By Michelle Ruby, Brantford Expositor
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
History buffs are invited to follow Sir Isaac Brock’s own footsteps as he prepared Upper Canada for war 200 years ago.
Brock’s Walk, which includes two stops in Brant, is one of many events organized to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
In August of that year, Brock, a British army officer, received word in York (Toronto) that the American Army had advanced straight into Canadian territory near Sandwich Towne (Windsor).
Brock acted quickly, setting sail from Fort York toward Burlington Bay to begin a heroic westward journey to invade and capture Fort Detroit and the Michigan Territory, which delayed the United States from any other invasions for almost a year.
“He helped rally the troops,” said Adrienne Horne, regional project manager for the Western Corridor War of 1812 Bicentennial Alliance.
“A lot of people couldn’t decide which side to support. Brock’s walk through the countryside and the capture of Fort Detroit gave people hope that they could defend themselves against the Americans.
“This action in August made Canadians stand up and say, ‘This is worth fighting for.'”
The eight-day Brock Walk will begin at Fort York to Toronto Harbourfront on Aug. 5 when a Brock re-enactor and his entourage will set sail on a 165-foot schooner.
The journey will continue on Aug. 6 at the Brant Day Festival in LaSalle Park in Burlington.
On Aug. 7 at Dundurn National Historic Site in Hamilton, Brock meets with David Beasley, historian and descendant of a Burlington Heights landowner.
On Aug. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the tour comes to Mohawk Chapel. Visitors are invited to witness Brock’s meeting with John Norton, a Six Nations war chief who recruited hundreds of Six Nations and Delaware warriors to assist the British forces at several key battles during the war.
“Mohawk Chapel is one of the original buildings in existence during the war,” said Horne.
Eight stained glass windows at the chapel depict events from the history of the Six Nations, including the meeting of Brock, Norton and Joseph Brant.
On Aug. 9, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., join Brock at Mount Pleasant Nature Park for an 1812-themed family picnic featuring period music, re-enactors, storytelling, a barbecue and special 1812 ice cream from Hewitt’s Dairy.
The journey continues Aug. 10 at Lynnwood Park in Simcoe and Aug. 11 at harbour front in Port Dover. At 2 p.m. Brock will board the St. Lawrence II Tall Ship. There will also be community performance and parade from Powell Park to the harbour front. On Aug. 12, there will be a re-dedication of the 1812 cannon in Powell Park.
Horne said some of the areas on Brock’s Walk are often overlooked for their historical significance because they aren’t the locations of any “flashy forts or battles.”
“There were rural raids and families who gave up their sons and land. Now we are able to tell their stories.”