Raids on Talbot Settlement brought back to life
- From the St Thomas Times Journal
Thomas Hurlbut drove three hours Friday to turn back the pages of
history nearly 200 years.
Easily visible on the field of battle behind Backus-Page House Museum,
the Orillia, Ont., resident was a prominent force during the War of
1812 re-enactment which delighted more than a thousand visitors over
the three-day program.
Hosted by the Tyrconnell Heritage Society, the Raids on the Talbot
Settlement melded military maneuvers with artillery demonstrations,
period craftsmen demonstrating traditional skills, sutlers presenting
their wares for sale, fashion shows and interactive displays.
Front and centre was the crack of rifle fire and the smoky roar of
cannons as more than 200 colourfully uniformed volunteers journeyed
back in time to the War of 1812 when American raiding parties played
havoc with Talbot settlers.
"Plundering by the Americans was common," explained society president
Leta West. "So many of the men had to go and be part of the British
militia. So oftentimes the women and children were left to look after
the homestead. They were always under duress because they never knew
when the Americans may come."
Saturday afternoon, members of one Talbot Settlement family scurried
to safety as an American raiding party descended on their homestead.
In his role as the American general leading the raiding party, Hurlbut
confessed he was surprised to meet British resistance on this occasion.
"We were told there were no redcoats in this area at all. The frontier
was pretty much open to us," explained Hurlbut.
After successfully repelling the British troops who were supported by
a native contingent, Hurlbut noted his intentions were strictly noble
"We came in to destroy military stores. Private property is
sacrosanct. But we found some military stores in a building and they
had to be destroyed. And as it turns out there was a sizeable British
presence in the area and we tried to chase them back to England so
that Canada could be free like the United States."
Hurlbut, who during the week is employed in a more mundane setting as
a stationary engineer, says he has always been a fan of history and
that led to his love affair with re-enactments.
"This is a particular time period that I have some affection for. I
joined the Royal Newfoundland Regiment out of Penetanguishene (Ontario)."
He later formed his own group of American regular infantry, the 25th
Infantry Regiment, and participates in up to a dozen re-enactments
"Other people go home and mow their lawn. My house is falling down but
instead I'm here pretending to be someone from a couple of hundred