brockville became the next community to host an 1812 event, with a visit by Tall Ships from the 14th to 16th of June, 2013; the first port of call for the Tall Ships tour, a total of twelve Canadian and international sailing ships visited the port. Tours of the ships were held at the wharves, along with 1812 displays, food concessions, children's activities and an aboriginal encampment, with an evening finale of the 1812 Overture with ship's cannon fire.

The following weekend of June 21-23 witnessed the Spencerville Heritage Fair where the civilian side of 1812 life was explored with exhibitions of period food, medicine, and dancing. Re-enactments were held of a local election and dueling.

On June 21st Kahnawake dedicated a monument to the aboriginal contributions to the war effort, and specifically the names of 73 Kahnawake warriors, who participated in the Battle of Chateauguay.

The Lost Villages Historical Society held Tattoo 2013, in commemoration of the war. Canadian and American re-enactors held demonstrations and an encampment on site, with a Settlers Market. There were several performances by the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highland Pipers, the McCullough dancers, The Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Band, the Ceol na nGael singers, Rebecca Skye, and the City of Brockville Pipes and Drums. A community dinner was held afterwards.

The major event of the year was the Battle of Crysler's Farm Re-enactment, held at the National Battlefield Park on 13th-14th July. This was attended by over 500 re-enactors and several thousand visitors. All kinds of activities were ,with significant ceremonies involving the United Empire Loyalists, presentation of colours to the Canadian Regiment of Fencible Infantry, gun runs, and a commemoration with the Voltigeurs de Quebec.

This weekend was followed on July 20th with the Crysler Village celebration of John Crysler and the dedication of a new park and community buildings. Various 1812 activities were held on-site with demonstrations of local crafts and skills. Voyageur canoe rides were held on the South Nation River.

The Glengarry Pioneer Museum held their annual 1812 encampment, on September 15th with a small encampment and demonstrations of drill and horsemanship.

The year ended with a series of remembrance commemorations, beginning with the November 9th Iroquois Point dedication of four plaques, on the invasion of Canada in 1813 and a re-enactment of the battle there. This was followed the next day on November 10th at Hoople's Creek, with a re-enactment of the holding action which prevented the Americans reaching Cornwall in time to seize the supplies held there. Finally the November 11th Crysler's Farm Battle Bicentenary Service was attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and national media, for the first time in Canadian history.

All in all, an eventful year of re-enactments, encampments, events, demonstrations and activities. The war shifted to other areas, for the duration of the conflict and peace settled on the northern frontier of Canada and the United States

All Photographs by Morley Verdier

By Morley Verdier

Morley Verdier holds a Masters Degree from Royal Military College, in Kingston.  He is a retired public servant, having worked in several Departments of the Canadian government in Ottawa, including the Senate.  He began researching his grandfather’s  initial service, with the 16th Battalion – Canadian Scottish and later with the 1st Division HQ and discovered his father was a cartographer and machine gun officer.  Morley’s latest project includes the Russell Legion Branch 372 memorial project, which identified and catalogued all service members listed, on the five cenotaphs in Russell Township – Russell, Embrun, Limoges, Vars and Casselman, Ontario.  In addition to his interest in the War of 1812, he is the the past president of the National Capital Civil War Round Table, in Ottawa.

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Michael Whittaker
Comment by: Michael Whittaker ( )
Left at: 8:19 AM Sunday, March 16, 2014
Morley, my friend, may I add some clarity to your review of 2013:

February 22, Lt. Col. “Red” George Macdonnell led a contingent of British troops and Canadian militia on a raid to punish the American troops in Ogdensburg for attacks on Brockville and Gananoque. Military supplies and materiel were taken back to Prescott. Much of the looting attributed to Canadians now seems likely to have been perpetrated by American from surrounding communities. Forstyh's Rifles retreated to Sackets Harbor. A multi-million dollar loan to the US government arranged by Ogdensburg businessman David Parish kept the village free of US forces.

Ironically, the organizers of the Tall Ships in Brockville really had no 1812 participation. The re-enactment units, Grenville Militia and Forsyth's Rifles, were not invited, although their calendars were open.

Generally speaking the re-enactment at Crysler's Farm was a disappointment to participating re-enactors, exhibitors and sutlers.

In Dunvegan, the Glengarry Pioneer Museum War of 1812 Weekend featured a Friday education day for local schools. This was very successful and will be repeated. Re-enactors enjoy this small event. Rain that weekend had a marginally dampening effect on the public. The dragoons were very popular.

The series of November events commemorating Crysler's Farm and the skirmishes leading to that famous battle were well attended.

Readers can learn more about the War of 1812 at the War of 1812 Heritage Talks in Ogdensburg, NY April 25-26, 2014.

Michael Whittaker
Linda Mainse
Comment by: Linda Mainse ( )
Left at: 3:12 PM Tuesday, March 18, 2014
A great wrap on the 2013 1812 Bicenteniial events but also want to give a shout out to the great Volunters in Gananoque who hosted the 104th of foot regiment in April, Welcomed Flames of war, Parks Canada ON Tour and the Flotilla Re-enactors/Tall Ships en-route from Fort Henry to Chrysler's Farm for our July 7th - 9th "The Mosquito Fleet - Mulcaster's Pursuit" event. The ships were welcomed and later sent off with the Gananoque 3 Cannon Salute. As August ended we hosted the Lois McClure during her tour commemorating the Bicentennial. Visitors toured the 88' long boat and were welcomed to an entertaining talk by Art Cohn, author and historian. The past two years truly have been rich in heritage experiences all along our river and thanks to all who made it possible.Final year: