Huronia Museum's Heritage Dinner launches War of 1812 bicentennial events 0
Last Friday evening 300 ticket holders attended a Heritage Dinner hosted by the Huronia Museum at the North Simcoe Sports & Recreation Centre to kick off a year of events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Museum Director Jamie Hunter says, "This is the best turnout in 22 years that the Huronia Museum Heritage Dinner has ever had so we're delighted." The event raised over $18,000, surpassing last year's total of $15,000, and the funds will be used toward maintaining the museum's collection of artifacts, community outreach and in-house education programs and exhibit improvements.
Noted historian, university professor and author of The Civil War of 1812, Alan Taylor was the keynote speaker. Taylor, who is American, engaged the crowd with his insights into the conflict and drew laughter and applause with his deft analysis of the American viewpoint of the war they would rather forget than commemorate. He said, "Americans don't want to talk about the War of 1812. Most Americans don't know that the American anthem came out of the War of 1812; they think it came out of the American Revolution."
He added, "This area was a very important transportation corridor between what is now Toronto and the military base on Georgian Bay, which was a key link to the trading posts on the Upper Great Lakes. This area was quite a key linchpin. The British and their Native allies were successful at defending that supply line and so Fort Michilimackinac remained in British hands until the end of the War."
Taylor shared his view, as stated in his book, that the War of 1812 should be considered a civil war due to the fact that it was fought alongside a border that saw many families and friends fighting on opposite sides of it. He noted, "Back then it was still very much two countries that were completely enmeshed and connected through family and friends. The two cultures--British and American-- were much more similar then than they become over the past two centuries. Native peoples fought alongside both sides of the conflict against each other; sometimes against families who were separated by the border." He concluded his talk by stating that the victory of the War was coexistence and not complete defeat of either side.
Notable attendees were North Simcoe's MP Bruce Stanton and MPP Garfield Dunlop, Midland Mayor Gord McKay as well as several Town of Midland councillors. David Brunelle, one of two "soldiers" dressed in a military costume of the era, spoke about the many events being held this year in Southern Georgian Bay to remember the War and reminded the audience that Discovery Harbour in Penetanguishene Bay was born during that War. He added that further commemoration of the War next year will involve the return of the Tall Ships to Southern Georgian Bay. Details on these events can be found at www.1812bicentennial.com
Aside from the many events being planned by the Huronia Museum, the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum and Archives (PCMA) will be hosting its annual Settlers' Day Dinner on September 29; this year's theme is honouring descendants of veterans of the War of 1812. Moreland Lynn is asking residents to get in touch with him or Curator Nicole Jackson at the PCMA if they think they have ancestors who fought in the area 200 years ago. Bill Jamieson is also looking for Aboriginal descendants of the Native Alliance that fought alongside British and French soldiers. Contact Jamieson through the Huronia Museum at 705-526- 2844.
Finally, Eric Conroy spoke to the audience about the planned return of the SS Keewatin to her home port of Port McNicoll on June 23--look for more details in an upcoming issue of the Midland Free Press. Hunter also acknowledged the approximately twenty volunteers that helped the museum staff coordinate the Heritage Dinner and transform the community room into a festive space complete with a large Union Jack flag backdrop. "The volunteer committee that organized this did a fabulous job, the floor would not look nearly as good without their efforts."
For more information on the Huronia Museum visit www.huroniamuseum.com.