Commemorating the War of 1812

Commemorating the War of 1812by Ann Wallace

Back in our January edition, we promised a few details on how we can enjoy the many events planned to commemorate the War of 1812. Events commence this year, but will continue over the following two years, giving visitors to various sites in Eastern Canada plenty of time to plan a visit.

Parks Canada National Historic Sites will stage their annual re-enactments and encampments, but during these commemoration years they will be more spectacular than usual. In addition, there will be firework spectacles, tall-ships, military parades, historic walking tours, RCMP musical rides, period lifestyle demonstrations in historic buildings and concerts of period and modern music (Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture is sure to be heard, in spite of the fact that it celebrated a different war).

War was declared by the United States on 18 June 1812 and from 15-18 June the Niagara region will launch its commemoration years with a re-enactment of that event. Although an important location that witnessed many major events in this War, the Niagara region is not the only place where the War will be marked. Other communities in Southern Ontario – Windsor and Amhurstburg, Chatham Kent, London, Penetanguishene and Kingston – as well as sites in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and, of course, the United States were part of the theatre of this war. All are welcoming communities ideal for a summer getaway.

In addition to the events at actual historic sites, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa will mark the bicentennial with one of the largest and most innovative exhibitions is has ever staged. 1812 will weave together multiple perspectives of the conflict from the point of view of the four central ‘players’ in the conflict: Canada, Britain, the First Peoples and the United States. The exhibition will feature over 150 artifacts, including the tunic worn by Sir Isaac Brock, “The Hero of Upper Canada”, when he was fatally shot during the Battle of Queenston Heights.

In a lighter vein, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival – located in Stratford, Ontario – will be presenting a section of Michael Hollingsworth’s multi-part play-cycle covering Canadian history known as The History of the Village of Small Huts. The section relevant to this commemoration is simply called The War of 1812. It will be staged in a specially-designed performance space and is sure to present an irreverent look at the war as an antidote to the more accurate and serious commemorations elsewhere.

And for those who’d welcome an outdoor adventure, the war can be remembered on an eight-day Great Waterfront Trail Adventure – a fully-supported bicycle tour that covers 720 km from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Ontario/Quebec border. The tour will visit many of the arenas of the conflict as it passes through beautiful countryside and visits more than 40 Ontario communities.

This brief mention of coming highlights is designed to whet your appetites for an interesting summer getaway. There’s so much information to be found on line and a good place is start is …

Parks Canada National Historic Sites: www.pc.gc.ca and War of 1812:www.1812.gc.ca and www.eighteentwelve.ca
The Canadian War Museumwww.warmuseum.ca
Stratford Shakespeare Festivalwww.stratfordfestival.ca
Niagara Historical Society & Museum: www.niagarahistorical.museum 
The Great Waterfront Trail Adventurewww.waterfronttrail.org

… and if you would like to see and small selection of my photographs taken at various re-enactments and historic sites, click here