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August 6th and 7th, 2005 - The Siege of Fort Erie

Fort Erie, Ontario

The accompanying photos are courtesy of our ever ready IMUC-cam, Richard Feltoe, Bill Longo Of the Glengarry Light Infantry, Bob Buchan of Newmarket and Debbie Brown with her roving Campfollower-cam.

Fort Erie Links:

Thanks to Dave Westhouse of the Royal Scots Grenadiers for the four image below...

In The News...

In the weekly paper 'Niagara this week' from Niagara Falls an article on the re-enactment from Fort Erie.


The article copy is as follows;

Re-creating siege almost 'magical'
Exercise brings history alive
Ryan Maloney - Aug 12, 2005

FORT ERIE -- One part historical, one part make-believe, the re-enactment of the 19th annual siege weekend at Old Fort Erie brought hundreds to the very spot where battles were waged and lives were lost almost two centuries ago.

Meant to commemorate the varied battles for control of Fort Erie between British and American forces during the War of 1812, more than 150 participants from various historical and military groups across Ontario flocked to the grounds of the Old Fort to camp through the night and battle with muskets in the day, bringing history to life.

On Sunday afternoon, visitors to the fort were treated to a re-enactment of the American "sortie" of Sept. 17, 1814, an armed attack made from a place surrounded by enemy forces wherein more than 500 men died while U.S. forces succeeded in smashing two of the British siege batteries.

The smell of gunpowder and crash of cannon blasts are music to the ears of the people who dress in Brit red or Yankee blue and fight to the 'death' for the entertainment of those checking out the free show.

"I saw a re-enactment in 2001 and I realized that anybody can be a re-enactor," said Dave Westhouse of London, a member of the First Royal Scots Grenadiers War of 1812 re-enactment group. "You don't have to be a history professor."

Westhouse, an autoworker by day, said he enjoys the thrill of not only fighting, but living without the luxuries of modern technology for a few days. When camping before a battle, participants are not allowed to use modern tools and instead cook over open fires and sleep in old-fashioned tents. Coolers to keep milk and other drinks cold are permitted but must be hidden from the viewing public.

"We're not allowed flashlights, we cook on open fires, and any modern things that are absolutely necessary are to be kept out of sight," he said.

"I just always loved the look of the British outfit, the red jackets," Westhouse said moments before heading on to the south field of the Old Fort.

Westhouse usually travels to such events with his son, but was sleeping in his tent alone last weekend, like a lonely soldier might have years ago.

"Camping, travel, and history is a great combination," he said.

Though a lot of fun, Westhouse says re-enacting can be an important task, as well.

"When you're out there, giving orders, you get this eerie feeling in the pit of your stomach," he said. "It almost brings a tear to your eye. You're out there representing somebody who actually gave their life and you have to do that respectfully."

Paul Kelly of Newmarket, secretary with the Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada re-enactment group in the Newmarket area, said re-enacting "starts as a hobby but becomes an obsession."

For 35 years, Kelly was an elementary school history teacher in York region, but there is a world of difference between reading about battles in a textbook and participating in mock combat.

"It's really about making history come alive," he explained. "It's almost magical."

Kelly thinks groups like the one he belongs to are important because it helps people recognize and remember the conflicts that helped shape the world as we know it.

"It's really a way to honour those who fought here," he said. "Otherwise this is just a nice lawn."

Kelly said that while his group was setting up camp on Friday evening, they found golf balls scattered on the once proud battlefield. Those golf balls, he explained, prove just how little respect historical sites and battlefields get these days.

"We're animating our past," he said.

This site is one of the Upper Canadian Heritage Websites. IMUC.ORG and this site are under the ownership of the Military Re-Enactment Society of Canada - The Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada (War of 1812 Re-Enactors) and all information, unless otherwise documented, is under the ownership of said group. If you wish to use any images or information on this page, please contact paulkelly@uppercanadianheritage.com and make your request. Students and non-profit organizations wishing to use the information can do so without permission provided proper credit is given to the Military Re-Enactment Society of Canada and/or IMUC.ORG.
2004 - Military Re-Enactment Society of Canada

To contact the webmaster of this site, please e-mail him at matthew@uppercanadianheritage.com
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