War of 1812 theme chosen for 10th annual event


By Heather Ibbotson, Brantford Expositor

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Historical interpreters costumed for the War of 1812 era welcomed visitors at sites across Brantford and Brant County on Saturday.

At D’Aubigny Creek Park, in southwest Brantford, re-enactor Sue Draper told visitors how a band of American raiders were foiled in their attempt to cross the Grand River when members of the D’Aubigny family pulled their makeshift ferry across the river, thereby stranding the U.S. forces on the other side.

In Burford, a nattily attired Brian Moore led history seekers on a guided tour of portions of the pioneer cemetery, founded in 1800, and shared stories of 1812-era notables such as surveyor Lewis Burwell. He also described what is known about the layout of the settlement in its earliest years in relation to present-day landmarks.

These were just two of about a dozen area sites where historical tales were told as part of the 10th annual Doors Open Brant event.

This year’s War of 1812 theme was chosen in commemoration of the bicentennial of that historical conflict.

“A lot of people don’t realize the War of 1812 was where our country was born,” Draper said.

She and her husband, Tracy Macdonnell, belong to an 1812-era re-enacting group based out of Toronto, members of which enjoy re-creating and depicting the 8th Regiment of Foot. That regiment was a British unit first sent to North America during the Revolutionary War and which later returned to Canada during the War of 1812, Draper said.

As a long-time re-enactment fan, Draper said she enjoys the Canadian content of the 1812 era.

It’s also a little less primitive than Revolutionary War re-enactment and not quite as physically restricting as Civil War scenarios. Dressing for 1812, “the waistlines are higher and the corsets aren’t boned,” she said.

Along with cemetery tours in Burford and Mount Pleasant, Doors Open Brant offered free admission to museums in Brantford, Harley and Ohsweken, and to the branch library of the Brant County branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

On Saturday, the branch welcomed 55 visitors to its library and archives located at Smokey Hollow Estates, on Powerline Road northeast of Brantford.

Many were seeking information on specific area families, while others were interested in learning more about the history of Brantford. One visitor hoped to learn how to trace the history of a house.

“There was quite a variety of interests and our volunteers were busy,” said Marilyn Cross, co-chair of the Brant County branch of OGS.

“Some people didn’t know we were here” and were excited to discover the extent of the collection of genealogical material on hand, she said.

“It was great for us to get the exposure,” Cross said.

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