Backus War of 1812 Re-enactment

Anne Brooks

by Festival Nomad Correspondents, Anne Brooks

Mr. Backhouse's Mill...
On Saturday, September 11th I was lucky enough to take the drive to Backus Heritage Village in Backus Heritage Conservation Area for the Backus War of 1812 Re-enactment. It was a beautiful sunny September day with over 300 re-enactors present to participate in this great annual event. Backus Heritage Village is a pioneer village in Port Rowan, with more than a dozen buildings. This village is home of the Backhouse mill; this is one of the only grist mills not burned down during the War of 1812. There are many stories surrounding the mystery as to why this mill was not burned down, the most widely accepted being that the owner of the mill, Mr. Backhouse, was a free mason, and so was the American Captain. It is thought that connection spared the mill. Along with the mill there are a dozen or so buildings including a octagonal shaped Schoolhouse and an indoor museum with little rooms showing examples of unique businesses that might have been in a typical 1800’s village.

The Re-enactment...
Backus has a unique War of 1812 Re-enactment; the different groups’ camp throughout the whole village. There was an excellent skirmish in the morning just outside of the village. The cannons fired over the pond and soldiers fought in and around a forested area. The afternoon battle was inside the village within a valley. Visitors were able to watch at the top of one of the hills as the soldiers battled it out. The organizer of this event, Robin DeCloet puts together an amazing event. I am lucky enough that we are able to help each other out. Robin asked me to be a part of her re-enactment. Robin, her volunteers and I went onto the field at the end of the battle depicting ladies who cared for the soldiers. We gathered up some of the injured soldiers and took them to the surgeon. There were three surgeons for this event, and they did an excellent presentation of an arm and leg amputation. I had never seen a re-enactment of an amputation. It certainly was a captivating experience.

Backus Heritage Village...
The Backus Heritage Village 1812 re-enactment is truly unique. Robin and her volunteers are able to provide an event in a pioneer village on a historic site. I felt so welcomed attending this event and I got to see, and participate in this very special experience. My time at Backus Heritage Village was both enjoyable and educational and I would encourage others to visit this historical gem. The Backus War of 1812 Re-enactment is only one of many events held at the Village.