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Heritage Village, Vineland, Ontario

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Redcoat soldierJoseph Brant    War of 1812

 

We are located in the heart of Canadian History.  A day’s outing west to Stoney Creek, or east to the Niagara River is where the last battles on Canadian soil were fought for the sovereignty of Canada.  The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is approaching fast, to remind us.  It is here in Niagara that our national identity was forged, at the fringes of old Quebec, when Anglican British officers fought alongside Catholic Quebec troops and Mohawk warriors to repell the American invasion.  They secured this land as a haven for refugees from war and slavery.   

Now Niagara is a refuge for retirees and vacationers who have a heritage to explore, of battlefield parks and walkways featuring historic forts and monuments.  Some buildings, such as the McFarland House,  still show the ravages of war almost  200 years ago.   The site of Butler's Barracks is a park but is still used for military training.  Fort George, headquarters for Major-General Sir Issac Brock was captured in May, 1813 then reclaimed in December 1813.  The current fort is a re-construction done in 1937-1940, while war was raging in Europe.

The hero of 1812, Major-General Brock, having saved Canada, is honoured with a colossal Monument at Queenston.  Here at the dedication, in 1856, is where the Quebec symbol of the maple-leaf was also adopted by English Upper Canada. The sugar maple doesn't grow west of Ontario - but by 1904 it was the symbol for our first Olympians and was on the caps and collars of our soldiers in both World Wars. The maple leaf has further significance for us each spring – since Niagara is also home to part of Ontario’s sugar maple industry.  Canada is the world’s largest producer, mainly in Quebec, having learned about the sweet sap from the Iroquois.  The annual collecting of sap to 'sugar off' into maple syrup is a ritual, not to be missed. 

Most of our residents grew up in a Canada ruled by the Union Jack – on our flags.  They remember the great flag debate of 1964, and the “Pearson pennant”.  Some of our veteran residents  may have signed the petition to Save the Red Ensign when Lester B. Pearson launched his flag policy. Now 45 years later, we all proudly fly the maple leaf flag on our homes and clubhouse, one of the world’s most elegant flags in it’s distinctiveness and simplicity.

So wave your Canadian flag each July 1 and February 15th (Flag Day).  and don’t forget to taste the local maple syrup each spring.   As 2012 approaches, celebrate our distinctive Canadian identity – while you do your cross-border shopping, and be glad you can. 

"The Maple Leaf Forever."

"At Queenston Heights and Lundy's Lane,
Our brave fathers side by side,
For freedom, homes and loved ones dear,
Firmly stood and nobly died;
And those dear rights which they maintained,
We swear to yield them never,
Our watchword ever more shall be,
The Maple Leaf forever."

Alexander Muir (1868)

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