War of 1812 exhibit at military museum

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Expositor

 

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Displays featuring weaponry, uniforms and the spartan lifestyle of soldiers during the War of 1812 are featured at a display at the Canadian Military Heritage Museum on Greenwich Street.

Tucked at the back of the museum, visitors enter a “fortification” smartly designed using weathered wooden posts discarded from a ginseng farm to find showcases filled with items that bring the long ago conflict to life.

“We wanted to make it look rustic,” said museum board chairman Rick Shaver.

Some items are reproductions, but others are genuine relics found by Shaver over the years during his explorations in the area of the 1814 battle of Malcolm’s Mills in Brant County, such as an American cutlass.

“The response has been unbelievable. We’re getting people coming from all over,” Shaver said.

The bicentennial of the War of 1812 has ramped up interest in the historical conflict and people are “starting to realize how important it was,” he said. That war was the turning point in Canada becoming Canada, he said.

Display cases feature battlefield and encampment finds, such as musket balls and a powder horn, as well as offer a glimpse of the daily life of soldiers of the time including playing cards, dice games, musical instruments and eating utensils.

Weaponry from the era include a variety of swords and cutlasses, pistols, a Brown Bess musket and a blunderbuss. Also on display are a number of reproduction uniforms of British and American military groups.

Shaver and museum board member Brian Studier spent five years planning the exhibit.

A separate section in the museum offers even more information about the war, filled with maps and documentation on the conflict.

The museum also developed a colouring and cut-out history book for kids that documents events of the War of 1812. The book is available at the museum for $5.

The War of 1812 exhibit will run for two years.

The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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