Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada

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.

 

 

Thousands attend Art by the River

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The 52nd annual Art by the River got off to a wet start but recovered nicely as the weekend went on.

The show, the largest fundraiser of the year for the Gibson Gallery, reported to have about 2,000 fewer people than last year due to early weather woes.

Saturday morning wasn’t ideal for Art by the River due to rain and wind, but things turned around by afternoon with crowds coming through to enjoy the over 150 artists and crafters that turned out to Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.

However, according to Gibson Gallery board member and office administrator Bonnie Deslippe, the foul weather early on still didn’t stop some from attending.

“We had people lining up to come in,” said Deslippe.

People were coming through with umbrellas, she added, even though some crafters and artists were still in their tents.

Maria Jose paints a portrait during Art by the River last Saturday.

“I think there are people who really look forward to this every year,” she said.

The venue and the fact there are some one-of-a-kind items lends to the success of Art by the River, Deslippe added.

The only damage from the Saturday morning storm was pottery that was broken at one of the tents while another tent at the “Little Artists Workshop” blew away.

“We are still tired but very happy with the way the weekend turned out and are already planning next year,” said Deslippe. “A huge thankyou to all our dedicated volunteers. The event would not be possible without them and the support of the town and staff of Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.”

Local author John Schlarbaum was attending again this year, in what is the tenth anniversary of the release of his book “Barry Jones’ Cold Dinner.” He had many of his other titles marked down to either $5 or $10 to mark the occasion.

“Unfortunately, it’s the one book that’s sold out,” he said.

Schlarbaum said he has been working to record a song that he wrote several years ago and is also trying to get his novella “Aging Gracefully Together” in production as a play.

“My hope is to get a local theatre group to put it on in the future,” he said.

Calista Papaefthimiou compete in the live art competition.

Schlarbaum states he is also in the early stages of a new book project involving his P.I Steve Cassidy character.

Art by the River is enjoyable, Schlarbaum added, as he said he meets people that he has seen there and at other shows.

“I end up meeting a lot of fans and new readers who hopefully enjoy the books,” he said.

Ross Stuart of Kingston entertained on the ukuleles he made. He said it was either his third or fourth year at Art by the River.

“It’s a great place to be,” he said. “The people are fabulous. The town is great.

The 52nd annual Art by the River was held Aug. 25-26 at Fort Malden National Historic Site. Char Pare of Amherstburg shows some of her work.

 

Stuart said he has been making his instruments for 12 years. He travels to this part of Ontario twice per year with the other stop being Art in the Park in Windsor.  He said it makes sense to do the same shows as people who thought about it or tried his instruments often come back to buy the next time they see him.

“Each piece is unique,” he said.

Stuart added he makes his instruments in groups and calls it “a labour of love.”

Dan St. Pierre and wife Carol of Amherstburg attended and created some of their “Miracle Magnets” magnetic therapy jewellery.

“We’ve been doing this since 2004,” said Dan. “When we got started, friends of ours picked up the methods in Texas and brought it up here.”

Dan explained that they make the jewellery themselves and that they ship as far as Kincardine and Ohio.

“We enjoy doing it. We love it,” he said, adding that people drop by their booth at Art by the River “just to say hello.” They have made friends at craft shows and renew old friendships.

Dan added that they’ve noticed that Art by the River doesn’t let just anyone in as a vendor.

Crowds go through Fort Malden National Historic Site during Art by the River.

“They want the best and it shows,” he said.

Char Pare of Amherstburg said it was her seventh Art by the River and she doesn’t do any other show.

“I think the quality of the show is extremely high,” she said. There is talent when going from tent-to-tent and “I think it’s encouraging to people.”

Calista Papaefthimiou and Trinity Hallett were two of the students competing against other students in a live art competition even during the storm. The duo, representing Sandwich Secondary School, came in third place behind Kaitie Lessard and Sallma Majthoub of St. Clair College and Wayne State University respectively and Sophia Fallea and Mandy Brunet of St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School Emily Roe and Laura Fontaine of the University of Windsor were honorable mentions.

“It’s cool,” said Papa, “to paint in those conditions.”

For additional photos, view our photo album.

Amherstburg celebrates Canada’s 151st birthday

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

A sea of red and white swarmed Amherstburg’s downtown core last Sunday to take part in the town’s annual Canada Day festivities.

The celebration was split between Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada and the Treats N’ Eats festival at Austin “Toddy” Jones Park.

The day kicked off with more than 2,000 runners streaming through the streets in the Canada D’Eh five kilometre run and concluded with a shoreline packed with onlookers enjoying the annual fireworks display.

In an address to festivalgoers at the start of the day, Amherstburg mayor Aldo DiCarlo thanked some of those responsible for putting on the massive festival.

Fireworks explode over the Detroit River as thousands watch from the shoreline during Canada Day celebrations
Sunday night in Amherstburg.

“First, I’d like to recognize the members of council here today,” he said.  “I’d like to thank all the town employees who worked quietly behind the scenes to ensure the day goes off without a hitch.  Primarily, but not entirely, these are the people in the tourism department, the parks department and, this year, to keep things cool, even the fire department joined in to spray down the runners this morning.  This event wouldn’t even get started without their dedication.

“Second, I’d like to thank the staff of Fort Malden for providing us with the most beautiful backdrop in the region.

“Third, I’d like to thank Chris and Debbie Uszynski and their team at RunningFlat for kicking off the day’s festivities.  Year after year they spend the day before setting up and then spend most of Canada Day tearing down.  We are very fortunate that they have kept this event in Amherstburg, as I can’t imagine Canada Day without the Canada D’Eh Run.

“Of course, we also have to thank the day’s volunteers.  It takes a great many people to put on this event and many of them are doing it for nothing.  At least, nothing but knowing they are doing their community a great service, which is the biggest reason we are so grateful.”

DiCarlo went on to name a long list of people involved in the day’s events by name, lauded the spirit of the town and expressed his best wishes for Amherstburg’s visitors before handing the mic over to Essex Member of Parliament Tracey Ramsey.

Ramsey took a different note in her address.

Stefan Coutu of Windsor plays Quidditch with his grandmother, Beth Dubeault.

She began by recounting her attendance at a citizenship ceremony earlier in the day.

“I stood proudly beside them and took that oath,” she said.  “Take a chance today as a family or by yourself to say that oath, to reaffirm your oath to Canada and the commitment that we have to our beautiful country.”

Ramsey went on to ask her listeners to “show (their) patriotism” through their purchasing power.  Canada returned fire last week in the so-called trade war the United States began by slapping duties on Canadian goods such as aluminum and steel.  Ottawa announced financial aid packages for affected Canadian industries and put its own tariffs in place amounting to $16.6 billion.

Rebecca Mickle sings as part of the Canada Day celebrations held at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada.

The dispute has brought out increasingly nationalist tones in Canada’s politicians, as well as declarations of solidarity with Canadian industry.  On the same day Ramsey spoke at Fort Malden, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Leamington.

Southwestern Ontario is an area that will be particularly affected by the ongoing trade dispute, since its industries use and manufacture items that are being heavily taxed.

Ramsey said the Canada Day celebrations mark an opportunity for Canadians to make a change.

“Over this next year, I challenge us all to support one another and buy Canadian,” she said.

 

 

First-ever Escape Room Festival held at Fort Malden National Historic Site

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada has held its first escape room festival.

The festival featured eight escape rooms – interactive, narrative-based puzzle rooms – and participants were allowed to pick five to escape from.

Fort Malden interpretation officer Alex Dale organized the event and he said he had wanted to expand the escape rooms already offered by Fort Malden but wasn’t sure how to do it without disrupting the historic site’s other programs.  He said the best course of action seemed to be to simply “have a day of fun” and bring the area’s escape room aficionados together all at once.

Dale put together some all-new escape rooms with help from his staff.  He said creating the puzzles for the rooms is challenging but rewarding.

“I like to keep things tactile,” he said.  “I want to engage people by forcing them to interact with their environments.”

Dale also brought in three professional escape room companies to plan and operate four of the eight offered at the event.  Hidden Trail Escape Room, Breakout Kingsville and Exodus Windsor Escape Room showed up, riddles in hand, to confound the day’s parkgoers.

Dustin Vermast is one of the co-owners of Breakout Kingsville.  His room, specially created for the day by managing director Adam Cole, brought participants into the tent of a mid-1920s era traveling magician.

Eventgoers were promised a magic show, but the magician, Mr. Hocus, was nowhere to be found. In his place was a letter promising access to his magical secrets – and a future of riches and renown – if whomever found his letter could solve his puzzles and open his chest.

Christopher Slickboer tries to figure out the combination on a lock in Breakout Kingsville’s escape room at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada last Saturday. The escape room was one of eight at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada’s first escape room festival.

Unfortunately for those who are proficient at puzzle-solving, Mr. Hocus is a dark magician.  The only things in his chest were pieces of evidence that incriminated whomever touched them.

Those who beat the puzzles lost the game.

The tent Vermast brought to Fort Malden is one piece of a larger narrative, according to Cole.  Mr. Hocus has two other rooms dedicated to him at Breakout Kingsville’s actual facility.

For Cole, this room was an opportunity to further explore the character he has built a universe around.  Hocus’ newspaper clippings, the photos on his armoire, his knickknacks and decorations and personal effects – even his choice of music – all said something about the man Breakout Kingsville dreamed up while fully-immersing the player into that dream.

For Vermast, as much as it was about the art of expanding an ongoing narrative universe, it was also about breaking into a new market.

“We’re here as a bit of a marketing piece,” he said.  “We want to educate the public about how awesome escape rooms are and, as a county business, it’s important that we draw on the Windsor folks who are here today.”

It seemed to be working.  Dale said the public response was “overwhelmingly positive.”  All 46 time slots were sold out.  He said he wants to have another festival in the future and will use this one as a learning experience.

“This was a pilot,” he said.  “There were a few logistical issues to iron out, but we’ll learn from those and will hopefully make this an even bigger festival next year.”

Fort Malden will host its annual Canada Day celebration on July 1.  Its “free admission day” will take place Aug. 4, with a murder mystery following that evening.

Escape Room Festival coming to Fort Malden this Saturday

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada is hosting its first-ever Escape Room Festival this Saturday.

Fort Malden and Parks Canada want to know “Are you the sharpest tool in the shed? When the clock is ticking, can you decipher the clues to solve the puzzles and escape in time? Can you escape from one room? Can you escape from five?!”

Escape rooms are described on Fort Malden’s website as “a physical and mental adventure game” where “players must solve a time-limited series of challenging puzzles and riddles to escape the room. Players must escape the room before time runs out – and time matters!”

Those up to the challenge of solving multiple escape rooms can go to Fort Malden between 10 a.m.-8 p.m. with the cost being $34.50 per person for five escape room experiences. It is an all ages event.

Teams of six will have 15 minutes to solve the clues and escape the room.

Participants will have the opportunity to win door prizes and vote for the People’s Choice Award for “Best of the Festival.”

Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada is holding an Escape Room Festival June 16. (Photo courtesy of Fort Malden’s website)

Mobile escape rooms from across Windsor-Essex County will be at Fort Malden and the public is invited to bring friends and solve as many of the escape rooms as they can.

Advanced registration is underway and to register, please phone Fort Malden National Historic Site at 519-736-5416. You will be asked to select your top five escape rooms and Parks Canada states that teams of two to six are asked to register together.

Staff will do their best to match the public with their selections.

There are a limited number of spots available, first come, first served.

Escape rooms include “Confined to the Barracks (presented by Fort Malden National Historic Site), “Cottage Fever” (presented by Fort Malden National Historic Site), “Disarm the Bomb” (presented by Hidden Trail Escape Room), “Legend of Hocus” (presented by Breakout Kingsville), “Recipe for Escape” (presented by Fort Malden National Historic Site), “Skullduggery in the Scullery” (presented by Exodus Windsor Escape Rooms), “The Cell” (presented by Hidden Trail Escape Room) and “The General’s Last Word” (presented by Fort Malden National Historic Site).

Local food trucks will be on hand as well while The Friends of Fort Malden will be presenting a “beer garden” to visitors that are 19 years of age or older.

There will also be musical entertainment by Rob Bondy and Endadaday, Allison Brown, Sara Fontaine and Hogarth, Hoppe & Borshuk with guest Phil Kasurak.

For more information, call Fort Malden National Historic Site at 519-736-5416, e-mail ont.fort-malden@pc.gc.ca or visit www.parkscanada.gc.ca/malden.