This past Sunday in the Cemetery of the Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church in Richmond Hill, five Veterans of the War of 1812 were honoured.
Special plaques were installed at the gravesites of these veterans.
The Veterans honoured all answered the call to muster, were inspected with their neighbours by General Isaac Brock himself and formed into the 1st Regiment of the York Militia. This Regiment also known as the York Volunteers were with Brock at Detroit and then at the fateful day in Queenston Heights. Later they saw action at Fort Niagara, Chippewa, Lundy's Lane and Fort Erie.
The veterans honoured were:
John Arnold (1769-1855) Captain (initial Commanding Officer), and later Colonel
David Bridgeford (1791-1868) Private, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and later Captain, and Colonel
John Langstaff (1774-1865) Sergeant
James Marsh (1776-1849) Private, Sergeant, Captain
James Miles (1776-1840) Lieutenant, Captain
Prior to the attack on Fort York on April 27, 1813 most of the 1st Regiment of York militia had been been granted permission to go home to prepare for spring planting. Captain John Arnold and Sergeant David Bridgeford were noted at the attack on Fort York on April 27th 1813. Arnold was taken as a prisoner of war and later exchanged and Bridgeford as part of the retreat detail for the destruction of the magazine was knocked unconscious by the blast and later revived.
The unveiling ceremonies took place on a beautiful but chilly day. A biographies of each veteran was read out and a special dignitary said a few words and then unveiled each plaque to a musket salute. Light refreshments followed.
For John Arnold, the biography was read by Larry Hanna, Upper Canada Militia re-enactor and the unveiling was by the Honourable Costas Menegakis, Member of Parliament for Richmond Hill.
For James Marsh, the biography was read by Paul Kelly, Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada re-enactor and the unveiling was by Mr. Reza Moridi, Member of Provincial Parliament for Richmond Hill.
For John Langstaff, the biography was read by Len Heidlebrecht, York Volunteersre-enactor and the unveiling was by His Worship, Dave Barrow, Mayor of Richmond Hill.
For James Miles, the biography was read by Dale Adamson, On-gwe-ho-way Historical re-enactor and the unveiling was by the Right Rev. Duncan Jeffrey, Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church.
For David Bridgeford, the biography was read by Dinah Cruse-Hunter, 3rd Great Granddaughter of Bridgeford and the unveiling was by Right Worshipful Brother John Green, the Deputy Grand Master for Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario and Very Worshipful Brother Jeffrey Smart the current Worshipful Master of Richmond Lodge as David Bridgeford was also the 1st Worshipful Master of Richmond Lodge in 1824.
A special thanks go out for the re-enactors who set aside their time to participate in the ceremonies. The participants who signed in are from the Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada, the York Volunteers, the HMS Nancy Naval Gun Crew, and the 49th Regiment, Grenadiers. (If I missed anyone who didn't sign in, please connect with me as I would like a complete list of participants.)
A national project, spearheaded by the Historic Military Establishment of Upper Canada, that is unique in Canadian History is underway to honour veterans of the War of 1812. The Government of Canada is funding this project through the Canadian Heritage 1812 Commemoration Fund. The purpose of this project is to ensure that War of 1812 veterans are awarded the recognition that they deserve, not only in the defence of Canada, but also for their dedication in building the foundation of the Canada that we live in today.
As a War of 1812 re-enactor, it is really our responsibility to search out our local cemeteries, locate the burial sites of these veterans and organize an honouring ceremony. The ceremonies can range from a couple of locals to whatever you can imagine and organize.
For more info on the program or vets already identified and honoured, go to 1812veterans.ca
Your humble and obedient servant .