Six Reasons to Visit the Historic St. Lawrence River this Summer

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The St. Lawrence War of 1812 Bicentennial Alliance is opening up a world of heritage possibilities this summer, with exciting Regency programming every weekend from June 14 to July 14, 2013, the St. Lawrence region is bringing history alive. Come for a weekend, but stay for the month.

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Canadians along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River are bringing the Regency period alive this summer – for an entire month. Below are six reasons why visitors should be part of our history:

1.) All Aboard

Beginning with the First Port of Call on the TALL SHIPS™ 1812 Tour, Brockville will come alive with the arrival of historic sailing vessels. Bringing the navy of the period alive, Brockville will recall its port history with rum, sailors and vivacious company June 14-16, 2013.

The TALL SHIPS® 1812 Tour is a Pan Provincial event that will travel throughout Ontario during the summer of 2013, commemorating the bicentennial for the War of 1812. 16 ports will participate in this event which is produced in partnership with the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes 2013.

13 ships and an array of historic vessels from the Clayton Boat Museum will all descend on historic Brockville - this is an event not to be missed!

2.) Build Character!

Don't just watch the action, be a part of it! The Spencerville Mill's Heritage Fair is a Regency wonderland, offering participatory workshops aimed at helping people experience history.

From June 21-23, enjoy workshops that take visitors back in time. Napoleonic aspirants are offered workshops on Duelling, Dying in Battle and What Honour Meant in 1812. For the Regency ladies, try Period Cooking or How to Become an Accomplished Lady.

The authors of Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion will be on hand to share first-hand knowledge of period clothing.

And the English Country Dance Weekend and Regency Ball in historic town hall are the social events of the season.

Help the quaint heritage village of Spencerville beat the Guinness World Record of the most people in Regency (and Napoleonic) period clothing.

3.) Enjoy Canadian Culture

Visit historic Homewood Museum, one of the oldest homes in Ontario, near Maitland. See the hull of a gun boat that patrolled the St. Lawrence during the War of 1812 at Fort Wellington in Prescott. Learn about the Battle of Crysler's Farm and pioneer life in the region at Upper Canada Village. Try firing a canon at a tall ship at Fort Henry's new discovery centre.

These are but a sampling of our region's museums and historic sites. From model tall ships to endless stone architecture, the St. Lawrence is a heritage gem.

The region is also close to major Canadian cities, making day trips to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto a breeze. By car or train, stay in the pristine Canadian scenery of the Thousand Islands, while seeing other parts of Canada too. Midway through our month of Regency Wonderland falls Canada Day - and Ottawa is less than an hour away.

4.) Follow a Flotilla

The Navy of 1812: Return to the King’s Port will feature a flotilla beginning at Kingston moving to Crysler’s Farm - with stops along the way at Gananoque, Rockport, Brockville and Prescott.

The Flotilla will bring to life the 1813 pursuit of General James Wilkinson’s American army by Lt Col Morrison’s detachments and the River Flotilla of Captain William Howe Mulcaster, RN.

The Flotilla will depart Kingston on July 8, arriving at Crysler's Farm on July 13.

5.) Court a Red Coat

Recreating the battle that saved Canada, the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Crysler's Farm will involve hundreds of re-enactors.

For those with Mrs. Bennett's mindset on soldiers ("I remember the time when I liked a red coat myself very well—and indeed, so I do still at my heart"), then the Battle of Crysler's Farm is their marriage market.

Wander the sprawling camps of British and American soldiers July 13-14 and enjoy the company of many a red coat.

Following a dusk battle re-enactment in Upper Canada Village, enjoy the Netherfield Country Ball (in honour of Pride & Prejudice) with gentleman in uniform.

6.) Take in the Arts

Opening July 13, the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival will launch a specially commissioned play. Maid for a Musket, a new comedy by Lucia Frangione, follows the antics of soldiers in 1813 Prescott.

Tasked with constructing Fort Wellington, the men swear off wine and women for a whole year in order to better themselves. Their plans are complicated with the arrival of some very attractive women.

The play is loosely based on Shakespeare's Love's Labours Lost, and combines laughter, history and song with fun for all the family.

Enjoy the St. Lawrence River as a backdrop in the festivals picturesque, open-air amphitheatre.

The St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival is but one of at least three performing arts festivals along the River, offering much entertainment for your month of Regency fun.

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Alicia Wanless
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