It’s all about “Pride”

By Joel Charron

Amherstburg residents watched in amazement as the Pride of Baltimore II arrived in Amherstburg with sails drawn and cannons firing.

“I got goose bumps as the ship began to dock,” said Tourism Officer Anne Rota.

The ship arrived Saturday afternoon and within hours, residents from all over Essex County arrived to catch a glimpse of the majestic tall ship. Once the ship was docked and the crew attended to minor maintenance, the Pride opened to the public.

Rota estimated that over 7,000 people walked aboard the Pride.

Jeremy Sligh and Amanda Kelly check out the Pride’s wheel during its tour on Saturday afternoon.

The ship is owned and operated by a Baltimore-based non-profit organization Pride of Baltimore Inc., and relies on private donations. It was built in 1988 as a reproduction of an 1812-era topsail schooner privateer.

The Pride’s visit to Amherstburg is a way to bring attention to the town’s bicentennial celebrations of the War of 1812.

“This is really a kickoff,” said Rota. “This just strengthens the ties between the U.S. and Canada.”

Rota believes that there is a certain aura that surrounds a ship like the Pride of Baltimore II.

“Tall ships are proven to be the number one attraction for anybody who is interested in history,” she explained. “It’s something about the majesty of a tall ship that catches people. It’s something about their size, the sail. When the Pride was coming in you could hear people saying they were becoming emotional.”

After discovering the Pride was conducting tours along the Great Lakes, Rota contacted the non-profit organization about coming to Amherstburg roughly two months ago.

“We are truly lucky to have such an attraction visit Amherstburg,” Rota said.

The ship’s captain, Jan Miles said he enjoys his job but states that there is a lot of work that goes into manning the Pride.

“There is a lot of privilege, authority, and responsibility that goes with a vessel of her style,” said Miles. “I’m very fortunate to be involved with this vessel.

Although this is the Pride’s first official stop in Amherstburg, according to Miles, this isn’t her first time in these waters.

“We’ve been to Amherstburg before on a more unofficial basis,” explained Miles. “We passed here in 1989, when she was just 23-years-old.”

Miles said the Pride has made stops all over the world such as, Ukraine, Russia, Japan Korea, Taiwan as well as west and east coast of Canada.

“This is probably her 11th time in the Great Lakes over the last 23 years,” said Miles.

Miles also mentioned that the mission of the Pride is to tell the Atlantic story of the War of 1812.

“It’s a much different story than here in the Great Lakes but it’s about the same general event,” said Miles. “We are very pleased and honoured to be able to come here and share our story with the events that took place in Amhersrburg.”

The crew of the Pride consists of 12 people from different sailing vessels around the United States.

In a touring season Miles said the Pride could travel over 10,000 nautical miles.

“We already travelled 6,000 nautical miles. By the times that we are done touring for the season we will be close to 9,000 or 10,000 nautical miles,” he said.

After touring the Pride, Amherstburg resident Bruce MacDonald was awe-struck.

“It’s simply magnificent,” he said. “I’m at a loss for words over her beauty. I can only imagine how amazing it would be to be on board when she is going full tilt.”

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