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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Weather holds out for War of 1812 Encampment

by Sylene Argent  

Canon fire, story telling, and encampment visiting helped visitors to the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum’s annual War of 1812 Encampment on Saturday to learn about the past through a hands-on experience.

  Victoria Beaulieu, Museum Curator, said this year’s installment of the program, which has become a local tradition, was quiet compared to past events. This was expected as this year’s event was scaled back so volunteers could have the opportunity rebuild the program for the future.

  Reenactors and visitors to the Museum still had plenty of opportunity to enjoy everything offered onsite and to learn about local history of the early 1800s. Some of the reenactors got involved for the first time or even provided a topic to share with their listening audience, through an educational speech.

  “It is important we keep doing it,” Beaulieu said of the annual event. “Next year, we will be back to full swing. The kids love it. It is a great day to learn history.”

  The Friday of the event is typically reserved as an education day for area students. This year, however, due to the rebuild, an achievement day for the Junior Historical Society was hosted instead.

  “It was a lot of fun. They made lunch, three sister soup, a Native soup with corn, beans, and squash, and learned about the legend of the soup,” Beaulieu said, adding the participants also enjoyed a roast beef stew.

  The youth had the opportunity to study Indigenous history, enjoy watching a cannon firing, learn about blacksmithing, and they made rope, including a long piece they later used to play tug-of-war.   

  Donations forwarded to the Maidstone Bicentennial Museum during the encampment were greatly accepted and will be used to cover the cost of the event and for general maintenance of the facility, which is located on Puce Road.

  Kim Lundberg of London was one of the reenactors onsite, who taught visitors about the Mohawk.

  Lundberg has been a reenactor for 18 years. He was introduced to the past from his dad, who was a lover of history. He enjoys taking part in re-enactments. He sees it as an opportunity to teach what he knows and to learn from others, whether it is historical facts or tips on how to create items, like moccasins.

  Lundberg was given a lot of the Mohawk oral history from an individual who was taught that oral history in its entity when in his youth.

  “He spent a lot of time talking to me about that,” he said, though he considers the version he knows as the “Reader’s Digest version” as the history is so immense.

  “What I like to talk about when talking to an audience about the oral history is how it pertains to today, because if we don’t learn from history, you know history repeats itself.”

  A message he likes to send to his listeners is that, “We are all on this planet together. We have to look after it. We have shared problems. We have to talk about the issues.” He added that one of those issues, for instance, is that there is no excuse to pollute rivers and lakes.

   The Maidstone Bicentennial Museum will take on two summer students over the next few months, which will allow the doors to be open to the public from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. during the months of May, June, and July. 

The students will help archive items, provide tours to guests, and work in the native garden onsite.

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