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St. Mary's River,  Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
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Sault Star, Local News

Tall ships - There will be a lot to celebrate in 2012 - War or 1812 one of three major celebrations

By Dan Bellerose, Sault Star
Friday, October 22, 2010 6:13:46 EDT AM

Be prepared to revisit the past as Sault Ste. Marie and area celebrates three events historical significance in a couple of years.

The Sault will be the first of seven Ontario regions launching War of 1812 Bicentennial celebrations in the summer of 2012, the same year the Ermatinger Old Stone House, one of the oldest stone structures northwest of Toronto, celebrates its 200th anniversary and the city marks its 100th year of incorporation.

The city and Fort St. Joseph, a British military outpost on the southeast tip of St. Joseph Island, played significant roles in the conflict between America and Britain, from fort and schooner captures to a settlement burning over the three years.

"The most significant event coming to mind would be the capture of Fort Michilimackinac at the outbreak of the war but there was also the nearby capture of two naval vessels and the burning of the Sault," said Kathy Fisher, co-chair of the Algoma 1812 planning committee.

Fisher's group, including about 75 volunteers from throughout Algoma District, as well as area First Nation, Metis and State of Michigan representatives, have been brainstorming on the bicentennial for the past two years.

"We've got a few ideas we're working on, significant characters of the era, in costume, circulating throughout the downtown, a re-creation lacrosse event (lacrosse being the sport of the era) and a re-creation of settlement fur traders setting off to join the Michilimackinac raid.

"We have yet to finalize a signature kick-off event . . . . We hope the Governor General (the Sault's David Johnston) can accept an invitation to attend the celebrations."

The committee is hoping to attract some 1812-era tall ships into the area in 2013, two such historical sailing vessels drew about 4,000 visitors over a couple of days this past summer, as well as Canadian and American Navy vessels.

Moments of historical significance in 2014 would include the 200th anniversary of the nearby capture of two American war schooners and the burning of the Sault.

"I think we've been gradually building momentum, it's still a couple of years away."

The first significant date is July 17, 2012, the 200th anniversary of the capture of Michilimackinac by an attacking force of about 500, including nearly 50 British Army regulars and Sault fur trader Charles Ermatinger.

The attack, about a month after the outbreak of the war, saw the fort, with a garrison of about 60 troops, surrendered without a shot being fired - it was the first land battle of the war of U.S. soil.

About two years later, on July 23, 1814, a American raiding party, including about 150 soldiers and sailors, burned the undefended settlement at the Sault, including the North West Co. post, a sawmill and a 38-foot wooden lock.

Nearly two months later, in September, 1814, a British raiding party from Michilimackinac, aboard canoes, captured the USS Tigress, a 15-metre armed schooner with a complement of 27 crew off of St. Joseph Island.

Two days, on Sept. 9. 1814, the Tigress was used to capture the USS Scorpion, a 19-metre armed schooner with a complement of nearly three dozen at the mouth of the Thessalon River.
 


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