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
"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
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
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.
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