Tag Archives: St. Lawrence River

War of 1812 Lecture: ‘The War No One Wanted’


By on

1 Comment

Map of Lake Frontier to Illustrate Campaigns of 1812-1814Communities on both sides of the St. Lawrence River had built an interconnected life of social contracts, trade, marriages, friendships, and respectful neighborliness in the years since the American Revolution. Thus, the approach of war in 1812 found little enthusiasm among the civilian populations of New York and Upper Canada.

Find out more about this unwanted and unpopular war when Victor Suthren presents The St. Lawrence War of 1812: The War No One Wanted on Saturday, May 10th, 2 p.m. at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association at the Silas Wright House, 3 East Main St., Canton. Continue reading

Fair-Weather Patriot: General James Wilkinson


By on

3 Comments

General James WilkinsonGeneral James Wilkinson was the 5th Commanding General of the US Army, fought along the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812, and was a spy for the Spanish. Find out more about this colorful character when Matt Dudley presents For King and Countries: The Remarkable Life of an Occasional Spaniard and a Fair-weather Patriot on Saturday, March 1st, 2 p.m. at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association at the Silas Wright House, 3 East Main St., Canton.

This War of 1812 program is part of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s Commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, which was fought from 1812-1815. St. Lawrence County was one of the battlefields of the War of 1812. Continue reading

Environmental History:
The Great Atlantic River Fish Migrations


By on

0 Comments

Running SilverEver wonder what pristine runs of migratory fish in Atlantic rivers looked like to early colonists? Some saw so many salmon, shad, alewives and other species that they said the waters “ran silver” with fish as they swam upstream to spawn.

John Waldman’s Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and their Great Fish Migrations (Lyons Press, 2013) covers the biology, history, and conservation of shad, salmon, striped bass, sturgeon, eels and the others that complete grand migrations between fresh and salt waters. Continue reading

War of 1812: Wilkinson’s Descent of the St. Lawrence


By on

0 Comments

James_WilkinsonWhy would Major General James Wilkinson march his troops around the Village of Ogdensburg while his flotilla of more than 300 boats sailed down the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812?

Learn the answer when John Austin presents Wilkinson’s Descent of the St. Lawrence on Saturday, November 9th, 2 p.m. at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association at the Silas Wright House, 3 East Main St., Canton.  This War of 1812 program is part of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s Commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Continue reading

After 200 Years Armed Canadians Return to Ogdensburg


By on

0 Comments

CanadiansThe bicentennial of the Battle of Ogdensburg will be commemorated with re-enactments and special events this weekend Feb 22-24 (Friday through Sunday) at locations in Ogdensburg and Prescott, Ontario.

“Friday evening the Ontario shore will shower us with a barrage of fireworks and Saturday afternoon the invading Anglo-Canadian army will battle the American troops from the waterfront to past Ogdensburg City Hall,” said Tim Cryderman, President of Forsyth’s Rifles. “The invaders will be inspired by the skirl of the pipes and drums of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highland Regiment from Cornwall, Ontario. After the battle, they’ll give a free public concert in the Ogdensburg Public Library.” Continue reading

New Leadership for Great Lakes Seaway Trail


By on

0 Comments

Seaway Trail, Inc. has named Michael “Mike” Bristol as its new President and CEO. The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a 518-mile, two-state National Scenic Byway, a New York State Scenic Byway, and a state-designated Bicycle Route in New York and Pennsylvania. Bristol becomes only the second President and CEO in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail’s 34-year history.

The Seaway Trail scenic driving route was designated in 1978. The Seaway Trail, Inc. nonprofit organization formed in 1986 with Teresa Mitchell as its first director. Mitchell passed away in January and Charles “Chuck” Krupke served as Interim Executive Director.

Mike Bristol began his new leadership role July 2, 2012. He brings nearly 30 years’ experience in tourism, athletics and nonprofit management to the tourism and economic development organization based in Sackets Harbor, NY.

A Florida State University graduate, Bristol was the Associate Director of his alma mater’s Seminole Boosters, Inc., a national-level fundraising corporation. He served as President and CEO of the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau from 2002 to 2005.

Upon returning to his native northern New York, Bristol served as Director of Marketing and Outreach for The Antique Boat Museum on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in Clayton, NY. Bristol is a member of the Clayton Local Development Corporation Redevelopment Committee that is overseeing a new dock and hotel development.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail organization is known for diverse travel theme marketing, a “Best of the Byways” guidebooks series, Great Lakes Seaway Trail “Outdoor Storyteller” signage, and innovative programming that includes a American Volkssport Association-approved series of War of 1812-theme walks.

Popular travel themes include scenic driving road trips, maritime and military history, four seasons’ outdoor recreation, birdwatching, lighthouses and shipwrecks, bicycling, quilting and cultural heritage.

To learn more about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail byway that runs alongside the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania, go online to www.seawaytrail.com.

Photo provided.

New Seaway Guide: Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and the Maid


By on

0 Comments

As Nik Wallenda prepares to walk over Niagara Falls, the newest book in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Guidebook Series – Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and The Maid – tells the stories of the Falls’ first tightrope walkers and other daredevils, the famous, and fascinating everyday people who have lived, worked, played and traveled along the Lake Erie, Niagara River, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines in New York and Pennsylvania.

Readers will discover interesting details about American Presidents, pirates, pioneers, chefs, lighthouse keepers, artists, and adventurers in the collection of vignettes enhanced by historic photographs, art, illustrations and maps.


The Maid in the new book’s title is the Maid of the Mist tour boat, a Niagara Falls tradition since 1846 and co-sponsor of the book project.

The guide’s introduction encourages driving the full 518 miles of the National Scenic Byway and stopping at a series of Great Lakes Seaway Trail “Outdoor Storyteller” signs to learn more facts about local architecture, agriculture, maritime, military and natural history.

The new book is written by Steve Benson and published by the nonprofit tourism promoter Seaway Trail, Inc., Sackets Harbor, NY. Benson is also co-author of Great Lakes Seaway Trail’s French and Indian War guidebook Waterways of Way: The Struggle for Empire 1754-1763.

Learn more about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail series of travel guides voted “Best of the Byways” by the American Recreation Coalition online at www.seawaytrail.com  or call 315-646-1000 x200.

Lake Erie region stories in Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and the Maid include: tales of fish wars and Lake Erie’s fury, the Erie Triangle, Dan Rice and Daniel Dobbins, War of 1812 combatants, grape growers, Celeron’s many legacies, the Dunkirk Lighthouse and notable shipwrecks.

Buffalo/Niagara Falls region stories include: Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpieces, a tale of pistols at 12 paces, shipwrecks and pirates, Underground Railroad heroes, the ghost of the French Castle, and the “Cat-of-the-Mist.”

Rochester/Central Lake Ontario region stories include: War of 1812 heroine Bathshua Sheffield Brown (her ancestors operate Brown’s Berry Patch, Waterport, NY); Sam Patch, the Yankee Leaper; photography pioneer George Eastman, the Underground Railroad on Sodus Bay.

Eastern Lake Ontario region stories include: Harriet Tubman and other Underground Railroad heroes, “The Big Cheese,” the War of 1812 Battle of Big Sandy, a female Commandant at Sackets Harbor, a tale of two wrecks, and The Whittlesey Woman.

Thousand Islands/St. Lawrence River region stories include: skiffs, steamships, and yachts; pirate Bill Johnston; a Maple Island murder mystery; two castles; artist Frederic Remington, Fort de La Presentation, and the 1760 Battle of the 1000 Islands.

Ogdensburg Founder’s Day Weekend July 23-24


By on

0 Comments

Ogdensburg, in St. Lawrence County, will play host to it’s annual Founder’s Day celebration, French and Indian War reenactment, and colonial trade fair on Saturday, July 23 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday, July 24 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

More than 250 years ago the roar of cannon fire echoed over the St. Lawrence River on the now peaceful stretch between Ogdensburg, New York and Prescott, Ontario. The final battle of the French and Indian War – the battle that truly led to the French losing Canada to the English – was fought here in August 1760.

Founder’s Day Weekend is the annual commemoration of Ogdensburg’s French colonial history and the Battle of the Thousand Islands. Lighthouse Point features a military re-enactment and colonial trade fair. As many as 500 participants from the U.S. and Canada, dressed in 18th-century clothes, will establish an encampment of white canvass tents.

French and English naval contingents will moor their historically accurate small boats along the shore and bivouac there. The crews will race on Saturday morning, but Saturday and Sunday afternoon the boats with bow guns and muskets in battle on the river. The skirmishing on the water leads into the land battle. Across the width of Lighthouse Point, the opposing forces and their Native allies will maneuver.

Civilian life of the colonies will also be represented as women and children, pipers, dancers, artisans, traditional tradesmen and women, and sutlers, the merchants that followed the armies, set up their shops to furnish just about anything a re-enactor, or 21st-century tourist, could want.

The re-enactment of the Battle of the Thousand Islands and the colonial trade fair are adjacent to the archaeological remains of Fort de la Présentation, built by the French in 1749. When the tide of war turned in favor of the English, the French vacated the fort in early 1759 and continued the construction of Fort Lévis downriver on Île Royal, now Chimney Island. La Présentation was a wooden stockade; Lévis was a substantial fortification.

The 1760 Battle of the Thousand Islands began with the capture of the French corvette L’Outauaise by a swarm of English row galleys off abandoned Fort de la Présentation. The battle continued with the successful, weeklong siege of Fort Lévis. The English pressed on to accept the capitulation of Montreal.

For more than a decade, the annual Founder’s Day Weekend has honored the shared history of Canada and the United States. Here, where the Oswegatchie River flows into the St. Lawrence, the Fort La Présentation Association plans to rebuild the historic fort as a high-quality, tourist attraction.

Admission: Adults $8; Children 7 to 12 $2; children 6 and under free.

More information is available online or by calling the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce at 1-877-228-7810.

Photo courtesy Sandy Goss, Eagle Bay Media.

2011 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Mag Available


By on

0 Comments

The 2011 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Magazine is now available with stories on wineries, the War of 1812, and enjoying a scenic drive on the 518-mile National Scenic Byway that parallels the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Niagara River, and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania.

Photographs; a calendar of 110-plus events; a directory of attractions, accommodations and services; and the GPS coordinates for more than 100 Great Lakes Seaway Trail “outdoor storyteller” interpretive signs are also included in the 64-page, full-color magazine.

The front cover of the 2011 edition of the annual glossy travel magazine features a tour boat approaching Boldt Castle in the 1000 Islands region of the byway.

The back cover invites travelers to go geocaching on the byway to collect five elegant Great Lakes Seaway Trail collectible geocoins.

Great Lake Seaway Trail Director of Business Relations Kurt Schumacher says the travel magazine is now reaching new markets.

“In addition to finding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Magazine at our member sites along the byway, distribution for the guide now includes high-traffic information and welcome centers on interstate routes in New York and Pennsylvania; locations in Kingston, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and AAA offices in Ohio,” Schumacher says.

The Great Lake Seaway Trail Travel Magazine is also included in Relocation Readiness packets for soldiers arriving at Fort Drum, NY, and in physician recruiting packets developed by Oswego Health, which operates Oswego Hospital, a skilled nursing facility, and a retirement living site in Oswego, NY.

A digital version of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Magazine is online at www.seawaytrail.com/travelmagazine.

Rochester Businessman Joins Boating Museum Board


By on

0 Comments

Rochester businessman Allyn E. Hetzke Sr. has joined the Board of Directors of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum. Hetzke, who is active in the Antique and Classic Boat Society in Clayton on the St. Lawrence River, is married with four children and 13 grandchildren and lives in Spencerport.

The boating museum reached agreement with the City of Geneva in the fall of 2009 to establish a permanent home on the Geneva waterfront in association with a Visitor Center. The building, which will be located on the current Geneva Chamber of Commerce site, is being enabled by a $2 million grant provided to the city by state Sen. Michael Nozzolio. Construction is expected to start this spring.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this project,” said Hetzke. “If the site is correctly developed it should be a world class museum. It should be spectacular for the City of Geneva.”

Hetzke started his company, Unitrac, in 1974 as a metal brokerage company and in the mid-‘80s formed Unitrac Energy Management Systems specializing in energy efficient lighting applications. IlluminFx, a division of Unitrac, provided the color-changing LED system used to light the Cradle of Champions sculpture unveiled during Super Bowl Week near the site of the game. The unveiling was covered on ESPN.

The Rochester Business Journal recently reported that the steel statue in Fort Worth, Texas, weight seven tons and is 16 feet high. It is shaped like the state of Texas and honors the strength and legacy of high school football in the state and those who later played in the National Football League.

Before starting his own business, Hetzke worked for Eastman Kodak Co., Community Savings Bank and Home Life Insurance Co. He former First Rochester Co. in 1971 and incorporated the company into First Rochester Security Corp. in 1972.

Hetzke purchased Burke Steel Serviceenters, Inc. in 1973 and sold the company to Mallard Lakes in 1977. He formed Unitrac in 1974.

He is a 1960 graduate of SUNY at Delhi with an AAS degree in business management. His hobby is restoring old boats and he is a member of the Rochester Curling Club as well as the Rochester Business Alliance.

The boating museum has assembled a collection of more than 100 wooden boats built in the Finger Lakes over the past 100 years, as well as numerous related artifacts and extensive reference material. The collection is stored in the Geneva Enterprise Development Center on North Genesee Street arranged by the Geneva IDA and in Yates County.

Portions of the collection will be displayed on a rotating basis within the new facility, but President Bill Oben emphasized that there will be a lot more to the museum than viewing boats because education, restoration and preservation are the key elements of the museum’s mission.

Also featured will be boat rides on Seneca Lake, active on-water programs including sailing and small boat handling, interactive workshops and displays to engage visitors in the design and construction of boats and boating history materials and programs.

The boating museum is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation and was chartered by the New York State Department of Education in 1997 to “research, document, preserve and share the boating history of the Finger Lakes region.”

Additional information about the boating museum may be found on its website.

Fort La Présentation to Develop Schools Project


By on

0 Comments

A grant of $10,000 has been awarded to the Fort La Présentation Association by the telecom giant AT&T to develop and implement a five-year educational outreach project to elementary schools in the St. Lawrence Valley region.

The curriculum-based Hands-On-History project will provide reproduction 18th- and 19th- century heritage items, interpretive materials and lesson plans which will intrigue students and help teachers meet state and national standards for history and social studies.

Hands-On-History will run as the name suggests. Students will be able to handle, hold or try on the clothes, tools and other gear which will help them explore the history of Fort de la Présentation under the flags of France, Great Britain and the United States from 1749 to 1813.

“We are very grateful to AT&T for the generous funding,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Présentation Association. “The donation significantly maximizes the Fort Association’s modest financial and in-kind resources to allow us to reach a major goal of our educational strategy.”

“Our thanks also go to our long-time supporter, former State Senator Darrel Aubertine,” O’Keefe continued, “who drew the attention of AT&T to our plans to enrich our children’s learning.”

To ensure the project continues beyond the first year, the Fort Association’s contribution is $4,700. Fort Association board is committing $300 annually in year’s two to five. The $1,200 investment is to maintain printed materials and replace lost or damaged items.

In-kind services worth $3,500 – volunteered by museum, history and education professionals affiliated with the Fort Association – will help develop evaluation criteria, meet curricular goals and promote the new education opportunity to schools across the region.

“By autumn 2011, Hands-on-History should be available to teachers,” said O’Keefe. “We look forward to students experiencing their local history and discovering a first-hand connection to early days in the St. Lawrence Valley region.”

Sackets Harbor French and Indian War Lecture


By on

0 Comments

On Friday, June 4, historian, colonial-style blacksmith, and authentic artifact supplier Jack Vargo will present the exciting tale of “The Last Battle of the French and Indian War.” The final struggle to control the North American continent in 1760 was waged at Fort Levis on Chimney Island in the St. Lawrence River. The program begins at 6:30pm at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center at the corner of Ray and West Main Streets in Sackets Harbor, NY.

Vargo is co-owner and head artisan for the Beaver River Trading Company, a Croghan, NY, business that provides historically accurate museum-quality 17th and 18th century colonial artifact reproductions to historic sites and living history reenactors.

Vargo says, “My background in mechanical engineering, an interest in the early technologies of Native American and Colonial populations and knowledge gathered through archaeological studies and publication development support our efforts to preserve and interpret history, much of which occurred throughout the Great Lakes Seaway Trail shoreline region.”

In 2009, Seaway Trail, Inc. published “Waterways of War: The Struggle for Empire 1754-1763, A Traveler’s Guide to the French & Indian War Forts and Battlefields along America’s Byways in New York and Pennsylvania.”

The New York State Signature Event commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the French and Indian War is set for July 16-18 at Fort la Presentation as part of the Ogdensburg, NY, Founder’s Day celebration.

There is a $5 fee for the June 4 program at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center to benefit the Seaway Trail Foundation. For more information, call 315-646-1000.

US Fish Commission Annual Reports Available Online


By on

2 Comments

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has placed online the annual reports of the United States Fish Commission, also known as the United States Fish and Fisheries Commission, from 1871-1940 and 1947-1979 in PDF format. The Commission was also part of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and these annual reports present comprehensive overview of the U.S. Fish Commission’s activities for each year. The reports are helpful for historians of commercial fishing areas in New York State including Long Island, the lower Hudson River, the St. Lawrence River, and Lake Erie. The entire collection can be found here.

The U. S. Fish Commission was established in 1871. By 1881 the Commission was known as the U.S. Fish and Fisheries Commission. The Bureau of Biological Survey was established in 1885. In 1903 the name was changed to Bureau of Fisheries. The Bureau of Fisheries was transferred on July 1, 1939, from the Department of Commerce to the Department of the Interior. In 1940 the Bureau of Fisheries and the Bureau of Biological Survey were consolidated to form the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Beginning in July 1946, during the transition from war to peace, the Annual Report became a series of Quarterly Reports which presented a summary of bilogical investigations conducted by the Division of Fishery Biology and a general resume of progress of investigations during the entire year. 1957 was the last issue of Annaul Reports of the Fishery Biology, Department of Interior.

The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 created the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife within the Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior. The Report of the Bureau of Commerical Fisheries for the Calendar Year 1958… (published in 1962) was the first report for calender year 1957 and reviewed, in detail, the organization of the Bureau, the history of fishery administration and the operation of the Bureau’s predecessor organizations, U.S. Fish Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries.

The Report of the National Marine Fisheries Service for Calendar Year 1970-1971 covers the period of transition of the Federal fisheries agency from the Deparment of Interior to the newly formed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce.

Photo: A diagram of a gill net used for Salmon on the St. Lawrence River from the 1871 U. S. Fish Commission annual report.

Call For Proposals For ‘Maritime Environments’ Conference


By on

2 Comments

Continued concerns over depleted fish stocks, piracy, changing climate, global shipping policies, and the safety of merchant mariners and port communities have all recently converged to remind scholars, policy makers, and citizens alike that we ignore our relationships to the marine world at our peril. More than just recent phenomena, however, each of these ties between human society and the marine environment has deep historical roots. The event will be held May 12-16, 2010 at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point and Mystic Seaport.

Under the theme “Maritime Environments,” the 2010 annual meeting of the North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH), the Council of American Maritime Museums (CAMM), the National Maritime History Society (NMHS), and The Steamship Historical Society of America (SSHSA) seeks papers exploring the scholarly contexts of these contemporary crises in the world’s oceans.

All interested scholars, especially historians, marine environmental historians, museum professionals, archaeologists, historical ecologists, and graduate students are invited to submit proposals for papers examining the “maritime” environment.

The Conference Call defines the terms “Maritime” and “Environments” broadly to include the widest range of human relationships to the sea. How have human labor practices affected ties between human communities and natural resources? How and where did humans experience the oceanic realm and how did those sites frame experiences? What economic, defense, commercial, and foreign policy initiatives drive human efforts
in the maritime environment? And, of particular interest, how have human actions affected the world’s oceans, and what can historical records tell us about the changing health of the fisheries, climate, or other natural forces? Finally, how do scholars convey these lessons to a larger public?

Individual papers are welcome, but full sessions with three papers and a chair are preferred. Proposals should include a brief abstract of 500 words for each paper, plus a one-page abstract for proposed panels, and a brief bio of 200 words for each participant, including chairs. Graduate students are strongly encouraged to submit
proposals for presentations. Accommodations for PowerPoint presentations
will be provided; however, any other requirements, including audio-visual equipment, special outlets, or accommodations for disabilities should be included in the proposal. Scholars interested in chairing sessions are welcome to send a brief bio to the Program Committee Co-chairs. Please note that all participants must register for
the conference.

Specific questions may be directed to Program Committee Co-Chairs, Matthew McKenzie (matthew.mckenzie@uconn.edu), Brian Payne (bjpayne@odu.edu), or Vic Mastone (victor.mastone@state.ma.us).

The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2010.

Photo: 1904. Erie Canal at Salina Street, Syracuse, New York.” Detroit Publishing Company glass negative, Library of Congress.

Saint Lawrence Seaway Celebrates 50 years


By on

0 Comments

July 9-12, 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of the engineering feat that created the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The best way to see the seaway is to take the 518-mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail which parallels the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania. A journey along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail offers an authentic American experience of the fresh waters and shoreline landscapes that has shaped much of America’s history.

Fifty years ago Queen Elizabeth II and Dwight D. Eisenhower opened the manmade waterway route into the North American interior. Since then, rhe Saint Lawrence Seaway has been called “the Gateway to North America” and the 120-mile east-to-west start of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is its road-based parallel. The byway then continues another 398 miles to the Pennsylvania-Ohio border along Lake Erie.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Locks Visitor Center, from which you can watch the world’s oceangoing vessels rise and lower the equivalent of a six-story building in the locks at Massena, NY, is one of many iconic destinations on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Other popular destinations include the 1000 Islands, small harbors along the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie shorelines, Niagara Falls, and the Seaway Trail Pennsylvania Erie Bayfront. Learn more online at www.seawaytrail.com.

Ogdensburg, Fort La Présentation’s Founder’s Day Weekend


By on

1 Comment

Stepping into the past at Founder’s Day Weekend in Ogdensburg, NY July 18-19 is an opportunity for visitors to witness the crafts and trades of our ancestors beyond the activities of the French and Indian War re-enactment. To kick off the weekend, there will be a free concert of colonial music Friday evening in Library Park. Linda Russell, an 18th-century balladeer, will perform courtesy of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council. Ms. Russell will also perform Saturday and Sunday on Lighthouse Point.

After an absence of many years, lace making is returning. In the 1700s, lace was an essential fashion statement on the clothes of well-to-do men and women. Girls learned at an early age to make lace that brought extra income to a family.

New this year is a demonstration bakery. The homey smell of fresh-baked bread usually brings a flood of good memories. A unique part of New France will come to life in the scent and sight of crusty loaves and buns.

The blacksmith and tinsmith are basic to Founder’s Day Weekend. As the blacksmith describes his trade, he will no doubt be hammering, riveting or welding some traditional piece of equipment ordered by a re-enactor. The tinsmith displays lanterns, candlesticks, and tinderboxes once indispensable in a colonial household, and now found in the camps of re-enactors or the homes of collectors.

Collectors, too, may take a fancy to the pottery to be made and sold on site. Jugs, mugs, bowls and other essentials will be turned on the potter’s wheel with an eye to tradition and practicality.

Re-enactors add to their kits and replace lost items by purchasing items at Founder’s Day Weekend. They patronize the sutlers, the canvas-covered vendors that spring up at re-enactments selling just about everything a person from the 18th century or the 21st century may need or fancy.

Vital to the weekend are the re-enactors portraying the French, British and Native troops of the mid 1700s. Their uniforms, arms, camps, drills and battle tactics give substance and color to our history. Re-enactors also spend money in the community, so expect to see them in their colonial garb in the stores and restaurants of Ogdensburg.

The display of antique naval arms and equipment that debuted last year is coming back to round out the riverside aspect of Founder’s Day Weekend. Traditional boats in the navy camp are expected from Quebec, Ontario and New York. The historically accurate bateaux will race Saturday morning and engage in battles on the river Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

The armed boats are likely to join in a cannonade at 8:30 P.M. Saturday evening. The guns of Fort Wellington in Prescott, Ontario will duel with the re-enactors’ artillery on Lighthouse Point. The larger Canadian guns will fire slowly, but there will be rapid fire from the smaller guns on the point. The public will be able to watch from Riverside Park and the marina.

Following the artillery pyrotechnics, a free-admission ball featuring English country dance will be held at the Freight House Restaurant in walking distance of Lighthouse Point. “No dancing experience is required,” said the organizer George Cherepon. “Easy-going dance instructors will teach the steps before playing the music, and they then call the steps as the music plays.”

Founder’s Day Weekend is larger this year as the Fort La Présentation Association prepares to host the final New York State 250th anniversary commemoration of the end of the French and Indian War in 2010. Information about Founder’s Day Weekend can be found at www.fortlapresentation.net.

Photo: French boats armed with swivel guns drive away a British boat while skirmishing off Lighthouse Point during a battle re-enacted on the St. Lawrence River at Founder’s Day Weekend in Ogdensburg.

2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series


By on

0 Comments

A presentation by acclaimed French & Indian War reenactor Major George A. Bray III will present “Struggle for an Empire, The French and Indian War along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, 1755-1760” at 6 pm at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield this Thursday, May 21, 2009. Bray will relate tales of the 250-year-old conflict to open the 2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series. Bray will appear in period costume, portraying an officer of Rogers’ Rangers, an elite rapid response light infantry unit known for its bold military tactics. Rogers’ Rangers became the chief scouting unit of the British Crown forces during the war fought from 1754 to 1760.

In addition to being a respected French & Indian War historian, Bray is a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians, and an author writing for such publications as Early America Review. He has written about various aspects of the war from the use of poisoned bullets by the French to scalping. Bray’s historic collection includes original newspapers, documents, books, prints and weaponry.

As event commander at historic Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY, Bray will welcome hundreds of reenactors for the July 3-5 New York State Signature Event for the 250th French & Indian War Anniversary Commemoration. Bray says, “My mission is to portray 18th century military life for the education of visitors to historic sites and to perpetuate the significant history of the French and Indian War and Rogers’ Rangers.”

Bray serves with Seaway Trail Foundation President Teresa Mitchell on the New York State French and Indian War 250th Anniversary Commemorative Commission. The $5 admission for May 21st presentation will benefit the nonprofit Seaway Trail Foundation that promotes learning experience tourism along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, one of America’s Byways noted for authentic American experiences. Learn more at www.seawaytrail.com or call 315-646-1000.