Joe Arnold demonstrated his blacksmith skills and provided a great deal of historic information.
photo by:Heather Krawchuk
BY HEATHER KRAWCHUK
The Niagara region had so much to be proud of this past weekend as events commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812 were held in numerous locations. One of these locations was at Decew House, where many re-enactors were available to give people a glimpse of life in the 1800’s.
From a town-crier competition to a blacksmith display and a variety of vendors, the day was packed full of history and intrigue. The location also marked the end of the Laura Secord trail. Leslie Moulson was waiting at this finish line to congratulate those who walked Laura Secord’s historic route.
“I’ve been working with Friends of Laura Secord for two years now,” said Leslie, adding, “Caroline McCormick, the head of our group, is the great, great, great granddaughter of Laura Secord.”
Leslie spoke with obvious pride about the people who worked on the Laura Secord Trail for more than three years. “We did our best to replicate the exact trail whenever possible,” she said, “We built an eco bridge and the trail goes through five municipalities.”
Leslie is excited about the release of the twenty-five cent Laura Secord coin and about the second Laura Secord stamp, both of which were released on Friday. “We are so grateful for the support and for everyone’s dedication to making this happen,” she said. For more information regarding Friends of Laura Secord, visit their website at: www.friendsoflaurasecord.com.
Dean Wilkes has been volunteering as a war re-enactor for the past five years. He said that the draw for him has always been the, “Sense of where we came from, plus the camping with guns. There are so many fun activities and a great sense of community.” Dean also enjoys the reactions that the re-enactments get from audiences.
Joe Arnold has been volunteering from more than twelve years now, many of those as a blacksmith. “The War of 1812 is a part of our history that needs to be remembered,” Joe said, adding, “A lot of Canadians don’t realize how important it was for the First Nations people to be a part of the war and the contributions that they made. Upwards of eighty First Nations people helped Laura Secord to reach her destination.”
Joe is certainly passionate about history and was one of many people on hand at Decew Park to answer questions and share his knowledge. He said, “General Brock and others just happened to be the right people at the right place at the right time. Many of the high-ranking soldiers were university-educated.”
Joe also spoke about the importance of blacksmiths during the War of 1812 and said that, “Anyone who was a captain or higher could be assumed to be a mason because that was a requirement of service.”
Amongst many of the displays and demonstrations that were set up was an entire family who attends many reenactment weekends together. “It becomes a community, we meet the same people from event to event and become close,” they said. The family sells tea and other organic items.
“Doing this helps you to appreciate what you have at home, such as cell phones and computers, but it also helps you to appreciate the simple things in life, too,” said one member of the family.
Organizers of the event should be praised for the incredible timing and planning that went into the weekend. Locations worked like well-oiled machines with shuttles arriving and departing like clockwork and volunteers on hand to provide assistance to anyone in need. Congratulations, Niagara, on an historic, successful and educational weekend.