A commemoration in needle and thread

Posted April 23, 2012  by Niagara This Week Source

Quilt honours bicentennial of War of 1812
They used muskets, bayonets and cannons to fight the War of 1812, and 200 years later a Port Colborne group is using needle and thread to honour its bicentennial.

Last week the Port Colborne Quilt and Stitching Guild presented a quilt to the War of 1812 committee that’s run by the Port Colborne Museum. The quilt is a replica of the official bicentennial logo and will be used to cover up the Zavitz mill stone during the unveiling of a new plaque at its rededication event on June 17.

“I think they’ve done an absolutely amazing job,” said Geoff Bowden, member of the 1812 committee.

The committee went to the guild a couple months ago to ask if they could make something for the unveiling. The guild had five quilters: Margaret Tanaszi, Joanne Quinn, Natalie Benner, Gail Pilon and Joanne Visser, work on the project.

Bonnie Johnston, an 1812 committee member, said the June unveiling will be a big event.

“A lot of people don’t realize the importance of our little town during the way,” she said.

The Zavitz Mill was a key for the militia and native groups that were loyal to the British. A key strategy for the Americans during the war was to destroy the mills, which would hamper the ability of British loyalists to make bread and food. Johnston said the Zavitz Mill was one of only two in region that survived and in turn it was largely responsible for providing food for much of the militia and residents of Niagara.

Calling Niagara the “main frontier of the war” Bowden said the Zavitz Mill was key in maintaining that frontier.

“It very easily could have been a little bit different (if the mill was destroyed),” he said.

During the presentation of the quilt, Tanaszi said the group was happy to help out and honour the bicentennial anniversary.

Last fall the committee unveiled the Zavitz mill stone, which had been moved from its previous location just southwest of the hospital to a place of honour at the entrance to HH Knoll Lakeview Park. On June 17 a plaque rededicating the stone will be unveiled from behind the quilt.

The quilt will then be hung in the museum for the next three years, until the 200th anniversary of the end of the war.

And that’s what Bowden said is the true meaning of the bicentennial celebrations: the ensuing peace between Canada and the United States.

“It’s about 200 years of peace between the two countries,” he said, noting how amazing that is considering everything else that has gone on throughout the world since.

The June 17 event will take place at HH Knoll Lakeview Park, and will feature a pipe band, re-enactors, and speeches from local dignitaries. It begins at 2 p.m. and all are welcome to attend.