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Re: Globe & Mail Article about Cancelled Plains of Abraham Event & Re-Enacting

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  • whittakermp
    ... ...Now, all we have to do is convince Brown that there is something called the War of 1812 Bicentennial... Given how much mention was given in Brown s
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 7, 2009
      --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, Ray Hobbs <ray.hobbs@...> wrote:
      ...Now, all we have to do is convince Brown that there is something called the War of 1812 Bicentennial...


      Given how much mention was given in Brown's article to Founder's Day Weekend (on which part of the article was based)sponsored by the Fort La Présentation, he's likely to cover Fort Erie from Fort York and give no credit to the organizers.

      Did anyone see Peter Rakabowchuk's Canadian Press article on the Old Fort Niagara 250th event? Much better, in my entirely biased opinion.

      Michael Whittaker
    • Ian Gardner
      Another take on the Plains of Abraham in the latest issue of Walrus Magazine http://tinyurl.com/qog4ym Ian ... From: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 11, 2009
        Another take on the Plains of Abraham in the latest issue of Walrus
        Magazine

        http://tinyurl.com/qog4ym

        Ian

        -----Original Message-----
        From: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com [mailto:WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com] On
        Behalf Of Ray Hobbs
        Sent: August 6, 2009 5:04 PM
        To: warof1812@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: RE: 1812 Globe & Mail Article about Cancelled Plains of Abraham
        Event & Re-Enacting


        Tom:
        Thanks for this.
        I read this piece earlier, and judge it to be an excellent essay from an
        "outsider". Brown is a respected commentator and documentary film
        presenter (View from Here on TVO). Des Morton's comments about
        reenactors were disingenuous. Pity.
        Now, all we have to do is convince Brown that there is something called
        the War of 1812 Bicentennial :-) I think he might look good in a 41st
        uniform, hey what!
        See many of you Friday at Erie.
        Ray Hobbs
        AdC to Col. Williams

        To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
        From: tom4141fournier@...
        Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 20:51:45 +0000
        Subject: 1812 Globe & Mail Article about Cancelled Plains of Abraham
        Event & Re-Enacting





















        http://tinyurl.com/nzfpem



        Quite an article/feature in the Globe & Mail (considered by some to be
        Canada's national newspaper) around the cancelled event in Quebec City
        and re-enacting in general.



        Follow the link above or I have also pasted the test below my signature.



        Warning - fairly lengthy!



        Tom Fournier



        **************************************



        Globe Focus



        In Wolfe's Clothing



        Ian Brown



        Quebec City — From Saturday's Globe and Mail

        Last updated on Wednesday, Aug. 05, 2009 03:57AM EDT





        .This is what I discovered about putting on a historically accurate,
        18th-century British officer's uniform and standing on the Plains of
        Abraham in Quebec City pretending I was General James Wolfe: I might
        have looked like an overgrown lunatic playing dress-up, but when I
        actually slipped the coat and hat on, it felt surprisingly grave. It
        made me want to be serious.



        If events had turned out the way a lot of people wanted, I might not
        have been alone.



        Had things gone another way, several thousand men and women dressed as
        18th-century French and British soldiers would be re-enacting the battle
        of the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City this weekend, to commemorate the
        250th anniversary of the short-lived skirmish that's conventionally
        remembered as having transformed New France into an English colony,
        establishing the future character of Canada.



        It would have been the first time the country's most historic battle had
        been restaged on the very spot where the original took place.



        The boom of cannons besieging Quebec would be filling the air. The
        plains would be thick with musket smoke from the 60,000 shots fired in
        the course of the battle.



        Three hundred thousand tourists would be spending $30-million in Quebec
        City when they weren't wandering through a copy of an 18th century
        French and English military encampment. The tourists would be asking
        questions of seamstresses and tanners and blacksmiths living in neatly
        lined up, 18th-century-style tents, cooking 18th-century-style meals in
        18th-century-replica pots over open fires started in 18th-century ways.



        The seamstresses and tanners and blacksmiths in turn would be showing
        the great curious public how cowhide windows were made or what shoes
        looked like then or how wool was woven into linen as a flame retardant,
        because a leading cause of death among 18th-century women was infection
        due to burns suffered while cooking over an open fire, and people would
        be saying, "Isn't that interesting?"



        Most of all, everyone would be intensely debating the fine points of
        what actually happened on the Plains of Abraham and how significant the
        battle was, or was not. That, after all, is what re-enactors do: They
        try to make history real.



        But none of this will happen.



        Last February, a pocket of Quebec City separatists complained that the
        re-enactment would "celebrate" the conquest of French Canada. A media
        howl ensued. Within days the event had been cancelled.



        Which is why – and this is a scoop, dear reader – two weeks ago, on a
        damp spit of green park in the sleepy town of Ogdensburg, N.Y., 275
        miles from the nearest Quebec City indépendantiste , 250 French and
        English participants secretly re-re-enacted the cancelled re-enactment.



        They pretended a line of split cedar rails were the walls of Quebec
        City. The riverside shores of upstate New York were the cliffs at Anse
        au Fulon, where General Wolfe landed his troops to surprise the French
        general, Louis-Joseph de Montcalm.



        It wasn't the same, of course. They were re-enacting history. If they'd
        been allowed to do it on the actual Plains of Abraham, they would have
        made history too. Maybe the past would have been appeased.



        II. Eight minutes to change an empire? Not exactly



        The standard take on the battle of the Plains of Abraham, as military
        historian Desmond Morton sarcastically put it, is "eight minutes to
        change an empire, to eliminate the French and bring on the English: `One
        volley, and the French dissolve – ha-ha, what do you expect?'"



        Prof. Morton (thanks in part to his mentor, the great Col. C. P.
        Steacey) was one of the first historians to challenge that cliché.



        In fact, he said: "The hidden part of the battle on the Plains was that
        it continued until dark, sustained by [French] Canadian militia and
        their native allies.



        "When Quebec sovereigntists killed plans to re-enact the battle, they
        kept that heroic story secret."



        Prof. Morton wasn't even sure the Quebec City re-enactors would have
        gotten it right. "My experience of re-enactors is that they're very
        conscientious, but they're also quite conservative."



        In this case, though, he needn't have worried: Harry Hunkin was on the
        event committee.



        A former Ontario school principal, Mr. Hunkin moved to Quebec City after
        he remarried because his second wife (22 years younger than him, and a
        federalist – a niece of the late Claude Ryan, the former Quebec Liberal
        leader) wanted to raise their daughter in French, a language Mr. Hunkin
        did not speak at the time.



        He now leads tours and teaches the British part of Quebec's history to
        aspiring tour guides. At 67, an avid re-enactor and historian, he still
        doesn't feel entirely comfortable in the city (whether because of his
        "Tarzan French" or simply because he's English, he's not sure).



        However interested you may be in the English victory on the Plains in
        1759, Mr. Hunkin will remind you the French won the rematch at Ste. Foy
        the following year (the Quebec City group was planning to re-enact that
        battle as well) – and that if French ships had arrived the following
        spring ahead of British ones, the history of Canada might have been
        different.



        He'll show you Wolfe's much-defaced monument, and then he'll show you
        Montcalm's (whose mausoleum, in classic cheeseball Quebec Catholic
        style, resembles the front end of a Cadillac Escalade). He'll take you
        to Montmorency Falls, where Wolfe's initial failure to oust the French
        inspired his bitter order to burn every farm between Quebec and
        Kamouraska.



        Wolfe's campaign intensified after that, becoming ever more quixotic.
        Montcalm might even have avoided defeat on the Plains of Abraham had he
        simply stayed inside the walls of Quebec City and waited for winter to
        drive the English away. But Montcalm had never commanded a battle on his
        own, without supervision – that's how much France cared about its colony
        – and his inexperience cost him.



        It probably didn't help that the British dropped as many as 60,000
        cannonballs and firebombs on the city in the course of two months,
        roughly a thousand a day, or more than 40 an hour, virtually razing it.



        It's a bottomless story, made more fascinating by the fact that Wolfe
        and Montcalm were equally hapless tacticians: It's a miracle either of
        them managed to win. The battle was the endpoint of a global conflict
        France and Britain had been fighting all over Europe as well as in
        Africa and India. This was history's first world war. Wolfe, at least,
        seems to have grasped that context.



        We walked over to the Plains themselves, or at least the third of the
        original farmer's field that remains today – past the place where Céline
        Dion staged a concert last spring after she complained that Paul
        McCartney (the Brit) had a bigger venue than she did, and past the spot
        where British soldiers rolled a rock to mark the spot where Wolfe
        received his fatal wound, to Wolfe's Hill.



        There, surrounded by sunbathing Quebecois and couples engaged in public
        French kissing (I saw more tonsil tennis in Quebec in two days than I
        have in 10 years in English Canada), anyone can contemplate the strip of
        path and grass where regiments of French regulars met Wolfe's famous
        thin red line – a mile long, staggered front and back, with spaces
        between each man to allow for continuous firing.



        This is where the two sides stood, 30 yards apart with muskets accurate
        to 100 yards, and, after the command "Ready, present, fire" (they didn't
        say "aim"), tried to obliterate each other, packing two balls into every
        musket charge.



        Eight hundred people died here. The re-enactors had planned a minute's
        silence at the end of the battle to commemorate the dead.



        Wolfe's Hill was where I tried on Mr. Hunkin's red and blue re-enactor's
        tunic – the uniform of the 60th Royal Americans, who were fighting with
        the British – and his tricorne hat. He told me to cock it over my left
        eye.



        I realize it sounds absurd, but I suddenly imagined I knew what it felt
        like to have a destiny. I knew how my character's "life" turned out and
        down from here, after all. The foreknowledge was sobering.



        Re-enactors admit to feeling these things all the time. They get dressed
        up in the uniform of someone who died fighting for a cause, and suddenly
        remember that life is serious, and that history isn't reversible. Those
        are easy things to forget in an age of technological ease.



        Could that be why re-enacting is booming these days? Because people long
        for some hands-on reality, and the past lets them touch it without
        apology?



        There are at least 60,000 re-enactors in North America now, and the
        number seems to be growing at a time when, with Iraq and Afghanistan,
        war has become a part of life again. An astonishing number of
        politically charged battles are regularly restaged: Catholic-killing
        Culloden in Scotland (where Wolfe fought and famously refused an order
        to execute a wounded highlander), Waterloo, D-Day (especially tank
        skirmishes), even Vietnam.



        Nor are military re-dos the only way to play the game. The Rendezvous is
        the current rage – a weekend act favoured by younger history buffs who
        practice pre-contact skills such as trapping and flint-knapping and
        tanning. In Boston, an artist named Mark Tribe has been re-enacting
        Vietnam protest speeches, using actors to portray the likes of Coretta
        King.



        But not in Quebec City.



        III. `If you tell a re-enactor that the battle will happen on the
        original place, this is what they live for'



        On Saturday morning at the top-secret re-re-enactment at Ogdensburg, the
        French and English camps were still cooking breakfast over open fires as
        Horst Dresler made his way over the battlefield with his French
        opposite, choreographing the afternoon's battle.



        He didn't need notes. Three years earlier, Mr. Dresler and the Quebec
        Historical Corps, his re-enactment group, had been asked by the federal
        national battlefield Commission to organize the replay on the Plains of
        Abraham. By last fall 2,100 re-enactors had committed from California,
        Europe, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Winnipeg, and the
        US. "The national battlefield commission loved the idea, and so did we.
        If you tell a re-enactor that the battle will happen on the original
        place, this is what they live for."



        At 57, Mr. Dresler has been re-enacting the French and Indian War, the
        War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War for nearly 40 years. He married
        American-born Deb Goodman (an intensive-care nurse when she isn't
        playing a French commander) in a fully authentic 18th-century-style
        ceremony at Louisbourg, the French redoubt on Cape Breton that the
        British conquered in 1758 as a prelude to Quebec.



        They still sleep on a replica of an 18th-century rope bed, even at home
        in Woodstock, Vt., where muskets also stand by the fireplace. Mr.
        Dresler sometimes seems to keep one part of his mind permanently back in
        the other time, observing from a distance the antics of the present. The
        Plains of Abraham project was to be the pinnacle of his career.



        But by February it was a shambles. Le Réseau de Résistance du Québécois
        (the Québécois Resistance Network), a passel of fewer than 500 hard-line
        separatists, claimed the Conquest ought not to be commemorated with "a
        celebration." Every political party in Quebec backed away from the event
        as if it had impetigo.



        Mr. Dresler's reaction: "It was a bunch of idiots using it for their own
        political purposes." You could say he's a little bitter.



        In no time, he was fielding 18 calls a day from reporters; soon after
        that, it was anonymous threats from separatists offering to "stick your
        bayonets up your asses." The battlefields commission could no longer
        guarantee the safety of the participants and the public.



        Not that Mr. Dresler was scared: Re-enactors are the jocks of the
        history set, big guys who carry bayonets and tomahawks. What surprised
        him was the level of public support for the opposition. When his Quebec
        Historical Corps had performed Revolutionary War battles on the Plains,
        restaurants had given them discounts if they ate in costume. But this
        was the Conquest.



        "There's nothing more right-wing than a separatist movement," Ms.
        Goodman said. (She has a master's degree in political science.) "To me,
        separatism is repression. Moving on is progressive. I mean, for
        instance, I'm Jewish, and Horst is German. Come on."




        "Not one of our events in five years has been called a `celebration,'"
        Mr. Dresler replied, sticking to the facts.



        "If you were set on being a separatist, why would you abandon your
        history?"



        "If you don't acknowledge history as it happened, then you have no one
        to villainize," Mr. Dresler added. "My point is that they're idiots."



        The generals were back from the reconnoitre. Camp conversations were
        bubbling everywhere, the standard, unpredictable re-enactor fare: Which
        movies were most accurate, historically ( Black Rob e wins, The Patriot
        loses). Whether Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, governor general of New
        France and commander in chief of the North American fighters in 1759,
        undermined Montcalm's chances of winning because Montcalm informed the
        French court that Vaudreuil was skimming the colony's finances (Desmond
        Morton thinks not, some re-enactors think maybe). How slippery the hills
        would have been at Anse au Foulon, where the British landed, considering
        that it was 4 a.m. and dewy and the Brits had two cannons to carry
        ("This is an 18th century shoe," Mr. Dresler said, hoisting his hoof –
        "it's not a lot of traction"). As I said, the usual.



        Another popular topic was how Tentsmiths, a well-known maker of
        historically correct canvas tents, was making a killing selling to
        "settlers," as non-soldier re-enactors refer to themselves.
        Re-enacting's an expensive hobby: a starter officer kit runs $3,000,
        which is why a lot of newbies begin as French-Canadian militia. The
        fancy marquee tent the Dreslers use when Horst plays General Wolfe (big
        enough for a double rope bed and carpets and travelling chests of
        drawers and a desk) cost $1,500. Ms. Goodman flat-out refused to say how
        much she paid for her handmade, whale-baleen stays.



        The one consolation of the cancellation was that by the time Ogdensburg
        rolled around, Mr. Dresler had been working up his Wolfe persona for
        three years. He'd lately been scouring The Life and Letters of James
        Wolfe , a biography from 1909, and was finally beginning to understand
        the whack-job British general.



        "As a commander, I would say Wolfe was stupid, but he was lucky."



        "There's speculation Wolfe committed suicide," someone said.



        "Well," someone else replied, "suicide by cop." Wolfe insisted on
        standing up directly behind his men. As short as the skirmish on the
        Plains of Abraham was, he managed to take three hits – in the wrist and
        the hip, then a double ball to the heart.



        "I wanted to incorporate how he treated his men," Mr. Dresler said. "The
        group was very divisive. He treated someone very well if the respect was
        there, but not if it wasn't."



        Ms. Goodman looked over at her husband and rolled her eyes. "I don't
        know what Wolfe was like," she said. "But sometimes he thinks he's
        Wolfe."



        That afternoon, in full Wolfean garb, Commander Horst Dresler led his
        troops toward their pretend Quebec. Albeit small and somewhat
        conceptual, the re-enactment was an accurate replay of the battle as it
        unfolded on the Plains of Abraham 250 years ago.



        The British held their fire, a long thin string of red jewels against
        the green grass. The blue-and-white French advanced too far, and paid
        for their haste. Still, the natives and Canadiens sniping on the right
        held the British back, managing three musket shots a minutes – top
        speed, back in 1759. But Wolfe had been drilling his men all summer, and
        they were faster.



        One of the native re-enactors was fighting with his 10-year-old son at
        his side: I wanted to go out with them in the long grass, and pretend to
        live or die for the country I loved. If I were a re-enactor, I suddenly
        realized, I would have to be a local Canadian milis , fighting for the
        French. It was an unexpected thought.



        Historically accurate rain began to drizzle, but the crowd stayed put.
        Then Commander Dresler assumed Wolfe's last pose, splayed like a geisha
        against a tree. Everyone watched him die. There was applause.



        IV. The making of politics, symbolism and sausage



        One night in Quebec City I hailed a cab. The driver, a Quebecker named
        Hannibal who was born in Marseille, asked me why I was there.



        "The cancelled re-enactment," I said.



        "Oh, yes, the separatists," Hannibal said. "Fuck.Why? Why separate? Look
        at this city." He gestured at the scene in the street around us –
        well-heeled couples going out to dinner, speaking French, driving
        expensive cars, shopping, prosperous. "Why?"



        "Well," I said, "a young country that needs you is always attractive.
        Especially if you're young yourself, and looking for an identity."



        "Fuck," Hannibal said again. "They have two identities already – Quebec,
        Canadian. What's wrong with them?"



        Pierre-Luc Bégin answered that question the next morning. Mr. Bégin is
        deputy director of the Réseau de Résistance du Québécois, and one of the
        people who masterminded the media campaign that kiboshed the
        re-enactment. He was a thin, pale man with a narrow face and short
        haircut parted almost in the centre – he had an old-fashioned, almost
        Victorian air.



        His objection to the re-enactment was its lack of seriousness. "First of
        all, this actually was supposed to be a celebration. Second, it was
        organized by the federal government, that clearly had a political vision
        of the thing. There was the poster with Montcalm and Wolfe shaking
        hands, with these big smiles.



        "Our objection was not that we talk about the Conquest. It was important
        to talk about it. The problem was the federal government wanted to do
        something happy – but it was a sad event."



        That, at least, was true. In Northern Armageddon , Peter MacLeod, the
        pre-Confederation historian at the Canadian War Museum, quotes literate
        Canadians of the day who felt enraged and betrayed by the 1763 Treaty of
        Paris, in which the France ceded all claim to Canada as part of an
        agreement to end the Seven Years' War. But those Canadians blamed the
        French, not the British.



        Mr. Bégin admitted that he also wanted to block the re-enactment as
        revenge for the way the federal government had "stolen" the 400th
        anniversary of Quebec last year. Stephen Harper publicly compared Samuel
        de Champlain to Governor-General Michaëlle Jean, and said they were the
        first and latest in a long line of Canadian governors.



        "They used the 400th anniversary to make politics for Canada and the
        federal option. So, many militants and French-Canadians in general said,
        `We will not let them do that again with the Conquest.'"



        The Plains of Abraham, in other words, may or may not be the site of a
        significant battle. Historians disagree. But the present-day park (a
        gift to Quebec City from the federal government and the British House of
        Commons on the city's 300th birthday in 1908) is certainly a central
        symbol of the sovereigntist cause – big, green, unavoidable and always
        there to remind everyone that this is where Wolfe beat Montcalm.



        V. `Go forth and sin against the English'



        At Ogdensburg, most of the French-speaking re-enactors were
        sovereigntists. They cared about preserving the French language and
        culture – a challenge they were addressing by showing people what French
        culture was like in the 18th century.



        In that regard "the cancelling was a catastrophe," said David Lafond, a
        Montreal civil engineer in the 2nd battalion of the Régiment du Sarre.



        "When you don't know your history, it's not important to keep it. But
        when you know it, you know how much you want to keep it," he added. Then
        he went off to be blessed by the priest, who exhorted him and his troops
        to "go forth and sin against the English."



        At the English end of the camp a guy named Bob McGowan was demonstrating
        the use of a tomahawk as a slashing tool. Mr. McGowan was dressed as an
        Abenaki Indian. He was 54 years old and made his living running robot
        cameras through pipelines. But today he was wearing a nose ring of
        18th-century Abenaki design, three earrings, tanned shin leggings and
        moccasins (which he pronounced "mucksins" to be historically correct)
        and a loincloth made from trade wool ("dries faster than the
        brain-tanned deerskin – even the natives realized that, as early as the
        1760s").



        And that was about all he was wearing: Mr. McGowan's bare behind was
        there for all to see, and tinted a coppery red. But he was a human Swiss
        Army knife as far as weapons went: 1747 Dutch flintlock rifle (80
        calibre), vicious-looking maple-burl war club, belt knife, neck knife,
        the aforementioned tomahawk.



        "I ran through that arch in the fort at Fort Carillon," Mr. McGowan
        said, to explain why he re-enacted. "That arch that Montcalm himself
        went through. And the closer I got, the more I got a feeling I'd never
        had before."



        "You'd been there before," another re-enactor said.



        "I don't like to say it like that," Mr. McGowan said, "because it sounds
        corny. But it just gets a hold of me."



        "It's like going back home," the other man said. "It's a spiritual
        feeling. It's a reincarnation. You go to a place you've never been
        before, and you feel you have."



        Which is one way of describing a sense of history.



        VI. Re-enactment and its opposite



        A quarter-million young Québécois were streaming onto the Plains of
        Abraham when Harry Hunkin dropped me off after our day of Wolfe. It was
        the eve of the feast of St. Jean Baptiste, Quebec City's biggest night
        of partying.



        Guys were lugging entire fridges' worth of beer around in their
        knapsacks. They kept stopping to open the knapsacks and count the beers,
        then reshouldering the load without taking one. So many people were
        teeming across the Plains it was hard to move.



        I made my way toward Wolfe's Hill. It was not crowded.



        In front of the bandstand where the biggest crowd gathered young men and
        women waved their fleur-de-lys flags above their heads as one, as if a
        quarter-million thought bubbles had suddenly appeared. It seemed like
        the same thought over and over again, but "it's just a celebration of
        being French-Canadian," a young woman assured me.



        It was the exact opposite of an event you would re-enact, the antidote
        to re-enactment: It was emphatically here and emphatically now.



        Ogdensburg was not like that. Thunderheads were building over the sunset
        the last night I was there, lighting the grass a bright, grave green
        among the darkening trees. You could smell wood smoke from cookfires and
        smudgepots; someone was playing a fiddle and a tambour, and a lot of
        people were singing an endless, chanty 18th-century song. Lanterns
        glowed faintly pink inside the neat, white canvas tents, looking like a
        field of pointy, luminescent brains.



        This was Horst Dresler's favourite time – at night, after the public had
        left, with everyone in period costume (except me, so I tried to stay out
        of sight). The camp was lit only by fire and it actually began to feel
        like the real 18th century.



        To my surprise, the more time I spent in the camp, the more I liked it.
        I liked the way people walked around in their fancy costumes,
        unselfconsciously debating, say, the role battlefield panic played on
        the Plains. I liked the way people said hello, no matter who you were. I
        liked that I could wander into a settler's tent-store and find a book
        called The Fighting Tomahawk: An Illustrated Guide to Using the Tomahawk
        and Long Knife as Weapons.



        The re-enactors seemed to need to be there. They loved history, but they
        needed to make it physical and accurate, even strict. There was
        something dignified and slightly resigned in this. No one ever looked
        bored.



        I met unusual people who did unusual things all over the camp. One was
        Teresa Gage. She had red hair and was 54 years old, though she looked
        younger.



        "I had a different time frame before," she said. "Norman Conquest. But
        then my sister was attending an 18th-century event, so I moved forward
        again to the 18th century. I'm getting more and more modern" She
        laughed, but added: "This is as modern as I'm going."



        Ms. Gage was an electrical engineer and made her living as a systems
        analyst at Lockheed Martin, the military contractor. She'd just finished
        a third degree in "data-technology design," something I'd never heard
        of. During her time in England studying radar systems for U.S. Air Force
        planes, "I had an opportunity to get a degree in lace-making, out of the
        city guilds of London."



        Normally that requires seven years; Ms. Gage did it in two.



        Her hand-hewn booth was filled with lace – designs and samples and
        parchment prickings covered with tiny forests of (period-accurate) brass
        pins, around which she was crossing and twisting and twisting and
        crossing linen thread (there are only two moves in lace; the hard part
        is creating a design).



        She could make an inch of lace in three hours. Her works-in-progress,
        with their pairs of Italian or English bobbins, looked so complicated
        they made me dizzy. "I do it for myself, for pleasure."



        Ms. Gage didn't want to live in the past. "I would probably not be alive
        in the 18th century as a 54-year-old woman," she said. "But the public
        needs to understand where they come from. It's a value that we ourselves
        can do things with our hands. I've always found that it's helpful to
        remember that."



        Making lace gave her a concrete sense of what she knew, of her store of
        knowledge. She had to take up computer science for her job, and worried
        the subject would be too difficult. "Oh," a friend said, "you'll have no
        problem. You make lace. It's all ones and zeroes."



        But "making lace is way more relaxing," Teresa said. "And it's something
        I wrestle with singly."



        Next she hoped to take up flint-knapping, to make stone tools and
        firearms.



        As I got up to go Ms. Gage informed me that one of the rules of
        re-enacting was that "you don't ask about peoples' personal lives. When
        they're here, you can only ask about what they're re-enacting. When
        you're here, you're a re-enactor – or a French militia man, or
        whatever." She paused. "I guess it allows you to stretch more."



        She was saying it ought to be possible to be something other than what
        modern society expected of you. The re-enactors were trying to be people
        they weren't supposed to be, whereas the people who opposed them in
        Quebec City wanted to stand guard over who they already were. It seemed
        like a significant difference.



        Ian Brown is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail.























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      • Spencer's Mercantile
        The article was interesting, but the letter from the editor (which I can t seem to find online -- perhaps someone more technically apt can help out here?) in
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 12, 2009
          The article was interesting, but the letter from the editor (which I
          can't seem to find online -- perhaps someone more technically apt can
          help out here?) in the same issue was excellent, IMHO.

          There was also a brief mention of the cancellation in this month's The
          Beaver (Canada's National History Magazine, for those not familiar with
          the publication).

          I stand by my comments in Smoke and Fire News -- now is the time to
          pounce upon the people who are just waking up to the fact the
          re-enactment exists, and to make every effort to give them a balanced,
          educated view of what we're all about. Let's not let the black eye that
          we received over the Quebec cancellation remain the lasting view of
          re-enacting in the eyes of the general public -- now's the time, when
          it's on people's radar, to get people enthralled with what we're REALLY
          all about. Like Ray says, let's get our bicentennial onto the minds and
          consciences of folks like Ian Brown and get the word (and perhaps some
          actual facts this time) out there!

          *Ahem* Now stepping off my soapbox and going back to unpacking and
          drying out from Erie . . .
          -- Sioux

          Ian Gardner wrote:

          >
          >
          > Another take on the Plains of Abraham in the latest issue of Walrus
          > Magazine
          >
          > http://tinyurl.com/qog4ym <http://tinyurl.com/qog4ym>
          >
          > Ian
          >
          >
          >
          >



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