Tall ships line up off the pier as they prepare to enter Burlington Bay. Public getting some value out of the pier.


By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. June 28, 2013.  I didn’t see Rick Wilson out on the pier this afternoon with a telescope but there were around 100 people who were up on the observation deck or crowded around the rail of the pier watching the five tall ships manoeuver and getting in position to pass through the canal, under the lift bridge and into Burlington Bay where they were to sail around the bay letting people on both the Hamilton side and the Burlington side see these majestic vessels catch the light winds before they tie up at the various piers they have been given for the duration of their stay in Hamilton.

Wilson, a history buff who will, if you let him, tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the War of 1812 battle that took place on the lake just off the foot of Brant Street, or so some believe, that changed the outcome of the War of 1812 that lasted three years.

They weren’t easy to see but they were certainly out there; five tall ships lining up to pass through the canal and into Burlington Bay where they will tie up in Hamilton for the weekend.

Today, there were five tall ships, easing their way into the canal.  There were supposed to be six – no idea where that last one got to – but the five were out there on the lake.  Many wondered why the ships didn’t come in closer to the pier – wind was not all that good and they had to be far enough out on the lake to be able to line up in procession to get through the canal.

The public gets some value from their $15 million pier (true cost is going to be $20 million) as they watch Tall Ships prepare to sail into Burlington Bay.

It was expected they would all drop their sails as the went through the canal but at least one went through with all their rigging up.

The tallest mast on this ship had to have a hinge placed on it so it could clear the lift bridge that lets her into Burlington Bay.

The tallest of the ships, the Solandet,  had to put a hinge on part of their tallest mast – it was just a little too high to pass underneath the lift bridge safely.

The sky was a little overcast, weather muggy, rain off and on – not the best weather in which to see these ships.  They will be in Hamilton Friday through to Sunday.  Tours are available.

The expectation is that all the ships will sail out of Burlington Bay at the same time.  Exactly when that will happen isn’t all that clear.

There are more than a dozen ships taking part in what is billed as Tall Ships 1812 Tour with different ships showing up at different ports.  St. Catharines, Dalhousie are among those that will be visited.

The Niagara, one of six Tall Ships that will tie up in Hamilton after taking part in a sail past around Burlington Bat.

None of this matters to Rick Wilson, his mission, driven by his passion is to have a plaque set up on the Burlington Heights to replace the one  that everyone now agrees is just plain wrong.

Here they come.

Slip over to the links and read that tale of the role British ships sailing off Burlington played in winning the War of 1812 where ships  fired cannon balls and iron shot at each other.  For those who dive as a hobby – there are cannon balls to be found at the bottom of Lake Ontario –possibly  right off the front of Spencer Smith Park.

  Our colleague chose to catch the ships as the passed through the canal.  She made a better choice than we did.

Margaret Lindsay Holton has written for us in the past.  Some of her columns can be seen at:Terra Greenhouses and Are you nuts?

Tall Ships passed through the Burlington Canal under the Skyway Bridge mid-afternoon on Friday, June 28th.
Black and white photo montages by Margaret Lindsay Holton – Mid-career artist and author from the Golden Horseshoe Region of Ontario, Canada.

Passing through modern history.

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1 comment to Tall ships line up off the pier as they prepare to enter Burlington Bay. Public getting some value out of the pier.

  • John Birch

    ‘Call me Ishmael …. ‘
    Nice article and some great photos in today’s Burlington Gazette of the Tall Ships entering the Harbour Friday off Spencer and in the Burlington Canal.

    They are docked at Pier 4 in Hamilton for the weekend and public tours are available.

    You can imagine how things looked back in the day of commercial sail, with the Harbour full of a forest of masts and square yards.

    ‘Call me Ishmael’ … indeed – Herman Melville would be proud.

    Rush Bagot Agreement
    As an interesting corollary, the Rush Bagot Treaty, or more accurately, the Rush Bagot Agreement limiting the size of warships on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain was struck in 1817 – post the War of 1812.

    The Rush Bagot Agreement between Britain and the USA allowed no more than one armed ship each country per Lake, with a maximum number of guns of one 18lb canon each ship.

    Canada also ratified Rush Bagot with the USA after Confederation – it remains in effect to this day.

    Without doubt, Rush Bagot has proven to be the first and most successful Naval Disarmament Agreement in history.

    We all owe a debt of gratitude to Acting United States Secretary of State Richard Rush and British Minister to Washington Sir Charles Bagot, and their letters of agreement in principle of April 27 and 28, 1817. Those letters provided the foundation for development of the ratified Rush Bagot Agreement the following year, and a lasting peace.