MORRISBURG – Over a century before the battles at Vimy Ridge, the Somme, and Juno Beach there was a battle right in our backyard – Crysler’s Farm.
This year marks the 210th anniversary of the War of 1812 Battle of Crysler’s Farm, also named “The Battle that Saved Canada.”
On November 11, 1813, approximately 4,000 American troops attacked a force of 1,200 British Army, Canadian Militia, and Indigenous Warriors at Crysler’s Farm. The American forces, led by General James Wilkinson, were travelling east as part of a two-pronged US attack force on Montréal. In the span of about three hours of intense fighting, the American forces were defeated. Wilkinson retreated back across the St. Lawrence River, and did not attempt to cross the river again.
“This was the battle that saved Canada from American expansionism,” said Kim McInnis with the Friends of the Crysler’s Farm Battlefield.
The group organizes bi-annual historic reenactments of the battle, helps maintain the monument, and preserves the memory of the battle and its importance.
The friends group is hosting its annual commemoration ceremony November 11 at the battlefield monument starting at 8:45 a.m. The monument is located next to Upper Canada Village, about 11 kilometres east of Morrisburg.
The commemoration will include wreath laying, speeches, and – if conditions permit – firing of the two large cannons over the waterfront.
Refreshments will be available at the conclusion of the ceremony.
McInnis encouraged people to attend the event.
“Not only is it an important battle on a national scale, it is of local importance,” she explained. “There were many local families in the Canadian militias that fought right here, defending Upper Canada.”
While the battle is named for John Crysler’s farm, where the British forces set up their command post – the battle also took place on neighbouring farms owned by the Fetterely, Loucks, Haines, Casselmann, Atkinson, Jones, and Boush families.
Much of the battlefield land was flooded with the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1958. The monument, first erected in 1895, was relocated to its present location during the Seaway project.