Fort Erie Grande Parade/Tattoo & Battle of Frenchman's Creek
- Hello Everyone,
Fort Erie's Grande Parade week-end now over was a great success.
The point of the parade, tattoo and the reenactment was a commemoration to the War and the 200 years of peace. However, there were other reasons for hosting this event in Fort Erie. Just to list a few:
1. Fort Erie due to its location and proximity to the US was a favourite crossing point and therefore not one, but many engagements were fought here, thus resulting in this location becoming the "bloodiest battle site in Canada". Imagine that, Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, our own backyard, and nobody knows this, do we as reenactors know?
2. Taking the above into account, when the war was over, what happened to our soldiers? Essentially everyone returned home and picked up where they left off. No parade, little praise by the public and less by the government. 200 years later, we though it was time to correct this.
3. Other things happened at Fort Erie during the war other than just the siege and the destruction of the Fort. Very few know that K-W-M statistics for the Battle of Frenchman's Creek (depending upon the source read) was equal or worse than the Battle of Queenston Height.
The entire Grande Parade week-end was one of the most challenging event ever held. Not just one event, but three, a Grande Parade, a Military Tattoo, and a Reenactment of the Battle of Frenchman's Creek. Sadly, there was NO support by the Provincial Government, there was minimal support from the Federal Government and many others that followed in similar lines. If it wasn't for the Town of Fort Erie itself, this event would not have happened. Oddly, it was the British and US government that offered to help, but without Canadian support, this fell by the wayside in the final month. There was a bright side in that the Department of National Defence did assign their Band of the Centre, the Lincoln and Welland Regiment and the Windsor Regiment to attend. Unfortunately, DND's assigned flag officer didn't.
General Rick Hillier (ret) was our Honourary Parade Marshall. Yes, he was a paid guest (our only one), but he outshone his role by staying for the entire week-end (he was contracted for the parade only) and brought his wife's family to boot. Imagine my surprise, when he not only agreed to conduct a review of the 1812 troops, but he shook hands and spoke with each of us individually. His speech at the Tattoo was inspiring and the attending public was pleased by this. Both the British and US embassies sent a representative, British Defence Adviser Brigadier Le Grys, and US Military Attaché Col. Paulk. Chief Brian Leforme of the New Credit First Nations also attended along with representatives of the Six Nations Confederacy and the North American Iroquois Native Warriors Association.
The pubic was extremely pleased with the entire week-end. Official counts were 17,000 attended the parade, over 5,000 at the Tattoo (standing room only) and just over 500 for the reenactment & wreath laying ceremony. The parade itself had 2,000 participating in 80 units and was 4.1 km long when fully assembled. There was a delay in the parade starting, and during that delay, the folks at the retirement home were treated to the reenactors and bands waiting in line for the parade to start. We have received such high praise by the senior residents and others of how the reenactors interacted as they pass the time. To all the units participating in the parade - Bravo - for helping to make a technical slip go unnoticed by the residents at the parade starting line.
One of the aims for the parade was to have veterans of all wars, of all nations come to the parade wearing their uniform or dedications. Many did from WWII to Afghanistan. Many attended and didn't know about wearing their medals and wish they had known. Regardless, whether or not able to wear ribbons/medals of past military experience, when General Hillier asked for all to stand who had or were still in active service to rise, we saw that a very large number 50% - 60% - 70% or more standing at the Tattoo. A very successful moment.
I would like to point out a single high point to the entire week-end, and hope it won't be lost or forgotten. In planning our parade, and especially a military parade, a colour party or a decorated pipe band is normally expected and anticipated to lead the parade. Without a decorated pipe band, a colour party would fill this role. The planned colour party a few days before the parade decided they would only join the parade in the middle of the parade and were subsequently dropped from taking this honour. In struggling to find a replacement to lead the parade, it became apparent that the parade was being bestowed an honour that had never occurred before and as such the parade was lead by North American Native Veterans carrying two Eagle Staffs.
The importance of the Eagles Staffs is that the staffs represent the same importance as we place on our flags. There were two Eagle Staffs present for this week-end, one created in respect of the Vietnam engagement and the other to Afghanistan. Each staff has a history to it of how it was created and what it signifies. On the Friday before the parade, the staffs were present at the Ridgeway cenotaph rededication ceremony and I listened as a Korean War veteran in speaking to one of the staff carrier, a Vietnam veteran, spoke of similar wartime experiences, heard as their wives share their experience of their husband's post war traumas, and then witnessed the Korean War veteran, placed his poppy on the Eagle staff.
Eagles staff's until this week-end are never exhibited outside of the Native Community. On special consideration, and for this week-end, this very special Bicentennial week-end with the representatives of 4 Nations present of those that fought during the War of 1812, we were all there to witness for the first time two Eagle Staffs lead our Grande Parade in honour of the War of 1812 and the following peace.
To all 1812 units and individuals who join us for this week-end, thank you very much for making this event successful and memorable.
2nd Lincoln Artillery
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- Very well said John.
It was a fun and different event. we had a blast (small numbers of them due to usual Parks rules but still a blast).
Hussah to Mr. Sek et al for great efforts and achievement in pulling it off with huge funding cuts at the last minute.A great pleasure meeting Gen Hillier (ret) and chatting with him.
Than you s John and FT. Eire's great hospitality.
RN Landing Party-gun Crew
----- Original Message -----
From: John Sek
Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2012 5:14 PM
Subject: 1812 Fort Erie Grande Parade/Tattoo & Battle of Frenchman's Creek
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