“The British are Coming! The British are Coming!" will be the cry heard on Saturday, July 12, in Eastport as the island community commemorates the 1814 capture of the city by the British during the War of 1812. Redcoats will march and bagpipes will wail during the day marking the capture's bicentennial.
A full schedule of free public events has been planned by the Border Historical Society, with help from friends on both sides of the border. Starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 11, at the Christ Church Institute on Key Street, the kick‑off event will be an evening of song and discussion, "Brave Yankee Boys: Naval Ballads of the War of 1812," with Dr. Stephen Sanfilippo and his chantey group, From Away Downeast.
On Saturday, July 12, early risers may take advantage of a public breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Christ Church Institute. Starting at about 10 a.m. at the fish pier, boaters from the U.S. and Canada flying Union Jacks and British Navy Jacks will sail into view. Debarking the Ada C. Lore, a two‑masted schooner portraying one of the British warships, will be a landing party demanding the immediate surrender of Fort Sullivan or bombardment will occur. At 10:15 a.m. a short reenactment to tell the story of the demand, surrender and capture that took place 200 years ago will take place in Bank Square. Visitors are encouraged to come in period dress.
The day's events include the Highland Band, the Oromocto Pipes and Drums, who will march at 10:30 a.m. through the downtown in triumph, along with professional reenactor soldiers from the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site at Halifax, who will be joined by the 104th Regiment of Foot. The band will play victory songs from their repertoire.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the lawn of Peavey Memorial Library, a military encampment will be staffed by a student reenactment unit, members of the Halifax Citadel Regimental Association, a nonprofit association that works with Parks Canada at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada. The sounds of muskets and cannon fire will echo as members of the recreated Halifax garrison occupy the town once again. Sailors, marines and artillerymen of the era will present a schedule of period military displays. Historical costumes and interactive programming will take place throughout the day including a Royal Navy press gang, who will seek to convince local citizens of the merits of serving His Majesty the King.
The Tides Institute & Museum of Art will hold a dedication ceremony of the Veterans Memorial Hall from 1 to 1:30 p.m. at the 6 Green Street location, just above the library. From 1:45 to 2:15 p.m. there will be a special ceremony at Hillside Cemetery on High Street. The ceremony will be the War of 1812 Graveside Recognition Project of Canada. This marks the first time that the grave sites of British veterans buried on United States soil will receive recognition plaques. The Oromocto Pipes and Drums will attend the ceremony. A bus will leave the Green Street area at 1:30 p.m. for the cemetery and will return to the downtown area after, with a stop at the Eastport Arts Center on the return.
The Eastport Arts Center at 36 Washington Street will host an author's panel featuring six historians speaking on the role of Maine and the Maritimes, and especially the Passamaquoddy Bay region, in the War of 1812 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. This event is sponsored by the Maine Humanities Council. The historians and authors include: John Boileau of Halifax, N.S.; Professor Gary Campbell of Fredericton; Bob Dallison of Fredericton; Dr. Josh Smith; James Munch, Esq., of Bangor and Eastport; and Professor George F.W. Young of Halifax.
A walking tour of historic sites of the War of 1812 will be held from 6 to 6:45 p.m. by local historian Wayne Wilcox. The group will convene at Christ Episcopal Church on Key Street. From 7 to 8 p.m. the Eastport Arts Center will host a locally written reader's theater play, The Quilt, about the life and times of a young woman during the British occupation. A reception will follow.
Participants are encouraged to visit the Barracks Museum on Washington Street and a replica of the powder house that will be at the fisherman statue. The Border Historical Society provides this free day of events with the goal of sharing the importance of preserving local history and the buildings that remain from the era. A full schedule may be seen at <www.borderhistoricalsociety.com>.