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Monday, January 6, 2014

Wasaga under Siege 2014 & the 200th commemoration of the Battle of Nottawasaga Bay and the sinking of HMS Nancy

(News Release)

August 14th-17th/2014

Just wanted to bring everyone up to speed on the activities/events we are working on for the 12th annual Wasaga under Siege taking place from August 14th – 17th at Nancy Island Historic Site in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada.

Not only we will be celebrating the 12th annual Wasaga under Siege event but we will also be commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Nottawasaga Bay and the sinking and destruction of the HMS Nancy. 

•         Expanded Four Day Event – August 14th to the 17th/2014 – This year Wasaga under Siege will be expanded to a four day event to include Thursday, August 14th which is 200 years to the day of the battle, an American Victory and the destruction and sinking of the HMS Nancy.  All official commemorative events are planned for this day. 

•         Nancy Island Grand Encampment – The Grand Encampment will be will be open for everyone to set-up as of 10:00am Monday, August 11th.  This will allow any participants and re-enactors to set-up early and enjoy other local attractions in the Wasaga Beach area before the official events begin.  Also this will allow those who attended the bicentennial event at Fort Erie to travel directly to Nancy Island on the Monday and not have to travel back and forth. 

•         Expanded Grand Encampment – The Grand Encampment this year will also be expanded to include the Nancy Island parking lot to allow for displays, exhibits, period merchants, activities and the expected increase in participants and re-enactors to the event.

•         Commemorative Medallion – An official commemorative medallion is being struck for this bicentennial event and all participants taking part in the event will receive one as a token of our appreciation. 

•         Unknown Soldier Grave Marker Dedication – As part of August 14th commemoration ceremonies a Veteran of the War of 1812 plaque will be placed at the site of the Unknown Soldier on Nancy Island to represent all those Unknown War of 1812 veterans who survived the War and went on to help develop this great country or ours. 

•         “Miller Worsley Voyage” – Calling all Naval Boats and Crews! – We are in the planning stages of putting together an historic small boats and small schooner sailing expedition along the shores of Southern Georgian Bay that tentatively would begin in Owen Sound, ON, Monday, August 11th and arrive at Nancy Island Historic Site the morning of Thursday, August 14th to coincide with the Commemorative Ceremonies taking place that day.

The trip tentatively would include port stops and potential overnight stays in Meaford, Thornbury and Collingwood with some historical programming taking place in each participating port community.  We are currently working with community partners in each port to hopefully provide logistical support in the form of dockage, camping accommodations, food and other logistical support needed.  We are still in the planning and confirmation stages for this voyage and if you are interested in participating in this historic sailing opportunity please contact Tom Hurlbut at hurlbut8646@rogers.com

•         River Run – Edenvale, ON (Glengarry Landing) to the mouth of the Nottawasaga River (Nancy Island Historic Site) – 25 – 30 km River Run.  Friday, August 15th – 9:00am to 1:00pm – Edenvale to Jacks Lake. Saturday, August 16th – 9:00am to 1:00pm – Jacks Lake to Nancy Island. The Upper Nottawasaga River is basically the same way it looked like in 1814 and is a great opportunity for those hearty voyageurs to experience the environment and hardships fur traders would have experienced firsthand on this historical fur trade route.

This river excursion will not be a leisurely float down the river as all participants will be expected to pull their paddle weight, potentially cut paths through fallen trees and log jams and getting your feet wet as low fast running water may dictate guiding the boat by hand and feet. We are looking for voyageur canoes and crews to take part in this great event.  If you or your group is interested in participating please Ed Maxwell at ed.maxwell@bmts.com  

•         Fireworks & 3D/Light Projection – As part of the 200th commemoration ceremonies we are planning to host a large fireworks presentation that will be launched from the middle of the Nottawasaga River just off Nancy Island.  We are also working on light and 3D projections that would illuminate the Theatre and Museum during the evening over the four days.  

•         Expanded Musical Entertainment Venue – We are planning to expand our period music and entertainment stage to 3 days offering programming during the day for everyone to enjoy.  If anyone or groups are interested in participating at Wasaga under Siege 2014 please contact me anytime to discuss details. 

•         “Prize of War” the original ships bell from the USS Tigress will be on hand as we are hoping to ring the bell to officially open the ceremonies on Thursday, August 14th.  This ships bell would have been rung 200 years ago to the day as American sailors and soldiers prepared for battle against the crew, Natives and voyageurs defending HMS Nancy.  

•         There are many more things that we are working on to make this event a memorable one and look forward to hosting as many re-enactors and participants as we can.  We are still in the process of updating the website however the registration page for the 2014 event is open and ready to go and we encourage you all to register ASAP!

•         I want to let everyone know that Wasaga under Siege 2014 will be my 12th year and last year that I will be coordinating this event.  With that I am looking to host the best one yet and being the 200th will be an event to be part of and remember!  I am proud to have managed and coordinated this event over the past dozen years and could not have done it without my groups support, the Town of Wasaga Beach, Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, The Friends of Nancy Island and of course all the re-enactors and participates that have made this all possible.
Thank You!        David J. Brunelle


Contact Information: David J. Brunelle (705) 716-7124 or wasagaundersiege@rogers.com

Short Historical Description of Event and significance to the War of 1812:

During one of the ship's supply trips to the Nottawasaga, in July of 1814, an American force left Detroit, intending to recover Fort Mackinac. Their frontal assault was defeated in the Battle of Mackinac Island. However, they had learned of the location of the Nancy from a prisoner, and three of their vessels proceeded to Nottawasaga Bay.
At the Nottawasaga, Lieutenant Miller Worsley of the Royal Navy had succeeded Poyntz and taken command of the Nancy, which was about to sail to Mackinac with 300 barrels of flour, bacon and other rations. He was warned of the American presence and had the Nancy towed two miles up the river, where he hastily built a blockhouse armed with three guns (presumably dismounted from the schooner). His force consisted of 21 sailors, 23 Indians and 9 French-Canadian voyageurs.
On August 14, Captain Arthur Sinclair led three American ships (Niagara, Scorpion and Tigress) into Nottawasaga Bay. The Americans believed that the Nancy was still out on the lake and heading back to the Nottawasaga, and intended to wait in ambush for her in the bay. However, Sinclair landed some of his troops to make an encampment on the spit of land between the river and the lake shore, and some wood-cutting parties discovered the schooner's hiding place.
The next day, three companies of American regular infantry supported by a 5.5-inch mortar and the guns of Sinclair's ships attacked Worsley's position. Worsley, faced with overwhelming odds, determined to scuttle the Nancy to prevent her being captured by the enemy, with her valuable stores, but before Worsley's plans to destroy the ship could be completed, the ship was hit by an American mortar shell that set her on fire. Her crew escaped, but the Nancy sank.
After the action, the gunboats Scorpion and Tigress were left to guard the river to prevent canoes and bateaux from getting supplies to Fort Mackinac. Eventually the river mouth was blocked with felled trees, and the two gunboats proceeded along the north shore in the hope of intercepting fur-laden canoes on the lake. Worsley and his men removed the obstructions and reached Mackinac on August 31 after paddling and rowing for 360 miles. They subsequently surprised and captured both American gunboats in the Engagement on Lake Huron.

Short description of planned activities:

Wasaga under Siege “A War of 1812 Experience” is an annual living history festival commemorating a War of 1812 battle between Americans, British and First Nations which resulted in an American victory with the sinking of the British schooner Nancy.  This historic event eventually led to the modern day creation of Nancy Island Historic Site located in present day Wasaga Beach, Ontario.  This four day heritage festival managed and operated entirely by volunteers’ features authentic War of 1812 tactics, historical battles, marine assault landings, artillery, and much more. A professional public address announcer narrates each battle event as a series of fictional and historical battle scenarios are presented to the public.  The Grand Encampment at Nancy Island Historic Site will feature over 500 re-enactors opening their living history encampments to the public along with 19th century merchants, artisans, demonstrators, entertainers, live period musical entertainment and much more.

Scale of Event: Provincial

Number of Participants Expected: 500

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