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 WINDSOR, Ontario, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Attractions featured during "Thanks, Michigan!", the first weekend in May, reflect the cultural diversity and historic roots of Canada's southernmost city.
 These attractions include a British musical comedy, a musical presentation that is part of Festival Francophone, the Teutonia Club's Mayfest and a neighborhood celebration in Via Italia. In fact, due to its pivotal role in development of the region, Windsor may very well be the most historically important site in Ontario.
 Beginning with discovery by French explorers before the year 1700, Windsor had been a major waypoint for pioneers going west and an important transportation hub for rail transportation and lakes shipping. Much of the War of 1812 was fought in and around Windsor's Essex County, and there are still reminders of it today, notably Fort Malden in Amherstburg. During the period of human slavery leading up to the War Between the States, the Windsor area was a refuge for people who yearned to be free. In the late 1800s, the city became a center of commerce and it was finally incorporated on Queen Victoria's birthday -- May 24 -- in 1892. When the 1920s arrived, the city acquired a glamorous, if somewhat notorious, image as a source of spirits during the Prohibition Era.
 Historical Sites for Visitors
 A number of historical sites still exist from the past, including the Francois Baby (pronounced "Baw-bee") House, Windsor's oldest, built in 1798; Fort Malden in Amherstburg, the site at which the Battle of 1812 was fought; The North American Black Historical Museum, also in Amherstburg -- arrival point for "The Underground Railroad" network of escape routes for slaves; Alexander MacKenzie Hall, built in 1855; and John R. Park Homestead and Hiram Walker Distillery, founded in 1857. All are readily accessible to sightseeing visitors, and many host special events through the year.
 Detroit Captured by Windsor
 Windsor was originally settled by French fur traders and farmers. One of them, Antoinne Cadillac, built a fort and trading post in an area south of Lake St. Clair known as Le Detroit (literally, "The Strait"). It was named Fort Pontchartrain, after the chancellor of France. By the early 1800s, the area was seeing considerable English influence, and the War of 1812 began when an American army commander set out to capture Fort Malden at Amherstburg. In the end, a flawed strategy led Gen. William Hull to instead surrender Detroit to British and Indian forces led by Gen. Isaac Brock and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, who had support from 11 tribes including the Ottawas, Chippewas and Wyandottes. Among the terms of surrender were the Territory of Michigan, 40 barrels of gunpowder, 400 rounds of cannon-shot and 35 cannons. The state of Michigan was later given back, and Windsor and Detroit have remained on good terms in spite of the incident.
 The Railroad That Was Not a Railroad
 It was during the early to mid-1800s that Windsor became a transportation center in its own right -- first with the sailing ships that plied the Great Lakes and ferry boats which crossed the Detroit River, and later with the stagecoach and railroads. In 1825, before the advent of steam power, boats powered by horses walking a treadmill were used to cross the river. Regular rail service to Windsor was instituted in January of 1854. The famous Underground Railroad, on the other hand, was not a railroad at all, but a route of station-like safe houses run by white Methodist and Quaker abolitionists to get slaves out of the U.S. and into the safety of Canada. The last part of the road to escape was usually a boat trip from Toledo, Ohio, to Amherstburg.
 The Roaring '20s, Jazz Age and Prohibition Era
 In the 1890s and early 1900s, cultural trends in the two cities on the river were on parallel courses. One exception was something Windsor had that Detroit did not in the early '20s -- namely distilleries. Prohibition in the U.S. had shut them down.
 So, a lively trade commenced in Canadian whiskey, gin and other potables. In winters cold enough to freeze over the Detroit River, bootleggers would hire teenagers to drive across the ice in open Model Ts laden with liquor. In the warmer months, the rumrunners would make their famous midnight passages. A new industry sprang up of boat builders eager to offer mahogany runabouts fast enough to outrun the federal revenuers. Chris-Craft, Hacker and Gar Wood all vied to have the fastest thing on the water. It was an era of flapper girls, jazz bands and open roadsters with rumble seats.
 Windsor Today
 The contemporary Windsor is still a transportation center -- in fact, more so than ever before, with waterfront dockage for ocean freighters, a Windsor airport large enough to land the Concorde, bus and truck terminals, a throughway network and much more. Windsor itself is the largest automaking city in Ontario, and Essex County is known for its agriculture.
 The city has been carefully developed to preserve the beauty of its waterfront -- and there are more than 100 miles of shoreline surrounding the county like a peninsula, on Lake St. Clair, Detroit River and Lake Erie. This makes the Windsor area an ideal place for weekend sightseeing, with 25 beaches plus numerous small boat harbors and marinas.
 Other area attractions include Colasanti's Tropical Gardens in Ruthven, Boblo Island Amusement Park in Amherstburg, Point Pelee National Park in Leamington and Via Italia, the city's Italian district, near downtown.
 For centennial locations, events and other information, call the Windsor Visitors Bureau at 1-800-265-3633 in the United States or 519-255-6530 in Canada.
 -0- 4/29/92
 /CONTACT: Jonathan Deneau of the Windsor Visitors Bureau, 519-255-6530/ CO: ST: Ontario, Michigan IN: SU:

SB-JG -- DE029 -- 4624 04/29/92 17:32 EDT
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Date:Apr 29, 1992

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