Stoney Creek, Day 1, Wednesday

On the first weekend of June, I had the experience of a lifetime. I got to relive history! On June 6 1813, 205 years ago, the British Redcoats engaged the American army in what we know as The Battle of Stoney Creek, a small but decisive conflict that was a part of The War of 1812.

I was given the opportunity to go work at the reenactment of the battle, as a ‘sutler’, or ‘merchant.’ I was working in the kettle corn tent, selling bags of the good stuff to all kinds of people as they went by on the way to the battle or to look at the historic sites. My boss, Dana, is a real history buff, with about a million and five (at least) stories to tell about everything under the sun. He’s my kind of guy, and the kind of boss you actually want to hang out with.

Here is the story of my adventure, which I will release in a number of segments so that it is a bit more reader friendly. If you have any questions please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Enjoy!

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Stoney Creek, Day 1, Wednesday:

At around noon, Dana drove up to my house in his big red truck, pulling an equally large silver enclosed trailer. The trailer was jam-packed chock full of popcorn making equipment, supplies, corn, sugar, oil, salt, the whole deal. The truck was loaded high with canvas, coolers, and camping supplies. Somehow we found enough room for me to ride shotgun, and I threw my bag on top of the precarious pile already threatening to topple in the back seat.

The drive was about an hour and a half or so, which we filled with yakking about Dana’s service over in Afghanistan, which I found really interesting. I had just read Dana’s book – if you want to hear a firsthand account of what it’s like to be right out there where the fighting happens, you definitely should read it, click here – and so Dana was able to tell me lots more stories about some crazy stuff. What an experience to have.

When we got to the Stoney Creek Battlefield House Park, we began unloading and setting up. On the right side of us, Jeff, or ‘Sutler Cyrus,’ sells the very creative (and delicious) Cartridge Candy, and is currently running a political campaign for Willy the Weasel, an aspiring rodent politician who doesn’t mind admitting that he’s only in it for the money. For more about Willy, head over here.

On the left side, was Four and Twenty Blackbirds, a period bakeshop that sells amazing baked goods of all shapes and sizes, including… butter tarts! Oooh those tarts were good! They also sold lemonade in green glass bottles, which was a huge hit when it got hot.

Since the vendors are part of the reenactment, everything had to be period accurate, or in other words, everything must look as if it was from 1812. All the guys wore button up pants with suspenders, and all the ladies wore long dresses. The tents were of real canvass, with wood pole supports and blacksmithed tent pegs. Everything modern got tucked away in the back of the supply tent.

After setting up everything, I met all Dana’s reenactor friends. One guy, Mike, was an amazing photographer, and since I had brought my camera along, we naturally started chatting. We talked about everything from photography tactics to the history of the War, and everything in between.

Dana and I then walked to a nearby restaurant for a fantastic fish and chips supper. When we returned we got a campfire started and all the sutlers pulled up lawn chairs, and sat around chatting until it was time to turn in. And that was the first day!

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Liberation Day

Opa Lloyd

Yesterday, May 5, was Liberation Day in Holland. This holiday celebrates the liberation of The Netherlands from the NAZI regime over 70 years ago.

My great grandfather was in Holland for the original liberation celebration. For he was one of the liberators!

His name was Lloyd Victor Rains, and indeed he was a victor. He had signed up for the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry two years previous, and had spent the last one and a half years on the fighting front, going through experiences no one should have had to endure. He was a private, and he carried a rifle and a shovel. The shovel was used for quickly burrowing into a ‘slit trench’ when under fire, and we all know what the rifle was for.

After months of brutal combat to liberate Sicily and Italy, Lloyd’s regiment was moved around up to France, where the liberation of Continental Europe was in full swing (following the famous invasion of D-Day). Lloyd was then moved on to Holland, where the fighting continued until the end of the war. Lloyd’s was the first regiment to enter Amsterdam directly following the war’s end.

In the following months Lloyd met and married my Great Grandmother, Olga, one of the many dutch girls who came back to Canada as a War Bride.

Lloyd joined up as a teenager hoping for adventure. What he saw was not so glamorous. He hardly spoke of his experiences to anyone. I have always been fascinated by WWII, the way the entire world clashed together in arguably the most all-embracing worldwide conflict in history. It was so terrible in so many ways, what lessons can we now learn so that we never have to do something similar again?

Thank you Opa

World Scout Emblem

IMG_0474.JPGThe World Scout Emblem is badge worn by scouts all over the world.  If you bought a Scout uniform, it will already be stitched on over the left shirt pocket.  This badge can be worn by any scout, in any of the more than 200 countries associated with Scouting.  It symbolizes the unity between all Scouts, no matter where they are from.

Here is a paragraph from the Canadian Scout Handbook:

“The World Scout Emblem has two parts: a fleur-de-lis, and a rope tied with a reef knot.  The fleur-de-lis represents the Scouting Movement.  The rope circle, joined with a reef knot, symbolizes the strength and unity of the brotherhood of Scouting…”

The three points of the fleur-de-lis represent the three parts of the Scout promise:

Duty to God, obedience to the Scout law, and service to others.

I like that there is something that can bring Scouts together and give them something in common, even though every country does Scouting uniquely.

 

 

Scout Uniform

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If you are signed up as a Scout already, than you should already have your scout uniform, which you can order from your country’s scouting website.  If not, it can still be fun to have your own uniform.  You could either put together your own, or order the official scouter’s uniform.

What Robert Baden-Powell originally meant for uniforms was whatever the scout himself could buy or make.  Here is a quote from Baden-Powell’s book, Souting for Boys:

“Flat brimmed hat if possible, or wide-awake hat.

Coloured handkerchief tied loosely round the neck.

Shirt:  Flannel

Colours: a bunch of ribbons of patrol colour on left shoulder.

Belt, with coat rolled tight and strapped or tied behind.

Haversack, to carry food, etc., slung on back across the shoulders.

Shorts: cut short at knee.  A kilt if you are a Scotsman.

Stockings, with garters made of green, with one end hanging down one inch.

Boots or shoes.”

The shorts and shirt should be of light brown or beige colour.  Of course, you need not use shorts during the winter, nor do you have to wear stockings if you would rather wear regular socks.  The colours are only necessary if you belong to a scout patrol, in which case the scoutmaster will probably explain what the patrol’s uniform looks like.  Try to copy the above list as closely as possible, and start making your own uniform.

With some guidance and help from a friend, I made my own camouflage vest using different fabrics I picked out.  I wanted lots of pockets so that’s how I made it.  It is really quite cool and I also have the satisfaction of knowing that I made a part of my uniform!

I encourage you to put together your own uniform; whether you order it or make it is entirely up to you.