It was a beautiful Sunday and we decided we needed a break. Picked Wasaga Beach as our destination, and then checking Google Maps remembered the Nancy
, a ship from the War of 1812. It's featured at a Historic Site near the mouth of the Nottawasaga River.
This is the Nancy, a sailing ship built at the (then) British port of Detroit in 1789, primarily for the fur trade. It would carry trading goods upstream from Fort Erie at the east end of Lake Erie, to Forts St. Joseph and Michilimackinac in upper Lake Huron, then both British fur trade forts. There the trade goods would be exchanged for the furs brought east down Lake Superior, in these years for the North West Company. The Hudson's Bay Company shipping went to and from Hudson's Bay.
This is the remaining hull of the Nancy. It's totally enclosed, so it's hard to get photos without reflections. When the War of 1812 was declared, the ship was drawn into service for the British navy. At the Battle of Lake Erie the American navy destroyed all the British ships involved, but the Nancy was away on a trading mission to the north. It survived as the only remaining British navy ship on the upper Great Lakes.
In this picture I was struck by the ship's ribs, which are flattened on one side, but are just the original shape of the tree trunks that were used. The American ships headed north to take Fort Michilimackinac but the Battle of Mackinac Island was inconclusive. The three ships headed down Georgian Bay to try and find the Nancy.
They found it at the mouth of the Nottawasaga Bay, hidden a short distance up the river. Three American ships with many more men and larger cannons than the Nancy's crew, led the Captain of the Nancy to rig the ship with gunpowder, planning to blow it up rather than surrender it to the Americans. The ship burned to the waterline. This is the building housing the remaining hull of the Nancy, and the adjoining museum (which was excellent). The Nancy lay buried under sand here for over 100 years before it was excavated in the 1920's. Now it's known as Nancy Island.
The park also had a model of a bateaux, the smaller rowboat known among the natives as the 'White Man's Canoe'. It was widely used in the fur trade. The Nancy's crew escaped in boats like this and rowed all the way to Fort Michimilimackinac. There they surprised two of the American ships and captured them, renaming them 'Surprise' and 'Confiance'. The British had retaken control of the upper lakes thanks to the crew of the Nancy, undoubtedly a big influence on the future border between our nations.
The small museum was great! This 'voyageur' picked out a tune on her fiddle for us. The two young women were able to answer all my questions about the displays, the Nancy, and the War of 1812 in general. I could go back here with a pen and notebook and spend a whole day.
This visit, short as it was, opened several new doors in my own mind. First, I learned that the War of 1812 was as much about naval battles and control of the Great Lakes, as it was about the land battles at Niagara, which I have known about for years. The stories of Laura Second, Queenston Heights, and Lundy's Lane are familiar to many Canadians, but I doubt many know about the Nancy.
It also made me think about the role of the First Nations at the time. The British got along well with the native bands, thousands of whom fought on the British side. This of course means that there were many thousands of natives living here long before white settlement arrived. Key areas in southern Ontario were quite densely settled.
The Toronto Carrying-Place Trail was a native portage trail from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay via Lake Simcoe. Adapted for use in the fur trade, it was a native route for thousands of years before that. Having paddled part of the Voyageur trade route down the French River, and the Bloodvein River in northwest Ontario, I know that these routes had been used by native peoples for thousands of years too.
Canada did not evolve as a nation until 1867, but the centuries before this fascinate me. I expect you'll hear more of these topics in the future as I pursue these ideas. A nice Sunday afternoon drive turned into a very interesting lesson in history.
I really enjoy reading information such as this, thanks for that :-)ReplyDelete
Thank you for the history lesson, FG. I had not heard of the Nancy. Interesting place.ReplyDelete
I remember visiting the Nancy a couple of times back in the 1960's when we spent the summers at our cottage near there, such interesting history of this area. Thanks for the trip back down memory lane.ReplyDelete
Quite an interesting place to visit, FG. The young interpreters at such museums can be quite informative!ReplyDelete
Great post and thanks for sharing the history lesson. The Nancy was a beautiful ship! I like the model. Happy Monday, enjoy your day and new week!ReplyDelete
I thank you for the history lesson and look forward to learning more about the area. I have read several good books about those times, but seeing the Nancy makes it so much more real. :-)ReplyDelete
I had not heard of the Nancy either. I'd enjoy that museum!ReplyDelete
The Powell River mill has used ships as a breakwater to protect their docks and mill pond. The first ship to be sunk (on purpose) was the Malahat, a wooden ship. They are now preparing some of their WWI and WWII cement ships to sink to become an underwater reef to attract scuba divers. - MargyReplyDelete
WOW--my hubby would love that museum also... So much wonderful history... I'm sure you'll go back!!!!!ReplyDelete
Praying for the flooding in Texas and at my son's home now... He's already gone through way too much this month... Prayers for Mark.
a great museum...i like the maritime ones!!!ReplyDelete
Amazing that anything at all is left of the ship after all this time.ReplyDelete
Great photos and a great museum.
Wonderful post and photos . I didn't know of this museum up that way , looks like a fun place to learn and explore . Thanks for sharing , Have a good day .ReplyDelete
Looks like a wonderful trip - so much to see and do. Thanks for the history lesson.ReplyDelete
I'm sure you'll go back!!!!!ReplyDelete
Very interesting; the museum looks beautiful.ReplyDelete
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