candlelight tours

Fort Malden Heritage Fair a combination of recent events

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada presented its first “Heritage Fair” last weekend, but it was a combination of events that people have experienced before.

The event saw military re-enactors and encampments, a “trade zone” with blacksmiths and potters, cannon firings, entertainment and more with interpretation officer Alex Dale noting they tried to fit in a cultural theme as well.

Dale noted that Fort Malden has held Military Heritage Days for over two decades and there was an aspect of that in the two-day Heritage Fair. There was also a display from Mark McGuire and his antique bicycles and a steam engine from the Essex County Steam & Gas Engine Museum.

Joelle and Brynn Goegebeur from the Canadian Great War Society were at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada’s Heritage Fair the weekend of Sept. 29-30.

“What we decided to do is to expand it to include culture and heritage,” he said. “We’ve invited several museums and cultural organizations.”

Many Amherstburg museums were invited along with the local cadet corps and United Empire Loyalists with other museums and organizations from around Essex County also invited. Dale said that was a hit with teachers, as there was an education day last Friday with over 200 students. The teachers enjoyed the fact that students could experience a number of different museums all in one place, Dale added.

Dale explained that they usually do these events in August but when the “Rendezvouz” event was held last year, Fort Malden decided to keep it in September as part of the Culture Days weekend.

“It’s an event where we’ve taken a number of events and kind of combined them,” Dale said of the Heritage Fair. “It is a good opportunity to bring local heritage groups together.”

A number of Fort Malden programs were also offered from the cookhouse to the barracks, he noted, but added they are always looking to do new projects and events. He noted the Escape Room Festival as an example of a new way of attracting the public to Fort Malden.

Tina Ferrari takes aim during an archery demonstration as part of Fort Malden’s Heritage Fair Sept. 29.

The next event at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada is the Candlelight Tours. That event is scheduled for Oct. 13 with tours running at 6 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:15 p.m. and 9 p.m. Advance registration is required.  For tickets, please call Fort Malden at 519-736-5416, or e-mail ont.fort-malden@pc.gc.ca. Cost is $12.10 per person.

The House Youth Centre is bringing its “Haunted House” back to Fort Malden Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27 from 6:30-10 p.m. each night with the last admission being 9:40 p.m. That event features spooky scenes by local students and is a fundraiser for the House Youth Centre. No pre-registration is required for the House Youth Centre “Haunted House” as tickets are sold at the door. Tickets are $9.80 with half of the proceeds going to The House.

For more information on Fort Malden or its programming, visit www.parkscanada.ca/malden.

 

 

Candlelight tours showcase Fort Malden in new “light”

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

Guests had a chance to see Fort Malden by candlelight Saturday evening, a new tour idea, which their interpretation officer hopes will continue.

“We decided to do the candlelight tour this year to really showcase some of the evening stories of the history of The Fort,” explained Alex Dale, interpretation officer at Fort Malden Historic Site. “Not just the military history but some of the other stories, from the lunatic asylum period, to the establishment of the historic site itself, a lot of the stories that we really don’t talk about during the day. We focus more on the actions and the battles and events of the War of 1812 or the Rebellions of 1837 and the daily lifestyle of the soldiers, we don’t really talk about a lot of the evening aspects.”

Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada offered a candlelight tour last Saturday night. Their next event is this week’s Haunted Fort, run in conjunction with the House Youth Centre.

Dale explained, the tour didn’t just involve storytelling but there were even re-enactors on the grounds in period uniforms playing games, cooking in the cookhouse, and on guard duty. He said it’s very different from what they’re doing next week, which is the Haunted House Tours with The House Youth Centre. While that is more of a spooky, jump out at you sort of thing, this weekend’s events were more educational while still casting a new “light” on the stories of Fort Malden.

One of the stories Dale shared was the mass desertion of soldiers from the 89th regiment. He explained, soldiers were on guard duty, which was a standard, 24-hour shift. Their job was two-fold – to watch out for anybody who might be approaching The Fort and also to try to stop any soldiers who might desire to run away from deserting.

“Little did anybody think the guards themselves would be doing the deserting,” Dale said.

At quarter to one in the morning Feb. 24, one of the guards, shouted “all is well.” It was repeated all the way along. Then the next 15-minute interval he shouted “all is well” and there was nothing. There was no return, so he then shouted “all is not well” and the sergeant of the guard came running. A total of 12 soldiers had deserted that night, and as far as they have found with any documents they have tried to research, they were never found.

“I enjoy storytelling,” said Dale. “It’s my passion, as an interpreter. It also helps me with my own learning and my own passion in historical research because now I can find other stories and share them in a different light than some of the more normal stories we tell. For me it’s a new and exciting, and fairly enjoyable event. I’m hoping that it’s something we can carry on and do in the future as well.”