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Cannon balls and muskets among artifacts at history session
Dan Laroche, the manager of Fort George, walks guests through the history of the Battle of Fort George using artifacts. Somer Slobodian
Dan Laroche holds a 24-pound canon ball during last weeks Fireside Friday presentation. Somer Slobodian
A 24 pounder naval canister shot complete. Somer Slobodian
Guests look at artifacts used in the Battle of Fort George. Somer Slobodian
Jim Kish, left, sits with Ian Peer. Peer brought what he believes is Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock's button. Somer Slobodian

Fireside Friday presentations feature tales from War of 1812

 

What better way to commemorate the 210th anniversary of the Battle of Fort George than through artifacts?

Last Friday, about 40 people packed Navy Hall for a sold-out Fireside Friday presentation hosted by Parks Canada and the Friends of Fort George.

Tables lined both sides of the room, each displaying a unique artifact from the Battle of Fort George to be used to tell the battle’s story.

“(The) idea of this is that people can sit down at their tables and can touch whatever is out,” Dan Laroche, the manager of Fort George, told The Lake Report. 

Laroche was dressed as Fort Maj. Donald Campbell. He wore a red wool coat with blue facings and gold buttons. 

“The actual destruction of the fort was the first part of the battle. These are the things that would have been fired at us,” Laroche said as he held up a large, round 24-pound shot. 

The one he was holding is slightly larger than the actual 18-pound shots used by the Americans.

The cannon balls would be put into a hot shot furnace and soldiers would “heat these things up red hot,” said Laroche.

When fired, it “leaves the barrel going about 1,000 feet per second,” he said. 

When he dropped it to the wood floor, a loud thud echoed around the room. 

“That would certainly redecorate your house quite nicely,” he said. 

The shots would come crashing into the buildings in the fort, setting everything ablaze. 

Other artifacts on display included an original pipe tomahawk used by Indigenous soldiers, an Indigenous trade musket from the NOTL Museum and a surgeon’s field kit, to name a few.

Ian Peer and Jim Kish sat at a table with two American Springfield Muskets laid out in front of them. 

Peer enjoyed the presentation, listening intently to every word. 

However, he also came for another reason — to show off his own piece of history.

He has an old button he believes belonged to Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock that he inherited from his father, Dr. Edgar Peer. 

“My father has probably had it for 25 years. I’ve had it for another five,” said Peer. 

His father was given the button in the early 1960s by one of his patients. It was from a tunic that was torn up by children who used it for their dolls. 

He brought it to the presentation in hopes of showing it to an expert and confirming that it actually belonged to Brock. 

“They couldn’t verify anything,” said Peer.

John MacLeod, the cultural resource adviser for the Niagara Region, advised Peer to take the button to a registered appraiser. 

He has already tried that but he’s going to look for someone who specializes in historical artifacts. 

“I guess I’m at the start of my journey,” he said. 

There’s a new Fireside Friday presentation every Friday throughout February. 

The next one, “A Grand Musical Experiment: Reconstructing the Band of the 41st,” is Feb. 10 at Navy Hall at 11 a.m. 

Tickets are $15.75 and can be bought at Friendsoffortgeorge.square.site/. Some sessions are already sold out.

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