Bicentennial commemorations far from over NOTL committee previews 2013 events

  • Melinda Cheevers
  • |
  • Apr 12, 2013
  • Bicentennial commemorations far from over. War of 1812 Bicentennial committee members Jim Alexander (left), Rick Meleon and Tony Chisholm (right) hold up the period American flag that will fly throughout Old Town during  Niagara Under Occupation,  commemorating the six and a half months when the Town of Niagara was occupied by US troops. Melinda Cheevers/staff photo
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    Don’t let the name fool you, the War of 1812 lasted longer than just one year. In fact, battles occured throughout 1813 and 1814 as well which is why commemorative events for the bicentennial are still taking place and will continue to happen through 2014.

    On Friday, organizers behind various upcoming bicentennial events gathered at the Court House on Queen Street to give a preview of what’s to come this year.

    Signature events get underway the weekend of May 25-26 with the Battle of Fort George. Peter Martin from Parks Canada spoke about the major battle re-enactment that’s set to take place over two days in The Commons.

    “It’s so big, we have to spread it out,” he said, noting there will be between 800-1,000 re-enactors coming from all over Canada as well as parts of the United States. The re-enactment will be free to the public.

    Fort George will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  both days with regular admission rates applying. There will be demonstrations and activities happening throughout the day, Martin said.

    On May 25, following the battle there will be an evening show starting at 8 p.m. called “The Bombardment of Fort George.” It will feature an artillery barrage, pyrotechnics, and fireworks set to music. Tickets will be on sale at the fort for the show.

    On May 27, the exact 200th anniversary of the battle, there will be a special memorial service held to remember the fallen.

    The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee spoke of the various events and programs they are organizing for the year. Volunteers will continue to dress in period outfits and walk through Old Town, offering information and tours to visitors. That will be heightened from June through September for Niagara Under Occupation, which commemorates the occupation of the Town of Niagara by American troops for a six and a half month period. A period American flag, featuring 15 stars and 15 stripes, will fly over Old Town. American and New York State Militia soldiers will patrol the main street.

    “People will get the chance to see what it would have been like living during that time,” explained committee member Rick Meleon.

    The committee also has its golf tournament coming up on May 26. The tournament is a fundraiser for the committee and will be held at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Course. Spots are still available and can be reserved by calling 905-468-5533.

    In June, the attention will shift to Queenston for the 200th anniversary of Laura Secord’s famous trek from her homestead to the DeCew House in Thorold. Friends of Laura Secord president Caroline McCormick invited people to commemorate the trek by participating in a walk along the Laura Secord Legacy Trail set to be held on June 22. The trail has been divided into five stages so people can walk the entire distance or a shorter route to suit their ability level. Other events planned for the commemorative weekend, set to take place June 21-23 include a production of a Laura Secord opera by Music Niagara, and a special dinner event. People can sign up now for the event at http://www.friendsoflaurasecord.com.

    Committee fundraising chair Tony Chisholm said the community has been fantastic in showing support for the events. Through the Defender of the Town program, businesses and individuals have been able to contribute funds toward the various events which has gone a long way, he said, especially since many programs were not given government funding.

    “It was never a question of whether we’d be doing these events,” he said. “It was just a matter of the scale they’d play out on.”

    Chisholm said the committee is still working on funding for some of the programming planned to happen throughout 2013 and 2014.

     

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