A day's drive (Musings) - sorry for the length
- Some reflections on a good day's drive -
I spent an interesting day on Monday (24th) driving near the ëBig Creekí
region of souththern Ontario (Upper Canada). The weather was
marvellous, and the journey informative. I began by driving directly
from Hamilton to Oakland, just south of Brantford, and to the east of
Hwy 24. Oakland is now a small village built on McKenzie Creek, a
tributary of the Grand River. The original name for the place was
Malcolmís Mills. In the centre of the village, there is a small
cemetery with many loyalist gravestones - now arranged in a line - and
an historic plaque commemorating the defeat of the Norfolk Militia in
November 1814 by Duncan McArthurís invading force.
From there I turned south and slightly east to the village of Boston,
and thence down to modern Ontario Hwy #3 for Vittoria. Named, I
believe, after Wellingtonís victory, but founded in the late 18th
century as a small settlement of Loyalists, and known originally as
Tisdaleís Mill. Of great interest there is the well-maintained Baptist
Cemetery (many of the Loyalists in this area were Baptists), and the
grave to the Austins originally from South Carolina. Two sons fought in
the War of 1812, probably in the Norfolk Militia.
Vittoria was also the district capital until 1815, when the
administration was moved to London.
From Vittoria, I drove along the ëFront Roadí just north of Lake Erie,
and still whispering with the ghosts of 1812-1814, to Port Ryerse, named
after a Loyalist, whose name is variously spelled, Ryerse, Ryerson. Of
great fame in Ontario. In the Anglican churyard, there is a small stone
plaque with the following inscription:
ëIn memory of three unknown, and brave British soldiers,
who died at and for Norfolk. Turkey Point, 1812.
Buried somewhere near this plaque.í
Clearly a topic for some research.
On returning home I went through Donald Gravesí collection of Soldiers
of 1814, and reread of Campbellís raid on the region earlier in 1814. I
then checked out some web sites of the region, and found an interesting
story of the Malcolmís Mills ëbattleí. The locals called it the ëFoot
Raceí because the heavily outnumbered and surprised militia ran away
from the field. McArthur had outflanked them. But one militiaman
decided to stay. His name was Swain Corliss, the son of the local
Baptist pastor. Swain fought, propped against a tree - until his
ammunition was spent, and he was probably responsible for the minimal
American casualties - one dead and half a dozen wounded. He became
something of a local hero. But, for years afterwards a rumour
circulated that ëHero, be damned. He was drunk!í
Reminds what Lincoln is reputed to have said of Grant - give what he was
drinking to all my generals!
All in all, a very good day.
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