19TH Annual CRA-Canada AGM - 2010
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Visit website http://www.iaw.com/~jsek/1812unit.htm for an overview of the War of 1812 Re-enactment Units. The tour began with scenic views between Niagara Falls and Old Fort Erie before lunch at Betty's Restaurant in Chippewa.
Our Tour Guide, Darryl, was a political science student at the local university. Members of our group, including those who had visited the fort before, agreed that they learned much about the War of 1812 that they had not known before.
The first set of pictures includes a rest stop along the river, a view of the monument to fallen soldiers from both the British and American sides, and the service centre/shop at the site.
Our guide notes that the original fort was built down by the river. Soldiers were often given the privilege of leaving the fort to hunt deer and have a cook-out. It was relatively easy for the civilian militia to escape to the American side if they desired, because there were few distinguishing differences to tell them apart from the general population.
After we enter the soldiers' common area, Darryl emphasizes the lack of privacy in their sleeping and eating quarters.
Darryl explains that his rank does not permit him to enter these officers' quarters. We don't know if this is simple role-playing or if he fears that the "ghost" would push him down the stairs if he went inside.
The dining room and kitchen could get crowded. The equivalent of a "dutch oven" sits on the table, but Darryl prefers an iron skillet for most of his cooking. A huge kettle sits in a corner to the right for the preparation of soups and porridges.
The stores were generally run by a civilian. This one was run by a former soldier, now retired, but mindful of the fact that a soldier's income was very low. Darryl says that the manager of this store did not charge exhorbitant prices . . . although others often charged several times the value of the goods with impunity.
Our guide relaxes at a cannon before the battle demonstration outside the walls of the fort. As a member of the militia, Darryl wore a white scarf on his hat in order to be distinguished from the American forces. The different kinds of troops from the local pool of civilians (green uniforms) to the experienced troops . . . were explained by a representative of the First Nations (probably from Tecumseh's loyal Shawnee forces). The Americans feared the natives because they knew that natives killed all captives by scalping them. [The green uniforms of the civilian militia seem sensible and a better camouflage but, in the heat of battle they were not as easily identified as friendly by the brightly outfitted British in red and white. Thus, many were killed by friendly fire.]
We are told that the rifles may not fire one time in five, and that appears to be proven correct at the demonstration.
Our guide at Brock's Monument seemed to be a clone of the one at Fort Erie, but possibly the only thing they had in common was that they attended Brock University. Our group stood in the shade while the guide gave us a general outline about the monument and the heights or cliffs.
The 56-metre monument has a 235-step spiral staircase inside with portals to view the river and battle site. A decision was made to remain at the top of the escarpment while our guide recounted the details of the battles. A photo from the outlook point gives a clear view of Canadian lands to the left and American lands to the right. This was also a convenient spot for a group picture to be taken.
Our tour guide could not explain why Parks Canada allowed an incorrect spelling of "COLOUR" to be placed on the plaque below. Although such a Corps would be politically incorrect in today's Canada, some military units existed here until World War II.
A monument to Laura Secord also adorns the battlefield at Queenston Heights, and the inscription details her heroic involvement.
Laura Ingersoll Secord
who saved her husband's life
in the battle on these heights
October 10th 1812
and who risked her own
in conveying to Capt. Fitzgibbon
information by which he won
the Victory of Beaver Dams
With storm clouds moving in, the group took a short break before going to the Floral Clock on the bus. It became too windy to include Niagara-on-the-Lake with this tour, so Andy made "an executive decision" to return to the Best Western motel. [A few members took the drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake on Sunday afternoon.]
GREG FREWIN BUFFET & MAGIC SHOW
At around 6:15 pm we took a shuttle taxi over to the Greg Frewin show, where our group sat together at reserved tables and had an excellent meal with our choice of beverage. In my opinion, the sound was too loud during the Magic Show, and the dancers contributed very little to the performance. Occasionally, the stage lighting interfered with the enjoyment of the tricks. Other than that, I must say that there were a couple of great illusions which I had never seen before . . . particularly one where he appeared to pass through the body of his partner who was suspended in air.
After the show, Rob Ross persuaded his mother to go to the stage where they "sat in a cage with the tiger".
The ride home in our shuttle taxi was almost as exciting as the magic show. The driver owned a reconverted police car and everyone on the street, including parking lot attendants, seemed to recognize him and the car. Every street around the theatre was clogged. No problem! He was waved through the parking lots and one-way streets all of the way back to the hotel. He even drove around a slower car and pulled into the street as soon as he saw a small opening. Whew! What a ride!