Fort Covington site commemorated with peace garden

 

By Joel Charron

As part of the War of 1812 trail, Fort Covington was designated as an 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden this past Saturday morning.

Fort Covington is located near the Amherstburg police station.

On Sept. 27, 1813, American General Harrison landed at Bar Point with a force of 3,000 men. Before proceeding to Fort Amherstburg (now know as Fort Malden) the men dug a traverse for shelter in fear of British advancement as a temporary fortification.

There, the men waited for battle, and named the fort after General Leonard Covington, an American commander in the War of 1812.

Up to 1960 the trenches were still visible, but with annual progress to the Town’s roadways and infrastructure they have been filled.

The peace garden not only acknowledges the encampment, but also reflects on a time when there was discord between two developing nations. Today, however Canada and the United States share a common bond of peace and the longest undefended border in the world.

Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture from the town said Saturday’s dedication is fitting because Oct. 13 has been declared Major General Sir Isaac Brock Day in the provincial legislature.

“Everything tied together very nicely,” said Rota.

Mayor Wayne Hurst said he was pleased to see people turn out for an important dedication.

A peace garden sits directly beside the police station, commemorating the Fort Covington site.

“It’s important to take the time to recognize our history,” said Hurst. “It’s one thing to know your history but it’s another to understand it.”

Hurst recalled Gord Zimmerman approaching him a few years ago about recognizing the Fort Covington site.

“Fort Covington has a long history in Amherstburg,” said Hurst. “It’s important that we understand this location played a key role in Canada becoming a country that we are proud of today.”

Hurst also mentioned that the garden will be cared for and maintained so future generations will be able to enjoy it.

Amherstburg Heritage Committee (AHC) member Robert Honor said the AHC didn’t have much to “go on” about Fort Covington, however after looking at notes and sketches made by David Bosford in the 1960’s the AHC was able to decide where the site actually was.

“Commemorating Fort Covington is a reminder of US occupation during the War of 1812,” said Honor. “It gives us something tangible in our community to tell that story.”

Honor also noted that it could also remind us that the War of 1812 ended in a very strange way from a European warfare perspective.

“Britain and the United States decided they didn’t want to fight about things anymore,” said Honor.   “Britain did not claim victory and the United State did not acknowledged defeat. There was no winner or loser, they just decided they did not want to fight anymore.”

Arlene White, executive director of the Bi-national movement said Rota contacted her in 2010 about having Amherstburg involved in the peace garden movement.

Fort Covington is the second peace garden to be dedicated in Amherstburg, the first being in Fort Malden. There are 24 peace gardens throughout Ontario.

“This is not a boring peace of our background,” said White. “This is something that we want to share with other people because it makes us remember the important and why we are here in the first place.”

White said the peace garden dedication began in 2008 at the request of art councils on both sides of the border.

“They wanted to make sure there was legacy project that commemorated 200 years of peace because they felt there were going to be a lot of people talking about the war and they didn’t want to get into the debate about who won the war and why it started in the first place,” explained White.

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