Port of Amherstburg: New, fresh

Windsor Star

Karen Paton-Evans Jul 03, 2013

The success of Amherstburg’s Roots to Boots Festival last summer commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 would be hard to beat. However, with Coastal Trails Sails to See, the town is embracing fresh opportunity to delight and impress visitors. “We wanted to make the weekend different from the bicentennial,” says Anne Rota, facilitator in Amherstburg’s Tourism and Special Events office. Speaking highly of collaborative efforts with the ports of Windsor, Kingsville and Pelee Island, she notes, “We came together as a region and put our best foot forward to make each port’s program different and inviting for the visitor.”

As the days count down to the festival, excitement is mounting. “We’re welcoming our American friends; the crew, to rest and give tours of their tall ships,” Rota says. “We hope people will visit all four ports, if possible.”

Coastal Trails Sails to See continues the saga of the War of 1812, experienced by present day people through bicentennial commemorative events and presentations held throughout Canada and the U.S. Interest in the history is keen: 40,000 visitors flocked to Amherstburg’s four-day Roots to Boots festival last year. There, visitors got a taste of 1812-style warships when a tall ship docked at the King’s Navy Yard Park.

Now tall ships will be sailing Lake Erie once more, their rigs and crewmen all authentic to 1812.

“It’s very appropriate for the Port of Amherstburg that two historically correct ships are docking in Kings Navy Yard Park” Rota notes. “We feel many ships will sail by that weekend. We’re the last stop before they go to Put-in-Bay for the Battle of Lake Erie re-enactment. It really is a “once-in-alifetime” experience to have that many tall ships docked in our region.”

Two ships – the Lynx and the Friends Goodwill – will dock at the Port of Amherstburg. Visitors can tour the two vessels for just $5. Or they can opt for the $15 boarding pass for access to all of the ships in the Ports of Windsor, Kingsville, Pelee Island and Amherstburg.

Amherstburg’s festivities begin Friday, Aug. 30 at 11 a.m. with the town crier’s official welcome to the ships’ captains and crew. Then, from noon to 5 p.m., visitors will board and tour the decks. On shore, Art at the Gazebo will feature artists and their works, and Redpath Sugar’s Acts of Sweetness truck will distribute treats. In the evening, a re-enactor portraying Laura Secord tells her tale and Matthew Drouillard shares what his life is like as an 1812 soldier.

As the stars come out at 8:30 p.m., everyone can gather outside to watch Pirates of the Caribbean on a big screen.

Deck tours continue on the weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday’s entertainment includes the Windsor Family Credit Union’s Little Mates children’s pavilion with costumed characters, crafts and more. The King’s Navy Yard will be abuzz with live stage performances, Masquerade strolling a cappella group and Kenneth Macleod and the Windsor Salt Band.

Also Saturday at 8:30 p.m., Amherstburg is showing The Flames of War Epic film. It originated in Niagara to commemorate the war’s bicentennial and is now on tour.

The side of the Salmoni Building, near the fountain downtown, will serve as a 70-ft. big screen.

Funded by Heritage Canada, the movie is “all about how the war started. It has amazing graphics. We’re really excited we were able to sign off and bring this to Amherstburg,” Rota says.

Sunday morning reveals the more civilized side of war with the re-enactment of the Ladies of Amherstburg and The Women’s March for peace, progress and societal advancement for the betterment of humankind.

The noon gun will be red in the King’s Navy Yard Park, followed by performances from the Greater Windsor Concert Band and Masquerade. Another concert will play late afternoon. Sculptor/artist Mark Williams will be on site working on the sculptures for the second phase of the Battle of Lake Erie monument. Thrilled to host the tall ships, Amherstburg will hold a non-denominational service Monday at 10 a.m., blessing the ships before they sail to their destiny in the Battle of Lake Erie re-enactment.

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