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Loyalist soldier display at Adolphustown (Loyalist Cultural Centre).

As you look out from Adolphustown Park, over the rough waters of Lake Ontario, it is easy to picture the Loyalist boats making their way to shore. Men, women and children, who experienced years of hardship in the King's service, watch eagerly for a first glimpse of their new land. On June 16, 1784 the first band of United Empire Loyalists stepped ashore to receive their land grants, in recognition of their loyalty to the crown.

Not far from this landing site, stands the Allison House of Adolphustown. This substantial Victorian home was built by the grandson of Joseph Allison, one of the first Loyalist settlers in the township. How appropriate that his home is today the Loyalist Cultural Centre, sponsored by the U.E.L. Association, Bay of Quinte Branch. The Centre houses an extensive collection of artifacts, exhibits and archival reference facilities. It serves as the only resource centre in Canada dedicated to the collection, preservation and interpretation of Loyalist settlement. Also located in the Adolphustown Park is the United Empire Loyalist Memorial Cemetery, which is the site of burials dating back to 1784.

Another Ontario-based organization that honours the memory of Canada's Loyalists is the Museum of Applied Military History. This organization recreates Canada's rich military history through uniformed demonstrations by historical reenactors. The M.A.M.H. covers a wide range of units, dating from the Seven Years War to World War II, with particular emphasis on the Revolutionary War period.

Gavin Watt, the museum's founder and CEO, formed the recreated King's Royal Yorkers in 1975, at the start of the 200th Anniversary celebrations. Since then, he has brought together a number of Canadian units under the museum's Northern Brigade. They include the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers), Brunswick Light Infantry (Battalion Von Barner), Queen's Rangers, 1st and 2nd Battalion King's Royal Yorkers, Butler's Rangers, Brant's Volunteers and Northern Indian Department Rangers.

It was in late 1996 that Gavin Watt approached Kathy Staples, the curator of the Loyalist Cultural Centre, to explore the possibility of setting up a Loyalist Soldier Display in the L.C.C. Museum at Adolphustown. The idea was enthusiastically received and preparations for the display went ahead over the winter. In May, 1997, Jeff Paine, Todd Girdwood, Tex Joyner, Jon Wannamaker and Dave Putnam, all reenactors from the 2nd Battalion, King's Royal Yorkers, erected the new display in time for the museum's Spring opening.

This display attempts to address several important questions. Who were the Loyalists? Why did they take up arms in support of a British monarch? What was their role during the Revolution? What became of them at the conclusion of the war? As these questions are answered, the visitor begins to appreciate the significance of this period in Canada's history.

Few of the "Provincials", as Loyalist troops were commonly called, were career soldiers. Instead, they were clerks and clergymen, lawyers and labourers, shop keepers and slaves, farmers and tradesmen. They came from varied social classes, nationalities and walks of life. Although they were not soldiers by profession, there is no question that Loyalist units demonstrated a high degree of professionalism. Over the eight years of war, Loyalist units and native parties in the Northern Department launched many devastating raids from Canada into the regions now known as the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Illinois and Ohio. Their rapid movements and effective tactics demoralized the rebel population and frustrated the American forces. Colourful names like Schoharie, Stone Arabia, Cherry Valley, German Flats, Klock's Field, Oriskany, West Canada Creek, Minisink and Blue Licks dot the battlefield maps of the wars northern theatre.

The display tells the Loyalist soldier's story from the outbreak of the Revolution to the settlement of disbanded regiments at the conclusion of the conflict.

* Various Loyalist regimental histories are featured in a section entitled "Troops of the Northern Department". The origins and campaigns of these units are described and pictures of modern-day reenactors colourfully illustrate the written text.

* Reproduction regimental coats and equipment are used to demonstrate the uniforms and weaponry of the period. One display case contains a "red coat" of the Royal Highland Emigrants, a Sgt.-Major's coat of the King's Royal Yorkers and a laced drummer's coat of the 2nd Battalion K.R.R.N.Y. There are also various pieces of equipment, including a bicorn, sergeant's sword, bayonet, cartridge box, haversack and canteen. Pictures and descriptive text are used to explain each piece of equipment.

* Another section of the display deals with the soldiers' lives, from the point of recruitment to the point of discharge. Illustrations are used to explain their accommodation, medical care, camp duties, recreation, food and even their discipline. One display case has been set aside to show various personal items that were commonly used by soldiers and civilians alike in the late 18th century, such as writing implements, eye glasses, playing cards and powder horns.

* Although the display focuses primarily on the Loyalist soldier, a section is also devoted to Loyalist women. They participated in the war in many ways, not the least of which involved holding onto the farm after the men had left to join the Loyalist corps. The women harboured Secret Service spies, provided "safe houses" for military scouts, supplied food to Loyalist troops on the move and maintained an information network for the Crown. Many were forced off their farms and, with their children and a few scant belongings, travelled through the wilderness to join their menfolk in Canada. Their involvement is recognized in the display.

* The display does not dwell on the campaigns and battles in any depth, although there is a ten minute video which explains the relevance of the American Revolution for us as Canadians. There is a section however that shows various period pictures of sites and battlefields that relate to the northern theatre of war.

* Most Canadians recognize the names of rebel leaders of the Revolution. Few can name even the most prominent of the King's men who operated out of Canada. One section deals with the leaders of the Northern Department, with brief descriptions of their role during the conflict.

* And of course there is a section of the display that covers the settlement of Loyalists at the conclusion of the war.

This joint project of the Museum of Applied Military History and the Loyalist Cultural Centre will introduce the visitor to the important role that all Loyalists played during the Revolution, and ultimately, in the settlement of Ontario. The museum is located on the Loyalist Parkway, Hwy. #33, 3 km. east of Glenora Ferry. It is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Sunday, 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and the Tearoom is open 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The Centre is closed on Mondays.
COPYRIGHT 1997 United Empire Loyalists' Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Andrews, R.J.; Bedbrook, R.A.
Publication:The Loyalist Gazette
Date:Sep 22, 1997
Previous Article:UELAC Conference, Winnipeg 1997.
Next Article:Ministering to the Anglicans of the Fourth Town (Adolphustown, Ontario).

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