After walking along the lakeshore (see Part 1) I arrived at Old Fort York, with no expectations beyond exploring the site and its exhibits. I hadn’t visited since an elementary school sleepover there in the mid-1980s. Happily, it was Battle of York Weekend, the annual event commemorating that battle, so there was a lot to see.
This is the site, nestled among Toronto’s mushrooming condominiums and the Gardiner Expressway:
This was my first clue that something was up:
I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Star-Spangled Banner flown before, with its 15 stars and 15 stripes. And there wasn’t a redcoat in sight; this was a commemoration of the US occupation of York in April 1813.
Next time I’m photographing the use of long guns, I’ll remember to stay on their right side. All my pictures show the soldier’s backs, as they’re twisted away to fire from the right shoulder.
After the demonstration of musketry, I spoke with the two participants in blue coats here:
The one on the right was outfitted as a pioneer, with axe, saw, and faschine knife. From them, I learned about the reënactments that happen around the region over the summer. I was surprised that there is a reënactment of the Battle of Culloden in Ontario. Disappointingly, I was not allowed to handle a musket, even to gauge its weight, owing to the limitations of their insurance policies.
I call this image “The Littlest Marauder”:
This is an image of Douglas Coupland’s sculpture, near Fort York, entitled “Monument to the War of 1812”:
In an editorial dated November 5, 2008, The Globe and Mail said Coupland’s piece “makes vividly the point that the British and Canadians won the three-year war against American aggressors –thereby escaping annexation– yet does so with humour and good grace.” I aspire to achieve that humour and good grace in this blog, though I court the danger of sliding into the glib or merely clever!
Coupland’s work is also the perfect segue to Part 3 of this post, wherein I describe my first effort at wargaming, courtesy of the good people at the Napoleonic Miniatures Wargame Society of Toronto… coming soon.