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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Heritage Day Commemorates War of 1812-14 Bi-Centennial

The Bi-Centennial of the War of 1812-14 is quickly coming upon us.  June is the official start of the 200 years of peace that we are commemorating.  And yes, the commemorations will continue until 2014!  Most of us do not know what the significance of this event means.  I admit, I didn’t either.  But I have been slowly piecing information together, learning from historians, educators and colleagues.  This event was ultimately what has made us Canadians.  It is a big deal!

Imagine what Burlington looked like.  It was 1812!  It did not look anything like it does today, and in fact it was not even called Burlington, at the time.   It was, and is still known as a safe place, a place of trade, a cross roads, a landmark, a resting point and a refuge - a destination for food, shelter, and shared resources.
There were many nations involved in this War.  First Nations peoples, British, Americans, Loyalists and locals were called to duty. This War played a significant role in the shaping of Canada, the United States of America, and Six Nations, and their peoples.  The end of the war marked the beginning of 200 years of peace between our nations.
One of the upcoming events, where you can learn more about how we are Canadians, this War’s events, the people of this location and period of time, is the Burlington Heritage Day event, being held at the Burlington Public Library on Saturday February 4th, 2012.  The theme this year is the War of 1812. 
The day’s seminars include:
·         “War of 1812 and the Six Nations” Zig Misiak, Historical Re-enactor, Native Studies Curriculum Developer
·          “Burlington Connections to the War of 1812-14” Daphne Smith, Museums of Burlington
·          “The Brants in Burlington” Jane Irwin, Burlington Historian
·          “2nd Regiment of the York Militia; researching the men of the Burlington area” Fred Blair, OGS
·         “Everyday life in 1812: medicine, clothing, values” Jim Taggart, Re-enactor

Also at the event, will be a number of interactive displays, educators, historians, volunteers, re-enactors and citizens who are looking to tell Burlington’s story.  They have much to tell!    Admission is free and you’ll learn some interesting stories, just like I have.  Burlington was not the site of large battles, but the War was fought here, just like in many other small towns, farm fields and homes nearby.
Other events, like the Burlington Historical Society - Speaker Series will take place in 2012.  The Burlington Historical Society will commemorate with a 2012 Program that started on January 9, 2012. Zig Misiak was the first speaker in this series.  Zig spoke on "The War of 1812 and the Six Nations."  The speaker Series takes place at the Burlington Central Library. 
Speaker Series:
February 13, 2012: Ruby and Thomas McQueston- Mary Anderson
March 12, 2012: The Burlington Races - Prof. Tom Malcomson
April 9, 2012: William Halton and Halton County - John McDonald
May 14, 2012: The War of 1812

The Burlington Central Library, is also Screening the documentary film: The War of 1812. This PBS documentary explains the roots of the War and its major campaigns and battles Wed Feb 22, 7 pm.

You can learn more about the significant role that the area now known as Burlington, and its local peoples played, by visiting Burlington’s Joseph Brant Museum. Enjoy a tour of the Museum, where you can learn about Joseph Brant, father of John Brant (Ahyouwaighs) who distinguished himself in War of 1812-14 by supporting the British throughout the War of 1812 by participating in the Battle of Queenston Heights and encouraging other members of the Six Nations from along the Grand River to fight the American invaders.  Located on the Burlington’s waterfront, this museum ‘s location is significant as the site where many nations of peoples gathered and met and it is also recognized as a crossroads of traveled routes, by water and land.

And for those planning ahead, Joseph Brant Museum will be honouring John Brant on Monday August 6, 2012, at the annual Joseph Brant Day Festival an annual event held each Labour day Monday at LaSalle Park, Burlington.  If you are interesting in learning more about the War of 1812-14 and looking for an interactive family fun day, add this date to your calendar. 

Did you know that there are many stories, myths and legends mixed in with history as we know it?  For example, there is much controversy about the “Burlington Races”.  The Burlington Races Revisited; A Revised Analysis of an 1813 Naval Battle for Supremacy on Lake Ontario by Robert J. Williamson.  This is a legend, although based on naval facts, and is quite a story!

And, did you know that the Red Geranium will be recognized as the official flower for the Commemoration of War 1812-14?  Wouldn’t it be spectacular to see all of Burlington in Red Geraniums next spring??  Plant your Red Geraniums to commemorate the War of 1812.
Heritage sites, academic, cultural, tourism and community groups from across this geographic territory have been working collaboratively to prepare for this event.  A number of events and initiatives are occurring in 2012-2014 to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812-14.  Watch for more events and information on the Tourism Burlington and the Western Corridor 1812 websites. 

So…you can choose to be an observer, by attending events and learning from the experiences coming up over the next few years, or you can be a participant by getting involved, seeking out sites, plaques, stories from your family’s history or even by promoting the learning of our Canadian History in kids, with your families. 

This commemoration is about being Canadian.  It is about our multi-culturalism and celebrating diversity.  It is about building and celebrating those pathways to peace. 

How will you commemorate War 1812-14?

TourBurl Simone

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