The Attack on Gananoque

Tom Coke

by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Thomas Coke

The Beginning...
On September 21st, 1812, Captain Forsyth of the 1st US Rifle Regiment led his American Militia across the St. Lawrence River and invaded Gananoque. This skirmish marked the beginning of the War of 1812 and art of a bitter war between a growing United States, and the territory which later became Canada. In order to celebrate the two hundred year anniversary of this conflict, a number of events are taking part throughout the province of Ontario. On August 25th, and 26th, the Town of Gananoque hosted a full re-enactment of the raid of Gananoque which featured battles between gunboats, and tall ships. Thousands of people from all over the province, and United States made their way to Gananoque to watch the events.

Canada's War of Independence?
Much discussion has been made regarding the extent of the celebration of the war of 1812. Some argue that we as Canadians, founding nation of peacekeepers, should not even take part in the celebration of war. I personally think that these re-enactments are not solely about celebrating war; they stand for where we came from. If the war of 1812 had ended differently, the nation of Canada would have been nothing more than just a pipedream. The war of 1812 essentially was Canada’s war of independence. On August 25th and 26th, everyone that was attendance at the re-enactments of the Battle of Gananoque got to see a glimpse of what life was like in the period of 1812. From looking at the style of dress, to visiting the doctors tent and listening different methods of treating patients, you were able to get a sense of not only how far of a nation we’ve come, but also you can gain a better appreciation for our history.

Learning From Experience...
That in essence is what history is about. Taking the stories of the past, and learning them in order to gain a better appreciation of what it means to be a Canadian, and to all of the visitors that watched the re-enactments over the weekend of August 25th, and 26th, I hope each and everyone gained a better appreciation and understanding for the past. To me, the celebration of 1812, isn’t about celebrating war; it’s about celebrating our country of Canada, and everything that makes being Canadian great.