Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Timeline at Backus Page Museum

 This past weekend, my family and I participated in a "time-line" event at the Backus Page House Museum in Wallacetown, ON. A "time-line" event is a reenactment with representatives from various periods in history. This event was to cover 1750 to 1950. There were military and civilian reenactors from all along the length of the history outlined. There were also at least 3 other reenactments going on at the same time (Fort George, Crysler's Farm, and "Pyrate Days"), so some folks who might have attended were busy elsewhere. My wife said that we had to be in three places at once this past weekend.
Beth, Katie, and I camped with our dog (who came out with Katie for Saturday evening) and Kevin, Tina, and Kevin's children. Tents sprung up all over the property for the various groups. Nick came out for the day each day, but had a 1776-era surgeon's table set up on Saturday. Tyler came out for Saturday's events. The military reenactors took part in a rate of fire display, a military parade (read "fashion show"), and on Sunday, a special memorial service for the local people involved in the War of 1812 at St. Peter Anglican Church just up the road as well as honouring Lance Sergeant Ellis Sifton, a local man who was awarded the Victoria Cross (posthumously) for his bravery in the First World War.

(Photos courtesy of Beth, John Stephens, and Angela Foreman-Bobier)

Tyler and I watch Nick set up his table and lay out his surgeon's instruments.

The set up continues while John of the Royal Scots Light Company gets an eyefull.
We camped near the "necessaries" which worked out fine.

Nick and a WW1 reenactor joke about what limb to take first.

The reenactors assembled as the site opened for a salute.

Seamus addresses the crowd as well as reenactores from the American War of Independence, the War of 1812,
The American Civil War, World War I, and World War II.
Andy in the uniform of the King's Royal Regiment of New York, an AWI Loyalist unit.
John of the Royal Scots, Mike of the British Indian Department stood between Andy and I.
Kevin, Tyler, and I represented the 17th US Infantry. As a sergeant, I have my musket at "Advance Arms" while the
other reenactors are at "Shoulder Arms."

A reenacting corporal and two privates of Company "C", 4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry.
Quite a few Canadians fought in Union units during the American Civil War.

Three reenactors recreating the Royal Canadian Regiment of World War I.

A lone Panzergrenadier representing World War II. There was also a Russian trooper.

In the late morning, there was  rate of fire demonstration. Each group of reenactors was to fire five rounds in quickest time. Now, in reality there was NO WAY on God's green earth that muzzle-loaded muskets could beat bolt action rifles of later eras. This was to show how each weapon was loaded and what the rate of fire could be. In some ways, we surprised ourselves. Although Andy wore an example of the earliest uniform present, he did not fire since his musket was the same as the 1812 weapon. Smart man; he didn't have to clean his musket much!

Sergeant Mike of the BID demonstrates a trade musket.

Tyler show the crowd his .75 calibre India Pattern musket.

Your humble blogger explains the .50 calibre rifle he is about to shoot.
Kevin demonstrates the .69 calibre US Springfield Musket.

Prime and Load!
Tyler fired five shots in 1:15 minutes, Kevin in 1:40, and myself in 2:30.
We primed, loaded, and actually rammed with the paper wadding. It makes a bigger boom!

The ACW Michiganders make ready to fire their .58 calibre Enfield rifled muskets.

The reenacted Royal Regiment of Canada prepare the SMLE rifle (L) and the Ross rifle. (R)
The Ross kept up its reputation as a jam monster and promptly froze up.
The SMLE fired 5 shots in 7 seconds.
A better view of the young Tovarich's SKS.

The WWII renenactors demonstrate the Russian SKS rifle and the German Mauser 98k.
The SKS is normally a semi-automatic weapon but the blank cartridges don't have enough gas to cause the
bolt to recoil, so the bolt had to be worked manually with each shot.
The 98k Mauser however fired 5 shots in 7 seconds again.

At the end of the firing demonstration, the real fun began. One of the WWI reenactors showed off the Mills Bomb cup discharger that can be attached to the SMLE and sent a few tennis balls flying down range.

And it went off with a satisfying "Ponk!"

"It's up there somewhere."

There was also a cavalry contingent.

Later in the afternoon, the "Parade of the Soldier" took place, where the reenactors showed off and explained their uniforms and equipment.

Andy in his "Yorker" uniform with the light infantry cap.
Mike and John showing the uniforms of the Crown forces in 1812.

The 17th US in the white summer roundabout, the grey roundabout, and the blue regulation coatee.

The 4th Michigan in sack coats and frock coat.

The RCR sharing a laugh.

This Feldwebel (sergeant) of Panzergrenadiere (armoured infantry) shows off the field grey.
Later in the day, a camp-fire cookoff was held. Beth and Tina made "mac & cheese" according to Thomas Jefferson's 1790 Montecello cookbook. The other entry was a steak stew. The judges ate all of both offerings but chose the stew. I personally love our mac & cheese offering. Kraft Dinner, it is not!

Beth and Tina present their entry into the cook-off.

Which would you choose?

The next day, Sunday, the schedule repeated for the most part. A few new things were added to the rate of fire demonstration.

The Provincial Marine show the proper care of the 3-pounder field gun.

The ACW reenactors demonstrate loading and firing both standing and prone.

The corporal knew his business and worked fast.

A German reenactor demonstrated the Russian SVT semi-automatic rifle.
I've been told it's a cantankerous thing.

One of the WWI reenactors demonstrated a "coach gun."

Double-barrelled, handy, and fast, it could mess up your day.
At about 1:00pm, many of the reenactors marched up to St. Peter's cemetery with colours and pipes to honour the War of 1812 dead buried there. The service was led by Nick of our group who is the administrator of that church.

The assembled reenactors march to the cemetery.

At the gate, we were joined by a reenacted Canadian Nursing Sister.

Our piper.

Getting our instructions from Nick.

Most of the reenactors stood at a grave and answered "Present!" when the name of the deceased was called.

John stands at the grave of John Pearce. The War of 1812 commemorative plaque can be seen at the foot of the monument.
Nick, an Anglican Canon, leads the service of remembrance and prayer.
Toward the end of the service, the reenactors fired 3 volleys in salute.

The two sergeants stood out with the colours and the piper.

Kevin at his post.

John at his post.

The reenactors line the exit to the cemetery.
Most folks expected more to happen and didn't walk out!
St. Peter's Anglican Church, across the street from the cemetery, where a salute was given to L/Sgt. Ellis Sifton, VC.

The Canadian Nursing Sister, a lieutenant of the Medical Corps.
At the end of the memorial, I was taken down with the heat and could not march out with the rest. There was no breeze and high humidity; it was just too much for me. Despite that, it was a good weekend and I believe they plan to do it again. If you get a chance, come and see the Backus Page House Museum in Wallacetown, ON. It's a lovely spot and more events will be held there as time goes on.