Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day Weekend

Today was taken up by a visit to Ormstown Fair (the centennial edition), which was fun, involving pony rides, demolition derbies (or cars fighting, as the lil'un called it), and 100 pipers.

The reason I mention it here, is that the fair takes place next to the battlefield for the Battle of Chateauguay. Thereby leading to the continuation of my unintended treks around the battlefields of the War of 1812.  Indeed, the two battles themselves were fought in close succession (in the reverso order of my visits though!). Not really a surprise that the two were linked, and so close geographically, as the intended outcome of the St Lawrence Campaign by the Americans was to capture Montreal. This was indeed the closest battle to Montreal that was fought during the war, so indeed it is more surprising that we had not been there before.

The battlefield itself is just a large flat field now, but there is a visitor centre (we didn't go in). I did however, purchase for myself a little father's day pressie, in the form of a booklet by the Chateauguay Historical Society, which seems to cover the whole campaign in some detail. It is titled 'A Young Person's Introduction to the Chateauguay Valley" but that seems to be mainly because it was originally produced as an educationally booklet for schools. In my opinion, the secondary title is enough. it is a 32 page bookelt, with no space wasted, including a rather full intro to the whole St Lawrence campaign, including the background, geography, and all the major players. The maps and artwork seems to be rather out of focus, and hasn't been well reproduced, but since there is a web site reference for all the art, there should be no trouble finding the originals. I look forward to delving in in more detail.

There were two other points to note, that I think are relevant. First off, the pipes and drums of the Canadian Black Watch were amongst the 100 pipers who played today, and they were supposedly at the battle, as the 5th Battalion of the Select Embodied Militia (50 of whom were at the battle). Secondly, to drive to the fair, we passed through the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk reserve (the first time we had done so since coming to Canada. This in itself would make an interesting post, but we'll leave the politics of the First Nations aside for now), again, there were 150 Mohawks and others present on the field at Chatueauguay.

I really should get round to doing some proper 1812 gaming. It really should be easier to find people to play with for such a local historical period. Who says the New World doesn't have any history?

In addition to the wikipedia site above, there's a rather neat little breakdown of the battle here.

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