I admit, when I first came up with this Achievement, I was hopefully remembering our drive through Gettysburg on the way to our friends’ Lancaster wedding back in 2009. It’s a cute little town, with lots of things to see, and certainly, lots of history.
Unfortunately, with the costs of redoing All of the Backyard (photos and posts about THAT to come once it’s finally completed) and our other unexpected trips (Atlantic City for Dave Matthews Band this coming weekend, for example), a weekend Gettysburg getaway was kind of out of the 2011 equation. But as the Dave song suggests, we always make the best of what’s around, and so, when the opportunity to tour a historic battlefield in Canada presented itself, we were all over it!
I am simultaneously fascinated and puzzled by history. I love reading about it, or visiting historical sites, and I get super caught up in the moment, but if asked to recall more than simple facts later down the line, I kind of go deer-in-the-headlights. Like, I could point out to you the exact spot of the Boston Massacre, and I remember that it wasn’t quite the massacre that you would think, from a word like massacre (five people were killed), but I really don’t remember the specifics. British in town, American Revolution, probably some booze and muskets, might have had to do with Yankees v. Red Sox?
(This is one of the many reasons I will never pretend to think I’m qualified to run for any sort of political office. There is only so much room in my brain, and unfortunately, the mental catalog of all of Carrie Bradshaw’s outfits has sort of pushed out 10th grade American History. Sorry, Mrs. Williams, I promise I loved it when you were teaching it!)
My mum, on the other hand, is a history buff, and she has random facts about the Crusades memorized so well that it’s possible she was there in person in a previous life. And she loves the details and the hows and whys of history, and my husband just has encyclopedic trivia knowledge jammed into his head, so it was like, two people who are really learning and listening, and then me, going, ‘A MUSKET A MUSKET LOOK AT THAT A TOWER!’ ::sigh::
Fort George was important in the War of 1812, but mostly in the parts that were after 1812. Well, mostly important to Americans, because 1813 was when we came in and defeated the Canadians and took the fort.
It was a pretty sweet fort, so I can’t say that I blame the Americans. I think a few years after, the Canadians took it back. Somewhere in the course of our travels in Canada, we learned that some wars were fought in certain places after they were officially declared ‘over’, because communication didn’t reach everybody fast enough. There was no one there to Twitter battles at Fort George.
And then I got to do a snooty cannon-firing pose. Haha Canadians, we’re going to take your Fort, and make you hold curling tournaments on the lawn for our entertainment! (Really, that would be sweet, if there was not so much grass, because I imagine curling on grass is really hard.)
And then, the best part of the trip, we got to see a musket demonstration!! This nice young gentleman explained to us all of the drama of musket-eering (that’s not what they called it, is it?). Muskets were horribly inaccurate, and that is why people fought in lines. If everyone didn’t fight in straight lines, no one was ever going to shoot anyone else.
But once the things finally worked, it was kind of impressive. The finest musket-eers could load and shoot approximately every 16 seconds. I feel like people would die of boredom waiting to get shot more often than they’d die from musket wounds! (Although he showed us how you could attach a pointy knife-thing to the end of your musket when your boss yelled, “FINISH HIM!” That was apparently far more accurate.)
Oh, Fort George is supposedly haunted. How could I forget to mention that?? We all know how I love haunted stuff! They even do ghost tours at night in October, and apparently, you can meet some soldier ghosts wandering around, reenacting battles.
Unfortunately for us, we visited on a sunny day, and as our B&B host so succinctly put it, “ghosts get the daylight hours off.” We didn’t see any ghosts, but I could definitely tell there was a good chance they would be hanging out there later that night! (I’ll tell you what, if I was a Canadian soldier ghost, I would spend my days evaporating and reappearing in wine barrels, that’s for damn sure.)
We got to take the secret underground tunnel from the main part of the fort to the lookout tower. This is probably a good spot for ghosts. (Please, no one point out that weird red glow around the first lamp on the left.)
Here we are, being the pesky Americans. (Apparently, the American army was more than just pesky. According to the Canadian reports, the Americans burned Niagara to the ground and kicked everyone out of their houses, even little old ladies and kids without shoes. Michael and I just want to go on record and say that we were merely pesky Americans, looking for cannons and wine and ghosts in uniform.)
All in all, we had a pretty stellar time, and we learned a lot about muskets and the War of 1812. I would love to go back some time for the ghost tour and see what the vibe is like after dark. Oh, and I’d like to stop back for some more snacks. On our walk back, my Old-Economy-camper-senses kicked into high gear, and I smelled something being baked in the old 1800s style. Sure enough, in the kitchens, they were making cake and cookies over a fire!
So, when it comes down to it, I may not remember all the details of historic battles, but I can surely sniff out some historic baked goods.