THOROLD – It was 200 years ago this coming weekend that one of the most significant events in Canadian history took place in Niagara.
On June 22, 1813, Canada’s most beloved heroine, Laura Secord, began her famous trek from present-day Queenston to the DeCew House in Thorold, where it has been said she warned British Lieutenant James FitzGibbon of an impending American attack.
On June 24, a small band of British regulars and a large force of native allies fought and won the vicious, three-hour running battle with the Americans – known today as the Battle of Beaverdams.
Now, two centuries later, the public is invited to come savour the sights and sounds of this pivotal point in Canadian history.
In commemoration of the War of 1812 bicentennial anniversary and the Battle of Beaverdams, several events will be happening in Thorold throughout the weekend.
“It will be the climax of many months of planning,” said John Burtniak, president of Thorold’s War of 1812 committee. “There’s a variety of exciting things going on and we’re looking forward to a good turnout and lots of fun.”
Historic site tours and re-enactors camps featuring spokesmen from the two Haudenosaunee groups who fought in the battle – the Six Nations and the Kanawake – are taking place all day on Saturday, June 22 at the DeCew House Park in Thorold.
A provincial town crier competition will then kick off the scheduled events at 10 a.m., followed by performances from the Thorold Reed Band and Thorold Pipe Band. A second town crier competition will commence at 1:30 p.m.
The official welcoming ceremonies take place Saturday at 3 p.m., also at the DeCew House Park.
The Laura Secord Walk will wind its way from Queenston and all points in between Saturday as well, as groups of walkers arrive at the DeCew House throughout the day. Anyone can join in on the walk as it takes place, with key starting points set up at the Laura Secord homestead in Queenston, Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, and Rotary Park on Pelham Rd. in St. Catharines.
The Thorold Library, 14 Ormond St. South, will feature the 18-minute Battle of Beaverdams film, ‘The Battle of Beaverdams: Uncommon Courage’, on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A pancake breakfast will be served at the DeCew House on Sunday, June 23, followed by a faith service, an English country dancing demonstration, and music from the Lincoln and Welland Regimental Band. The day will culminate in a dedication of the Battlefield Memorial Site, featuring a reconciliation ceremony between the Six Nations and Kanawake representatives.
On both days, there will be three screenings of ‘The Whirlwind’ – a play about the Battle of Beaverdams – at Thorold’s Trinity United Church, 15 Pine St. South.
Visitors can park free all weekend at Niagara Region headquarters, 2201 St. David’s Rd., with free shuttles departing every five minutes, headed for Decew House Heritage Park.
Narrated bus tours will escort riders to heritage landmark sites in Thorold, such as the historic Beaverdams Church, Welland Mills, the Keefer Mansion, the Battlefield Memorial Site, and the downtown core for events hosted by the Thorold BIA.
WAR OF 1812 ROAD CLOSURES
There will be several road closures in Thorold this weekend to accommodate War of 1812 Bicentennial events.
On Saturday, June 22 and Sunday June 23, DeCew Rd. from Merrittville Hwy. to Cataract Rd. will be closed starting at 7 a.m. both days for the city’s Battle of Beaverdams celebrations.
Davis Rd., east of the Thorold Tunnel between Old Thorold Stone Rd. and Hwy. 58, will also be closed on Sunday, June 23 from 3 to 6 p.m.
Bicentennial participants can access DeCew House Park, Front St. and downtown Thorold by using a free shuttle service running both days from the Niagara Region Headquarters, where free parking is also available.
Alternate arrangements for emergency services for residents and participants are in place.