The Biggest Battle Ever in the Football field of Ol' SCI.
Tomorrow is the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812-14 in Canada.
My high school, Stamford Collegiate Institute, had two wings, the 'old wing' built in 1800 and the 'new wing' built in the early 1900s. It was within feet of the corner of Drummond Road and Lundy's Lane and it was the site of the bloodiest and fiercest battle of the War of 1812-14, on the evening and night of July 10, 1814.
The old wing, where I hated algebra and conquered Latin, was a barracks and medical aid station during that war.
The Battle of Lundy's Lane was odd, in that both sides could be said to have lost it. The British and Canadian forces are credited with winning it because they were the only ones on the battle field when the smoke cleared. The Americans had run out of food, water and ammunition and had begun their retreat along Portage Road, towards Chippawa. The British had also run out of water and just really needed to find a place to sit down. The battle had left each side very battle weary and very bloody.
It was also the battle that cemented the goal of the British and Canadian troops: that Upper and Lower Canada would remain British. Five decades later, in 1867, they became Canada. The Americans had planned to take it and they lost, although they still had plans to invade Canada into the 1930s.
A fairly major factor in maintaining the freedom of Upper Canada was the population. Most of the people in Upper Canada were United Empire Loyalists who had lost their homes in the US and were blessed if they would let the Americans drive them out of their new homes. My Mom's ancestors, the Ball and the Chrysler families, fought to keep their land at Chrysler's Farm (Kingston, Ontario) and the Niagara region.
Things were pretty hot at our house. The British and Canadian troops,including their native allies, met up before the first charge on Lundy's Lane, approximately where our house now stands on Portage Road. They proceeded down Muddy Run, along the banks of the muddy creek where we sometimes played as children, just a block away from home. Portage Road is one of oldest 'roads' in Canada as it had been an Indian portage between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, along the banks of the Niagara River for centuries.
As the Americans fled back upstream to Chipawa, they threw their packs and weapons into the river. In March of 1848, ice in Lake Erie blocked the river opening, drying the river bed and stopping the falls. Braver locals walked out onto the river bed and found some of the weapons and personal articles of Brigadier General Winfield Scott's men, that they had tossed into the river during the retreat from Lundy's Lane in 1814.
Home and school were battle grounds for me anyway, as a teen, but indeed home and school were the sites of one of the most memorable battles in Canadian history.
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