Relative strives to keep Brock’s legacy alive with matching statues

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KIM MACKRAEL

The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Jun. 26 2012

A distant relative of Major-General Isaac Brock says he plans to commission identical statues of the famed British military commander in Toronto and Guernsey, the Channel Island where Brock grew up.

Oliver Brock, who is the commander’s first cousin, six times removed, was in Canada this week to promote his plan to honour the major-general during the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812.

Brock was well-regarded for his skill at taking strategic risks on the battlefield, and is often praised as “the hero of Upper Canada.”

He died on Oct. 13, 1812, while leading his troops in an attack against advancing Americans at Queenston Heights – where a large monument now stands in his honour. Brock University, in St. Catharines, is named after him, as are several Ontario high schools.

As the officer’s closest surviving relative, Mr. Brock said he feels an obligation to keep his legacy alive.

He’s launching a charitable organization in Guernsey to raise money for the two statues and other anniversary celebrations, which he hopes will remind people of the commander’s sacrifices.

“There is nothing more relevant, now, than having a soldier travel thousands of miles away from his homeland to fight a war on behalf of people he doesn’t know,” Mr. Brock said.

While in Canada, Mr. Brock said he met with First Nations leaders at Tyendinaga and on Walpole Island, where he visited Tecumseh’s grave site. The Shawnee chief was a key ally who fought alongside Brock during the War of 1812.

Mr. Brock, who is an architect in Guernsey, said he’s long held an interest in his family’s legacy in Canada.

But as the anniversary of the war approached, he said he wanted to do more to celebrate his contribution.

“There’s an immense level of pride in [Canada] for what happened 200 years ago across the country, and an immense amount of respect for my ancestors,” he said.

“I felt that in Guernsey we needed to be respecting that back … rather than letting [the anniversary] fly by.”

The Guernsey statue will stand in a central square, but no location has been chosen for the Toronto statue, he said.

He’s working with Canadian sculptor Adrienne Alison, who has already made a maquette of the statues.

She said they will be crafted out of bronze and stand about the same height as the general, who was 6-foot-3.

“He was an amazing strategist and did a lot with very little,” she said.

“Brock was the one true hero that came out of that war.”

Mr. Brock said he’s also designed a commemorative coin featuring the major-general, which he plans to sell to raise money for the statues and other projects to honour his ancestor in Guernsey and Canada.

  • The Globe and Mail
    Units of the Upper Canada Military Re-enactment Society fall in under the direction of Sgt. Major Steve Hartwick before morning drill. Re-enactors from various regiments of the Crown Forces of Upper Canada participated in a two-day re-enactment of The Battle of Stoney Creek on June 1-June 3, 2012.
    (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
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        An officer inspects the ranks before a session of morning drill.
        (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
        • The Globe and Mail
          Jim Wellheiser is dressed as Maj. John Norton, a Chief of the Iroquois Six Nations who played a key role in several battles during the War of 1812. Beside him, in green, is Roy Winders, dressed as Col. Matthew Elliott of the British Indian Department.
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          A picture of King George sits among the many period belongings waiting to be set inside an 1812-era tent.
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          Soldiers of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment(RNR) chat before falling into formation. At left is a wooden playpen, built for Genevieve Howard, 17 months, whose parents are both members of the RNR.
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          Corrin Heykoop, 12, runs toward the “action” while playing with play muskets with her siblings and friends.
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          Retired steelworker, Allen McKnight plays the role of a contract surgeon.
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          Units of the Upper Canada Military Re-enactment Society during a morning drill session.
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          Re-enactors from various regiments of the Crown Forces of Upper Canada take to the battlefield to participate in the first of three battle re-enactments.
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          A naval crew fires a cannon at the beginning of the first of three battle re-enactments.
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          Ron Zorbil, with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment laughs while chatting with fellow soldiers before a battle re-enactment.
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          Soldiers of the 1st Royal Scots Grenadiers fire their muskets at advancing American troops on the battlefield in Stoney Creek, Ontario.
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