Historic Spring Outing for Double Chevrons!!

by John McCulloch

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The first motor trip of the 2003 driving season was a tour with a historical perspective of the Niagara Peninsula through visits to Niagara-on-the-lake Niagara Falls, Thorold and Queenston. Our guide, Ken Boichuk presented a really informative and entertaining look at one of the most significant areas of our province.

The doughty band of travelers included Jacques Lieber, his son Claude and ClaudeÕs son Yannick; George and Marijke Dyke, Ruth and Gordon Dyke, John Mazmanian, Jack Andrews, Michael Stevanovic, Obrecht, Victor Alksnis and Maria Petrusiw and John McCulloch and Chris Deja.

We started in Oakville with various cakes, coffee and orange juice and started our trip on time (smelling salts anyone?). After a fast trip to Grimsby to pick up Ken, we drove straight to Welland Canal Lock Three in the shadow of the Garden City Skyway. As luck would have it, a Dutch registered vessel was approaching and we had a chance to see the ship enter the lock and begin to rise to the next level. Ken explained the history of the the canal and its significance to the Canadian economy. He also pointed out the remains of previous versions of the present Welland Canal. We moved east of Thorold to Lock One where the famous Canadian naval destroyer Haida is now in dry dock for repairs prior to being permanently located in Hamilton Harbour. From there Niagara-on-the-lake was our next stop. We followed side roads lined with apple orchards and vineyards into Niagara.

One of the fascinating aspects of the tour was a visit to a small corner of the local cemetery across fromthe Shaw Festival Theatre. The men buried here were all Polish Americans who had come to Canada to be trained as part of the French force who were to defend the newly created Poland at the end of WW 1. During their training in Niagara they contracted the Spanish Influenza and some forty of them died from the disease. It becomes instantly clear that they died in numbers and many on the same day. After lunch in the park or the Buttery (for those who forgot lunch), the convoy moved down the Parkway to Queenston Heights. Near Brock’s Monument, Ken explained the story behind the erection of the monument itself and all the political machinations that implied. He also debunked the story of Laura Secord. She was not a chocolate maker who led her cow to warn of a imminent attack. Her rather minor role was “enhanced” by Prince Albert, the royal consort and thus the “myth” was created.

By four o’clock the main body of members headed back to Oakville for a delicious meal at Thai Satay and More on Cross Street. Thanks to Chris Deja for preparing all the goodies and to Ken Boichuk and Morris Wernick for their assistance in planning the itinerary and commentary.

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