Port Dover Harbour Museum Exhibition

Entrance the 1812 Naval Exhibit
Until December 31, 2013

WHEN BRITANNIA RULED LAKE ERIE’S WAVES - The Royal Navy on the Great Lakes 1812-1814

At the outset of the war of 1812, Canada wasn’t a country and Dover wasn’t yet a port. None-the-less the waters of Long Point Bay often provided a safe harbour for vessels flying the ensigns of the British crown. They came here to take on provisions from local farms and to rendezvous with shipments of supplies coming overland from Burlington Heights. Early in the war, no less a hero than Major-General Isaac Brock came to Dover with his troops to board a flotilla of schooners and bateaux enroute to the capture of Fort Detroit.  Later, Commander Barclay’s vessels used Turkey Point as a home base for their blockade of Erie harbour.

Smoke On The Water! tells the story of the Royal Navy and its predecessor, the Provincial Marine, on Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes during the War of 1812. The sailors who served on the lake were a mix of locally-raised mariners, British soldiers, and experienced “salties” from the Royal Navy. They lived and served on a motley fleet that ranged from full-rigged warships to tiny armed sloops “acquired” from fur traders and merchants.  In September 1813 they met the American squadron at Put-In-Bay in a naval fight whose outcome would have far-reaching consequences for the people of Norfolk County.

The exhibit presents 1812-era artifacts from cannonballs and swords to coins and newspapers. It also features a number of models and dioramas showing a range of 1812 Great Lakes warships; from the largest – the 112-gun St. Lawrence, to the smallest – The 3-gun Little Belt. The spectacularly detailed model of the St. Lawrence is on loan from the Hamilton Military museum and is over two metres long and almost as tall.

The exhibit also explores the daily lives of ordinary sailors on the lakes, with reproduction examples of clothing, personal effects, weapons and food.  A video presents the dramatic effects of cannon fire on the wooden-hulled ships of the time. Renowned marine artist Peter Rindlisbacher has provided the museum with a number of large prints of his well-known War of 1812 paintings.


Changing Gallery
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