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Monday, March 31, 2014

Wasaga under Siege 2014 & the 200th Commemoration of Battle of Nottawasaga Bay and the sinking of HMS Nancy August 14th-17th/2014


The 12th annual Wasaga under Siege takes place from August 14th – 17th at Nancy Island Historic Site in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada.  Not only will it  be celebrating the 12th annual Wasaga under Siege event but also be commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Nottawasaga Bay and the sinking and destruction of 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 of an American Victory and the destruction and sinking of the HMS Nancy.  All official commemorative activities are planned for this day and will take place between 10:00am and 1:00pm.  During this time admission to Nancy Island Historic Site will be free to the public. 
  • Early Set-Up - 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.  Registration, merchants, artisans and event programming and activities including musket and cannon demonstrations will be located in the parking lot area.  The entire parking lot area will be fenced off with admissions being located at the front parking lot entrance which will also provide security and access control
  • Commemorative Coin – An official commemorative coin is being minted for this bicentennial event and all participants taking part in the event will receive one as a token of our appreciation.  There will only be 1000 coins minted and each will be individually numbered with a database of who received what number. 
  • Merchants & Artisans – Those attending as merchants, artisans or demonstrators this year will have a choice to either set-up on the island or set-up in the Nancy Island parking lot area.  The Nancy Island parking lot area is not paved and is a dirt and sand lot with the exception of a paved roundabout that will become a pedestrian path with all the tents and activities facing into it.  If you are arriving to set-up Wednesday or before and planning to setup on the island you will be able to drive your vehicle onto the island. From Thursday on, anyone wishing to set-up on the island will have to use the carry-alls.  If you are planning to set-up in the Nancy Island parking lot set-up should not be an issue unless events and activities dictate otherwise.  If you are planning to attend as a merchant, artisan or demonstrator if you could indicate your preference to be on the island or in the Nancy Island parking lot it would be greatly appreciated. 
  • U.S. Brig Niagara – We are presently working with the Town of Collingwood and other partners to have the U.S. Brig Niagara participate in Wasaga under Siege 2014.  The Niagara was one of the original ships that was directly responsible for the destruction and sinking of HMS Nancy.  If successful the Niagara will participate in both Friday & Saturday evening battles and during the day will offer deck tours for the public while berthed in Collingwood.  Negotiations are ongoing and will keep everyone updated. 
·       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 Expedition – 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 will being in Meaford, ON, on Monday, August 11th and arrive at Nancy Island Historic Site the Thursday, August 14th .  The trip will include port stops and 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 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 and your crew are interested in participating in this historic sailing opportunity please contact Tom Hurlbut at hurlbut8646@rogers.com
 
·       Voyageur River RunEdenvale, 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 great music during the day for everyone to enjoy.  Booked groups and performers to date include:  Hardtackers, Zoom Daddys, Drums 1812, Caber Toss, Backroads.  More groups will be added as they are confirmed.  Also the ever so popular Hospitality tent will be open both Friday and Saturday evenings for all participants, volunteers and sponsors to attend.  

·       Captured U.S. “Prize of War” - The original ship bell from either the USS Tigress or USS Scorpion 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!

·       If you are planning to attend on-line registration is open at: www.wasagaundesiege1812.com
·       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.  

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:

2014 will not only mark the 12th year that Wasaga under Siege has been entertaining and promoting heritage in the Wasaga Beach area but it will also mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Nottawasaga Bay and the burning and destruction of HMS Nancy.  Nancy Island will come to life once again with the roar of cannon and musket fire, as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the only War of 1812 battle to take place in the Southern Georgian Bay region.   Over 500 re-enactors will be taking part echoing history through the streets and waters of the Town of Wasaga Beach, Wasaga Beach Provincial Park and Nancy Island Historic Site.

Wasaga Under Siege “A War of 1812 Experience” will feature authentic War of 1812 tactics, battles, historic vessels and more.  The expanded Grand Encampment at Nancy Island Historic Site will feature re-enactors opening their living history encampments to the public, along with 19th century merchants, artisans, period cooking, musket and cannon demonstrations, surgeons’ tent, fireworks, commemoration ceremonies, musical entertainment and more. All battle events will take place at various Wasaga Beach Provincial Park and Town of Wasaga Beach locations.  For more information about Wasaga Under Siege visit: www.wasagaundersiege1812.com

Number of Participants Expected: 500+

David  J. Brunelle, OCT
Business Administrator
Historic Military Establishment of Upper Canada
Royal Newfoundland Regiment - Bulger's Company

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