By John LeVatte
Perth and District Chamber of Commerce
The War of 1812 – a two-and-a-half-year struggle pitting the British Military against armies of the United States – did more to create Canada and its people than virtually any other period or event in our history.
According to historians, in what was then Upper and Lower Canada, British military victories over invading American armies became iconic and promoted the development of a distinct Canadian identity, which included strong loyalty to Britain.
Today, particularly in Ontario, memory of the war retains its significance because the defeat of the invasions ensured that the Canadas would remain part of the British Empire, rather than be annexed by the United States.
Following the war, peacetime brought an abundance of good will from King George III.
In December 1814, royal assent was granted to a plan proposed by Henry, Lord Bathurst, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, to grant “waste lands” in the Canadas to discharged soldiers. In February 1815 Lord Bathurst’s plan was extended to include civilians, offering “liberal encouragement by His Majesty’s government to settlers inclined to proceed from Great Britain and Ireland, and provision by vessels, etc., for their passage to Quebec with their families”.
It was through this Proclamation that the Perth Military Settlement – including modern-day Beckwith, Tay Valley and Drummond-North Elmsley Townships and the Town of Perth – was founded.
In 2016, the communities that make up that original footprint of the Military Settlement will launch a year-long celebration highlighting the history of those brave, original settlers while celebrating how far we have come since those early days.
In Tay Valley, plans are well underway for a number of special events and celebrations that are sure to offer something for everyone.
One of the major efforts involves the creation of a commemorative calendar created by the very talented Annie Dalton and featuring a diverse and visually stunning set of period postcards. The calendar should be available for sale in July.
In addition, the Township will launch “At Home in Tay Valley” a book celebrating the township’s history. Special events will include a Tay Bells Winter Celebration and the Settler Heritage Days and Lanark County Plowing Match. Details of these events, the calendar and “At Home in Tay Valley” can be found at http://www.tayvalleytwp.ca/en/discover-tay-valley/200th-anniversary-celebrations.asp
The Town of Perth is also gearing up for a number of significant and special events – 200 of them in fact – to mark 2016. Signature events will include a Fire and Ice winter party, the Ontario Town Crier Championships and the Blast from the Past Homecoming Weekend. All the details are available at www.perth200.ca
Work has also begun in earnest on special events and celebrations in Drummond-North Elmsley and Beckwith Townships. Watch for details of their events in our next column.
Each month leading up to the 200th Anniversary and throughout 2016, John LeVatte of the Perth and District Chamber of Commerce will write a column highlighting some of the event planning and celebrations as well as a glimpse of the history of the Perth Military Settlement. Stay tuned….