The 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 →
A new organization, Canadian Friends of Fort de La Presentation, is partnering with the Fort La Presentation Association in Ogdensburg, New York to advance the education of Canadians in general and students in particular in shared Canadian and American colonial history.
Through seven decades – 1749 to 1813 – encompassing the Seven Years War, the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Canadian and American history intertwined at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River in what is now Ogdensburg, New York. “The Canadian Friends will develop educational programs and resources, undertake research to advance historical knowledge and widely share these assets through media, local projects and other services,” said Michael Whittaker, president of the Canadian Friends of Fort de La Presentation. “The forts which once stood on Ogdensburg’s Lighthouse Point, La Presentation from 1740 to 1759, Oswegatchie from 1760 to 1796 and Presentation until 1813, are rooted in Canadian history from the last years of New France through the first 50 years of British colonial rule.”
With recognition as a non-profit corporation by the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canadian Friends of Fort de La Presentation is undertaking a campaign to attract members and donations for which charitable tax receipts will be issued. All communications from the Canadian Friends will be in English and French.
They are already working actively with the Fort La Presentation Association to plan the fourth annual War of 1812 Symposium in Ogdensburg April 27 and 28, 2012. The symposium, featuring four speakers from each country, will attract an audience drawn equally from Canada and the USA .
“We hope to fund the Canadian speakers at the War of 1812 symposium,” said Mr. Whittaker. “I live in Bishop’s Mills and know those of us on the Ontario side of the St. Lawrence River look forward to expanding our co-operation with our friends in New York .”
Two of the historians featured in the recent PBS production, “The War of 1812,” are giving seminars at the 2012 symposium. Four other historians who appeared in the production have presented at previous symposia.
Brigadier-General Thomas Brigdum Benedict of De Kalb, St. Lawrence County, NY commanded the northern frontier from Sackets Harbor to Salmon River from June to December 1812. Many people have heard of General Jacob Brown and Captain Benjamin Forsyth, but not Benedict. Who was this man who commanded at Ogdensburg before Forsyth arrived? The public and re-enactors can learn about this forgotten general at the Ogdensburg Public Library, 3:00 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. There is no charge for this Battle of Ogdensburg Weekend event, part of the River Shiver winter festival.
“We invited Bryan Thompson to speak about Benedict because Bryan knows more about the War of 1812 in the North Country than most people can imagine,” said Tim Cryderman, Vice President to Forsyth’s Rifles. “Brigadier-General Benedict, who dedicated his life to public service in St. Lawrence County, deserves to be remembered.”
Thompson, the municipal historian for the Town of De Kalb, is a retired teacher. Interestingly, as we enter into the bicentennial of the War of 1812, he is the descendant of at least four St. Lawrence County veterans of that long-ago conflict.
“Bryan Thompson received New York State Archives Hackman Research Fellowship to research General Benedict and other War of 1812 soldiers from De Kalb,” noted Mr. Cryderman. “For almost 20 years he has chronicled local history in 30 published articles and given many presentations.”
In 2009 Thompson received the Bruce W. Dearstyne Award for excellence in educational use of local government records (Dearstyne is a regular contributor here at New York History). The Battle of Ogdensburg Weekend includes re-enacted battles on Lighthouse Point at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 and Sunday Feb. 26. Saturday events include a 10:00 a.m. wreath ceremony at Sheriff York’s grave in Riverside Cemetery and the Winter Ball (English Country Dancing) at Centennial Towers at 7:30 p.m.
Sheriff York and his men faced the British alone on Feb. 22. 1813. They fired a brass six-pounder at the invaders. When his men fled, York remained alone serving his gun. A British officer said to his soldiers, “There stands too brave a man to shoot.” York was taken prisoner.
Illustration: Map of Ogdensburg during the War of 1812 from Benjamin Lossing’s Field Book of the War of 1812.
The Fort La Presentation Association’s fourth annual War of 1812 Symposium in Ogdensburg, NY April 27-28, 2012 marks a milestone in local War of 1812 bicentennial commemorations.
Seven of eight expert speakers equally divided between Canada and the United States are confirmed. They are coming from Chicago, Plattsburgh, Canton, Ottawa, Kingston and Niagara-on-the-Lake, to present seminars on campaigns and battles, Native allies, archaeology, artifact conservation, medical practices, research challenges and more. The symposium will again be hosted by the Freight House Restaurant at 20 Market Street in Ogdensburg. The seminars will be held in the banquet hall. Other rooms will be used for book signings and exhibits from regional museums and heritage organizations.
The cost of the symposium remains the same as last year at a maximum of $110 to as low as $10 for the Friday evening meet-and-greet alone. Members of Forsyth’s Rifles and the Canadian Friends of Fort de La Presentation will pay the same rathttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gife as Fort Association members.
Students will get a 50 percent discount. However, they must pay the member’s rate in advance and receive their cash discount on arrival at the symposium with photo ID.
Two of the historians featured in the recent PBS production, “The War of 1812,” are giving seminars at the symposium. Four other historians who appeared in the production have presented at previous symposia.
Registration is online through PayPal or by mail with a check enclosed. Information is available at www.fort1749.org.
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 Presentation, 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 Levis downriver on Ile Royal, now Chimney Island. La Presentation was a wooden stockade- Levis 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 Presentation. The battle continued with the successful, weeklong siege of Fort Levis. 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 Presentation 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.
During the War of 1812 the dogs of war barked and bit along the U.S. northern frontier from Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain as American forces tangled with their British and Canadian counterparts for two-and-a-half years. The War of 1812 in this region, and its wider implications, will be topics at the third annual War of 1812 Symposium April 29-30 in Ogdensburg, NY, sponsored by the Fort La Presentation Association. The five presentations by authoritative Canadians and Americans are: Ogdensburg and Prescott during the War of 1812, Paul Fortier- American supply efforts on Lake Ontario: “Cooper’s Ark,” Richard Palmer- “Colonel Louis” and the Native American role in the War of 1812, Darren Bonaparte- The war on the St. Lawrence River, Victor Suthren- and Excavation of American Graves at the 1812 Burlington Cantonment, Kate Kenny. The post-dinner address by Patrick Wilder is the Battle of Sackets Harbor “We established the symposium in advance of the war’s 2012 bicentennial to help develop a broader public understanding of the War of 1812, so important to the evolution of the United States and Canada,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Presentation Association. “The annual symposium is a vibrant forum of scholars from both sides of the boarder presenting informative seminars to an enthusiastic audience of academics, history buffs and re-enactors.”
The cost of the symposium is $100 for the Saturday seminars and after-dinner speaker, including a light continental breakfast, a buffet lunch and a sit-down dinner. The Friday evening meet-and-greet with period entertainment by Celtic harpist Sue Croft and hors d’oeuvres is $10.
The symposium and dinner fee for Fort La Presentation Association members is $90, and they will pay $10 for the meet-and-greet.
Other pricing options are available: $80 for the Saturday seminars without dinner- and $35 for the dinner with speaker.
Seminar details and registration instructions on the Fort La Presentation Association webpage.
The Freight House Restaurant in Ogdensburg will host the symposium, as it has in previous years.
The Fort La Presentation Association is a not-for-profit corporation based in Ogdensburg, New York. Its mission is to sponsor or benefit the historically accurate reconstruction of Fort de la Presentation (1749) in close proximity to the original site on Lighthouse Point.
Darren Bonaparte from the Mohawk community of Ahkwesahsne on the St. Lawrence River is an historical journalist. He created the Wampum Chronicles website in 1999 to promote his research into the history and culture of the Rotinonhsion:ni—the People of the Longhouse. Mr. Bonaparte has been published by Indian Country Today, Native Americas, Aboriginal Voices and Winds of Change, and he has served as an historical consultant for the PBS miniseries The War That Made America- Champlain: The Lake Between- and The Forgotten War: The Struggle for North America.
Paul Fortier, of Kingston, ON, worked 10 years as a military curator and historian for Parks Canada and a following 10 years as a manager at the National Archives of Canada. While living in Prescott, ON, the home he restored was the Stockade Barracks, British military headquarters on the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812. Mr. Fortier is a founder of the re-enacted Regiment of Canadian Fencible Infantry. He owns Jessup Food & Heritage, providing period food services at Upper Canada Village, Fort Henry and Fort York.
Kate Kenney is the Program Historian at the University of Vermont Consulting Archeology Program. She supervises historic artifact analysis and also helps supervise field work, particularly at historic sites. She is the senior author of Archaeological Investigations at the Old Burial Ground, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Ms. Kenny has organized and conducted UVM CAP public outreach, including presentations to elementary and high school students. Personal research projects involve Vermont history from the earliest settlement through to the Civil War.
Richard F. Palmer of Syracuse is a senior editor of “Inland Seas,” the quarterly of the Great Lakes Historical Society, and has written some 40 articles for the publication, covering more than 250 years of Lake Ontario’s maritime history. His presentation on “Cooper’s Ark,” is the story of a short-lived floating fortress built in Oswego during the War of 1812, but lost in a storm while sailing to Sackets Harbor. He’ll also recount the attempt to raft lumber for the construction of ships from Oak Orchard to Sackets Harbor- the delivery was intercepted by the British.
Victor Suthren, from Merrickville, Ontario, is an author and historian. He served as Director General of the Canadian War Museum from 1986 to 1998, and is an Honorary Captain in the Canadian Navy and advisor to the Directorate of Naval History and Heritage, Department of National Defence (Canada). He has worked as an advisor to film and television productions and has voyaged extensively as a seaman in traditional “tall ships.” Mr. Suthren has published several works of historical non-fiction, as well as two series of historical sea fiction.
Patrick Wilder is an historian retired from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He is the author of The Battle of Sackett’s Harbour, 1813.
Photo: Canadian Fencibles Colours, courtesy Fort La Presentation Association.
The Fort La Presentation Association’s historic Fort de la Presentation property on Lighthouse Point, already listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places, will soon join the seven Ogdensburg sites recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office has helped move the Fort Association’s application forward, and her office reports the Fort historic site on Lighthouse Point should be on the Federal Register soon. “Fort de la Presentation, one of the historic jewels in New York State, once played a vital role in the formation of our nation. Once fully restored, the Fort has the potential to attract thousands of tourists, which will help stimulate the region’s economy through new development and job creation,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “As New York’s first Senator from Upstate in nearly 40 years, I am proud to support the restoration of this beautiful, historic site. Thanks to the work of the Fort La Presentation Association, New Yorkers will soon be able to enjoy this landmark restored to its former glory.”
“The Fort Association is grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her staunch backing of the Fort Project and the assistance of her office to have the Fort’s location listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with Ogdensburg’s registered heritage sites,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Presentation Association. “Becoming an acknowledged member of this distinguished group will positively impact our work toward building our Interpretive Center. The recognized historical importance of our property gives us credibility among potential donors as we continue planning to build Fort de la Presentation.”
From the mid-18th century to the early 19th century the fort at the mouth of Oswegatchie River, under French, British and American flags, influenced the development of Ogdensburg and its role in the history of the United States.
“In addition to honoring the City’s place in American, Canadian, and Native histories, placement of these lands on the National Register of Historic Places positions the Fort La Presentation Association to use the site to continue to play an important role contributing to the development of historic tourism and local hospitality businesses, as well as the overall growth of our local economy,” said Ogdensburg City Manager Arthur J. Sciorra.
The Acker and Evans Law Office, New York State Armory, Ogdensburg Armory, Oswegatchie Pumping Station, U.S. Customs House, U.S. Post Office, and Library Park Historic District have met the criteria to be worthy of federal recognition and preservation because of their links to American history.
Until the building of the Interpretive Center and Fort de la Presentation, the interpreted site on Lighthouse Point will attract tourists who would not usually venture this way and indicate to residents the significance of their community’s history.
Between $250,000 and $500,000 was injected into the regional economy by the Fort La Presentation Association’s Founder’s Day Weekend, July 16-18, 2010, according to Association President Barbara O’Keefe. The financial impact was made by the 3,000 visitors and 700 re-enactors who came to Ogdensburg to commemorate the last Battle of the French and Indian War.
In an exit survey conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday, visitors were asked to estimate their expenditures related to the event in terms of transportation, meals and beverages, accommodation, and all other expenses. Harold G. Needham, a consultant to the Fort La Presentation Association, designed the survey, analyzed the data and wrote the report. He took a very conservative approach. Needham disregarded the high-end estimates of the dollar value in each expenditure range selected by respondents- he also disregarded estimates exceeding 50 percent of the dollar range selected by respondents in each expenditure category.
“I deliberately undervalued event organizers’ estimates of numbers of visitors and gave a zero value to the estimates of people who didn’t respond to the economic impact questions in the survey,” Needham said. “I believe my estimated range of total expenditures errs, if at all, in underestimating the economic impact of the event.”
As to the infusion of visitors’ cash Needham wrote, “While most of this would have been spent in the immediate area, some of it impacted on the economy elsewhere in the state and nation, and a very small part in adjacent areas of Canada.”
The survey did not ask about money spent on groceries, but found from $75,000 to $150,000 was spent on meals and beverages and $31,000 to $63,000 on accommodation. Visitors’ transportation expenses infused between $68,000 and $136,000 and from $77,000 to $154,000 flowed into all other expenses.
“As the Founder’s Day Weekend re-enactment and colonial trade fair has grown over the years, we have assumed a significant amount of money is spent locally by the visitors and re-enactors,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Presentation Association. “We decided this year, when we hosted New York State’s final 250th anniversary commemoration of the French and Indian War, would be a good opportunity to gauge the potential economic impact of this tourist-focused event, and we have been pleasantly surprised.”
This is the second survey conducted for the Fort Association to get a profile of the visitors and their responses to Founder’s Day Weekend activities. However, this is the first look at what the weekend can pump into the economy.
“We know people spent money getting here. Some traveled lengthy distances to get to our re-enactment and colonial trade fair, and some who were here to visit family took in the event,” said O’Keefe. “Regardless, local motels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants and other business saw trade directly linked to Founder’s Day Weekend, and we are very pleased to have helped contribute to their bottom lines.”
Re-enactors and others who brought the mid-18th century to life put their dollars into the local economy. They arrived in Ogdensburg one, two or more days before the Friday opening and some did not leave until Monday.
In addition, St. Lawrence County and the City of Ogdensburg benefit from their share of the sales tax collected by local merchants.
As of the end of September 2010, the financial statements of the Fort La Presentation Association indicate almost $59,000 had been spent in the local economy on the event. When bills yet to be received are paid, the total will rise to at least $60,000, giving the event a total economic impact of between $300,000 and $550,000
“The major events hosted by the Fort translate into enough additional business for our restaurant that we can do improvements that we otherwise could not afford,” said Deb Janson, owner of the Freight House Restaurant. “The Fort brings in the additional customer base that establishments like ours really need to move ahead.”
Of the visitors to Founder’s Day Weekend, 61.7 percent live in St. Lawrence County and another 18.9 percent elsewhere in New York State- 11.7 percent came from other U.S. states and 7.6 percent from Canada.
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 Presentation 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.