By Andy Grant, WNED-TV producer
Canada and the United States are young countries. Our histories are measured in hundreds of years, not thousands. We are not surrounding by the ruins of the past like many of the great European cities. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t history all around us.
Like many nations, the early history of the United States and Canada includes armed conflicts. Most of theses are well remembered and celebrated in classrooms and holidays across both nations. But one conflict, that involved both countries, has been largely overlooked on the American side of the border but is remembered with special reverence on the Canadian side. That conflict is the War of 1812.
The War of 1812 was crucial in establishing the United States as a world power and helped to crystallize the burgeoning Canadian sense of identity. The war was fought in different places across the United States and parts of Canada but the fighting was particularly fierce and prolonged along the Niagara Frontier. Today, much of that history is captured at sites throughout Western New York and Ontario. The history and legacy of the War of 1812 comes to life at forts, museums, and monuments spread from Buffalo to Toronto.
1812 on the Niagara Frontier is a new WNED-TV local production that showcases the rich history of the War of 1812 in this region. These are not static display cases; this is living history. Visitors to these places can see things as commonplace as soldiers chopping wood for fires or as explosive as cannon and musket firings. These demonstrations bring to life the reality of living along the Niagara Frontier in the early 1800s. Every demonstration, every authentically recreated costume, every action by the interpreters is designed to teach visitors what life was like for people during the War of 1812.
1812 on the Niagara Frontier captures what these places are all about. The viewer will stand next to the visitor as we see an authentic 1800’s era meal created in a period kitchen and find their sea legs as we shove off into Lake Erie on the US Brig Niagara. We will experience each place through the historians and interpreters who bring these sites to life.
More than anything, this new program shows that history is not just experienced in textbooks, it can be lived.
1812 on the Niagara Frontier will air on WNED-TV on Tuesday, April 23 at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 26 at 10 p.m.