General Sir Isaac Brock exhorts citizens to join the armed forces and beat back the Americans who had invaded Lower Canada.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 6, 2012  Marvelous Mike was there, asking – “did you get the cheque?” Mike delivers money from the federal government in Ottawa to the good people of Burlington, who in return put a check mark beside his name every four years or so, which sends him back to Ottawa so he can continue doing the same thing.  It’s a nice job.

With Marvelous Mike out of the way, Dave Vollick, the Town Crier who served as Master of Ceremonies for the John Brant Day at LaSalle Park, worked his way down the food chain from MP, to MPP, to Regional Chair to Mayor.  That’s what we pay these guys for – to come out and say hello.

As Vollick called up each of the dignitaries he sounded a bit like the ring  master at a wrestling match calling out the names of the participants.  Regional Chair Gary Carr asked if perhaps Vollick was available to the Region; Carr thought he would be useful in getting the Regional message out.

From the left, John Norton, Sir Isaac Brock and John Brant at the LaSalle Park Brant Day event. All three men played a very significant role in the War of 1812. While Brock lost his life at Queenston Height, Brant and Norton went on to play major roles in the growth of the native community.

With the dignitaries off the stage we got to hear from General Sir Isaac Brock and John, the son of Joseph Brant, both of whom were done as en-actors telling us a part of the story of the War of 1812 – which few in the area know all that much about.

That War was the first the new American republic declared on anyone anywhere – and they lost that war.  Since then, Canada and the United States have worked their differences out peacefully.

A smart bunch of people were hired to put together a series of events to tell the War of 1812 story and how Brock  worked with the aboriginal people to beat back the Americans.  Joseph Brant died in 1807 and wasn’t a part of this war but his son John served with Brock in many battles.

Protocol and discipline were what made the British troops the fighters they were. Here an officer takes the salute from his troops.

One of the difficulties Brock had while preparing for the war with the Americans,was finding enough volunteers and then training them properly.  He traveled between York (now called Toronto) and the Niagara Peninsula and passed through Burlington frequently.

Unlike the Americans we don’t do much work on our local history and can’t point to buildings and say “Brock slept there”.  We can point to the almost exact spot at Queenston Heights where Brock was felled by a bullet from a sniper.

Monday, at LaSalle Park, we heard one of the Proclamations Brock read out to the people of the area exhorting them to sign up and serve King and Country and beat back the Americans.

To commemorate that War and all the events that were part of it, a  Brock en-actor is doing a walk from York through to Port Dover over the balance of the week.

Different regiments that took part in the War of 1812 were on hand for the Brant Day event at LaSalle Park where Sir Isaac Brock met with John Brant and John Norton – all three were participants in the Queenton Heights battle where Brock lost his life.

There was a very solid crowd on hand for the event.  Probably more than 100 War of 1812 en-actors with their encampments and camp followers dressed in period costume.

Two things stood out for me.  We learned nothing about the various regiments that were on hand.  Who were the guys in the grey uniforms and what did they do?  And who were the guys in the red uniforms?  Were they the ones that stormed Queenston Heights with Brock?

There was a missed opportunity to get into some of the detail of those battles.  Where were these men recruited? What did they get paid?  The British were famous for their battle formations and their tight drills.  It would have been something to see these drills done out there on that field with a volley of musket fire and Generals barking out orders.

Instead we got to see the Burlington Teen Tour Band who were wise enough to take off their uniform jackets – it was a scorcher.

We saw very little of the native community this year – again.  The natives and the Museums of Burlington don’t have a very good working relationship.

A 7 year old aboriginal boy demonstrated using hoops at the Brant Day event at LaSalle Park

There was one young man, a 7 year old aboriginal, showing us where has was in his “hoop dance” training.  The adult with him beat out a sound from a small drum and called out a dance tune as the young lad did each of the routines.  I look forward to coming back in a year or so and seeing this young man in full warrior dress doing a superb hoop dance.

The day at LaSalle Park has been traditionally called Joseph Brant Day but this year it was named John Brant day and the focus was to be on his son and his relationship to Brock.  Other than a few words said by the John Brant en-actor we heard nothing and learned less from this young man.  Another opportunity missed.

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