More War of 1812 bicentennial events to come to Windsor-Essex

The Windsor Star

October 5, 2012.

More War of 1812 bicentennial events to come to Windsor-Essex
A period group dressed as soldiers from the 1812 era march in the heritage parade at the Roots to Boots Festival celebrating the bi centennial of the war of 1812, in Amherstburg, Ont., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. (DAX MELMER/The Windsor Star)

Posted by:
Monica Wolfson

The celebrations marking the War of 1812 bicentennial between Canada and the United States continue next year with big festivities marking the Battle of Lake Erie and the Battle of the Thames.

According to records, 1813 was a bad year for the British. They lost Fort Detroit, were chased out of southern Ontario to Burlington, York and Niagara were burned, the naval fleet was lost on Lake Erie and an important First Nations leader was slain. Those events will be relived at a multitude of commemorative ceremonies in towns west of Toronto.

After York and Niagara burned in the spring of 1813, the American naval fleet crushed the British on Sept. 10, 1813 during the Battle of Lake Erie. The British lost control of the Great Lake and were cut off from their supply route. That forced Canadian and British troops and fleeing civilians at Fort Malden to begin retreating along the Thames River toward Burlington.

On Oct. 5, 1813, the American army caught up with the British and First Nations warriors two kilometres east of Thamesville. The British were defeated and fled to Burlington, while First Nations soldiers continued to fight, giving the British time to get away. First Nations leader Tecumseh was killed during the battle.

Fort Malden employees are planning a nine-day, 145 kilometre march to the Battle of the Thames site prior to the start of the Oct. 4 bash.

Walkers will retrace the steps taken by fleeing troops and stay overnight in the same locations. The event is still in the planning stages, but so far it’s estimated there will be four or five hours of walking a day with a break in the afternoon for visits with students for education sessions. There will be campouts in Sandwich, Tecumseh, Belle River and Chatham. Planners are using historical military journals to retrace the route accurately.

There will be a big celebration Oct. 4 -5, 2013 to mark the historic Battle of the Thames at the battle site. Organizers partnered with First Nations communities from Walpole and Delaware to plan activities that will include a battle  re-enactment involving a calvary from Kentucky. There will also be a canoe flotilla down the Thames River from Chatham to the battle site that organizers hope will attract hundreds of canoeists, said David Wesley, project manager for the Battle of the Thames.

Wesley said the commemoration event will revolve around Tecumseh and his principles. The drama festival, concerts, plays and story telling will be coordinated with the theme for what Tecumseh stood for: he united First Nations people to fight with the British to stop American western expansion and establish a separate nation for First Nations people. While the war ended in a stalemate between the British and Americans, the First Nations people lost.

“That’s the tragedy of the war,” Wesley said. “The things Tecumseh stood and fought for are still part of life today.”

Earlier in the summer on Labour Day weekend, Lake Erie communities in conjunction with Put-in-Bay, Ohio will host days of activities to mark the Battle of Lake Erie. About 18 Tall Ships will visit the region with several staying in Amherstburg, Kingsville and Leamington.

On Labour Day, there will be a naval recreation of the battle on the U.S.-side of the lake. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said planning is underway for the Labour Day weekend that will have a maritime festival theme.

The town of Essex is planning festivities in mid-July at its Colchester Marina except it hasn’t received funding from the federal government yet to solidify its plans, said Laurie Brett, the town’s communications manager.

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