63 Years of Comaraderie: The Fort Henry Guard and the United States Marine Corps

Excitement is brewing this weekend as Fort Henry NHS will be performing along side the United States Marine Corp (USMC) in what is always a capturing performance. What many may not realise, is that Kingston’s  Fort Henry Guard and the USMC have a very unique and long standing relationship.

The first joint performance at Fort Henry NHS in 1954

It all began in 1954 with celebrations commemorating the signing of the Ogdensburg Agreement. The Ogdensburg Agreement was a document signed in 1940 by President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, binding Canada and the United States to the joint defense of North America. As commemoration, The USMC and representatives of the Fort Henry Guard were invited to Ivy Lea Bridge, a symbol of a partnership, and posed together shaking hands.

The USMC were then invited to perform for the first time on the parade square of Fort Henry NHS, in what was a grand spectacle of joint military performance. The restorer of Fort Henry and the founder of the Fort Henry Guard, Ronald L. Way, successfully presented the Guard as an outstanding example of what living history could look like. Commander General Lemuel C. Shepherd was extremely impressed with the performance standards of the Guard, which to this day was made up of young adults without formal military training. Ronald Way and General Lemuel, quickly garnered respect for each other and struck a mutual friendship which would cement the comradery between FHG and USMC.

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The Marines at Fort Henry in 1954

The following year, General Lemuel invited Ronald Way and the Fort Henry Guard to the Marines Barracks in Washington D.C, the only non-military unit to ever be extended the privilege. The Guard and the USMC performed together for the second time as they marched past the Iwo Jima Memorial. The two groups began a tradition of exchanging commemorative gifts that year, including a brass cannon to the USMC and an USMC drum to the guard.  In 1955, no greater honour was presented then to General Lemuel C. Shepherd, who became the Honourary commander of the Fort Henry Guard, which he served with pride until his death in 1990.

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This year marks the 63rd anniversary of friendship between these two unlikely comrades. For years, both groups have travelled to- and-fro to perform together, with bi-annual performances at Fort Henry NHS. The Fort Henry Guard is one of five units in the world, and the only Canadian unit, honoured with the presentation of the Marine Corps Drums. Fort Henry has a whole collection of objects and images that show off their friendship with the USMC, some of which can be seen in the exhibits of the fort, and The Marine Barracks has a whole room dedicated to the Fort Henry Guard, where they hang the FHG colours.

David the goat,  FHG Mascot, stands with the USMC unofficial mascot, Chesty the bulldog.

I have personally had the pleasure to work at Fort Henry when the Marines last visited in 2015, and can say that the USMC enjoys visiting as much as we enjoy having them, as many voiced that Kingston and Fort Henry was their favourite place to perform.

Soldiers, Sailors & Jailors Trivia

Bring Your Thing’s Soldiers, Sailors, and Jailors was an amazing opportunity for members of the community to showcase their artifacts and their life stories. The event was also an opportune moment for those same people to show off their Soldiers, Sailors, and Jailors knowledge with a night of trivia. After the artifacts were put away, everyone was invited to stay for 3 rounds of trivia. The theme of the first round was soldiers, with the questions ranging anywhere from local Kingston to national military history. The second round was a combo of Sailors & Jailors, which included questions about Kingston and Canada’s rich corrections and marine history. The final round had the theme of Kingston, these were general questions about local history. Each round had 15 questions with one bonus question, and the winning team of each round was given a prize.

The trivia started at 8:30, with some initial technical difficulties, and quickly became a competition of the curators, with representatives of Murney Tower, the RMC Museum, the Marine Museum, and Canada’s Penitentiary museum all hoping to be the champions. In the end, we had an extremely close match, after three rounds there was only a half point difference between first and second place. Our winning team was “The Team,” creativity was not their strong suit, and in second was “Team Lock Up.” While there were winners and losers, I can honestly say that it was fun to see everyone engaged and interested in historical trivia.

Soldiers, Sailors, and Jailors was the first night of trivia Bring Your Thing had ever attempted. While we may have struggled in certain areas, what we can say looking back is that we managed to get people thinking and appreciating local and national history. To spread this information to as many as possible we challenge you to a game of trivia with some questions from our event.

In the Canadian army which rank is represented by a single St. Edward’s Crown?

The designer of our current Canadian flag George Stanley used the template of this institution’s flag as the basis for his design?

Which local Kingston prison was originally called “The preferred class penitentiary” and was designed to house younger, more physically fit white collar criminals?

Often before the name of a naval ship the acronym HMCS will appear, what does this stand for?

Multiple fires throughout Kingston’s history eventually caused legislation to be passed preventing the use of what material for construction?

The name Kingston comes from the original name of the city, Kings Town, which was created in 1787 to honour this ruling monarch. What is their full name?

Name the Canadian Prime minister who served in the Army Medical Corps and the Royal Air force during WWI. Hint, he also has won a Nobel Peace Prize.

During the American Revolution, Kingston became a refugee centre for people, what were they called?

What company opened its plant in Kingston in 1940 with the purpose of manufacturing aluminum productions to support the war effort?

Legendary Kingston band “The Tragically Hip,” wrote this song about the escape of 14 inmates from the Millhaven penitentiary in 1972?

Our next event “Homegrown” will be taking place at the Memorial Centre Farmers Market on Sunday, August 20, at 10 am. Feel free to bring an item that is homemade, some old farming tools, or anything you feel relates to the theme.
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Soldiers, Sailors & Jailors

On July 25, 2017, Bring your Thing had our seventh event of the year with the theme Soldiers, Sailors, and Jailors at the Portsmouth Tavern. We were very excited for this month’s theme as Soldiers, Sailors, and Jailors have all made great contributions to the City of Kingston and have shaped this city’s history. We called the the community to action to share important stories, artifacts, souvenirs etc., and we can honestly say the people did not disappoint. We had many amazing artifacts that represented Canada and Kingston’s rich military, corrections and marine history.

We were fortunate enough to have Mr. Samwell bring in multiple museum worthy items. Among these was a sexton from a lifeboat from 1941, which he made sure to mention still works! He also had morphine syringe designed for battlefield use during the Boer War, from 1901. Mr. Samwell also brought in a Queen Mary cigarette box, which originally had cigarettes, a lighter, and a pencil and was given to soldiers as a Christmas present during WWI. His most interesting item, however, was a military cane made from wood and brass, with what looked like a handle made from antlers.



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Another item worth mentioning was a map of North America from 1776, which was to be carried by British military officers. The map’s owner pointed out a lot of interesting notes and features, one of them was that the map does not recognize that the Arctic Ocean exists because it had not been officially discovered yet. Another was that it doesn’t show the border between the United States and Canada, which was a common feature in North American maps of the time.


Another man we were lucky to have attend the event brought items he himself salvaged from a passenger ship named the Comet that had sunken in Lake Ontario due to a two boat collision in 1861. He had salvaged the items in 1967, more than 100 years after the ship sank. Some of the things he brought were a door latch, an oil can, and a faucet, along with some pictures of other items salvaged from the same ship.



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The final item we want to mention is the book that is pictured above. It is no ordinary old book, it is actually the ledger from the early years of the Portsmouth Tavern, who graciously hosted our event. This ledger was used as a guest book for the tavern and has the names of the many people who passed through the doors in 1934. The item was brought by Marie Keane Edwards, whose grandfather Mr. Beaupremade the decision that many throughout Kingston’s history seem to make, to open a bar. It was amazing to see how even something as simple as our venue has a rich history we can dive into.



Overall, there were a lot of interesting items brought by a lot of interesting people. But to us at Bring Your Thing we love hearing where these items came from. Each artifact had its own unique story as to how it ended up at our event. Some were bought at auction, some were family heirlooms, and others were just something that was picked up along the way. 



Along with the great items brought by people, local museums also had some great artifacts on display. The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, RMC Museum, Canada’s Penitentiary Museum, and Murney Tower NHS brought some of their best soldiers, sailors, and jailors items. Canada’s Penitentiary Museum came prepared with a full display and managed to squeeze hundreds of years of corrections history onto one table. Canada’s Penitentiary Museum had several artifacts and items which detailed the Canadian Government initiative of sending corrections experts to Afghanistan. This sparked a lot of discussion from several people who were not aware that members of Correctional Services Canada were sent to Afghanistan to stabilize the prison systems of war-torn countries. The Marine Museum brought arguably my favourite item of the night, an Olympic Yachting board game created for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The best thing about this board game is that the map you play on is the Kingston Harbour on Lake Ontario. It was complete with all the landmarks, like Portsmouth Harbour, City Hall, Fort Henry, and the Rideau Canal. Take a look for yourself in the photos above. Kingston has been referred to as the fresh water sailing capital of the world.  One of my only regrets was not sitting down to play a game!



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We would like to take time and thank all those who came, those who brought their things and shared their stories with us, and our great hosts Portsmouth Harbour. Celebrating Canada’s 150+ is about celebrating the little things that make our country and communities great, and at Bring Your Thing we are committed to bringing folks together to share our experiences.

If this event is something you are interested, then you’re in luck because we have another one coming right up! Join us at the Memorial Centre Farmers Market on Sunday 20 August 2017 at 10 am, this time the theme will be “Homegrown” so feel free to bring your thing. It could be something home made, some old tools, or anything you feel relates to the theme.

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For more information check out our website at www.bringyourthing.wordpress.com!

Sunsets on Fire: A Night at Fort Henry NHS





As the sun fades, the air fills with the roar of a cannon. No, this is not our city bracing for war. It’s Fort Henry NHS as it tells the tale our nation’s early years of confederation and that of the Fort Henry Guard Drums, Drill Squad and Artillery Detachments. The Fort Henry Sunset Ceremony is just that, an official ceremony to mark the end of the day and the lowering of the Union Jack flag. Upon a recent visit, thanks to Fort Henry NHS, our staff were able to attend the event. It’s a must see event this summer in Kingston!


The redesigned Fort Henry Sunset Ceremony with the addition of an enhanced narrative, tells a story of life in the Fort Henry Guard from a Sergeant’s widow, while producing moments of comic relief during an interaction with someone who has a different perspective of the Fort Henry Guard. These new acquaintances describe the differences in our country today and that of the time when the Guard was stationed at the Fort. The narrative flows smoothly into the precision military music, drill and artillery focus of the ceremony, captivating the audience as gunfire bellows and the sky lights up with clouds of smoke over the  sunset in view. As the Guard drums and drills are performed you can’t help but embrace the feeling that you have been transported to the 1860’s and are experiencing the Fort Henry Guard performing on command.



An appearance was made by the beloved David the Goat, the Guard mascot. As he interacted with would be recruits and made his way past the adoring audience. David X is the ninth Saanen goat donated to the Fort by the Saint David Society of Toronto, to commemorate the memory of the mascot of the 23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers).


After the beautifully sung sounds of God Save the Queen and O Canada visitors were delighted to see a grand firework display over the fort wall with the St. Lawrence River as its backdrop. The sky lit up as the audience cheered, proving it to be one of the best set of fireworks displays of the year.


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Be sure to visit Fort Henry Sunset Ceremony this summer to go back in time and celebrate this uniquely Kingston experience. For more information and tickets visit https://www.forthenry.com/events/sunset-ceremony/

Celebration at Military Communications and Electronics Museum Focused on Music

On Saturday, July 1st, the Military Communications and Electronics Museum hosted a live concert event to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Confederation.


The museum staff with their partners at the Seniors Association Kingston Region and the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre (KMFRC) worked for months, planning and organizing this event to celebrate our nation’s special birthday. The organizing committee provided free bus transportation to and from the museum that made stops at the Seniors Centre, Kingston Military Community Sports Centre and the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre.



The event was a relaxed concert style with multiple acts performing throughout the museum between 2 pm and 4 pm. The guests were encouraged to move around in order to experience the variety of acts. The event began with the singing of the Nation Anthem, O Canada and opening remarks of welcome and thanks.

The performers included the Limestone Trio, a classical strings ensemble, Gentle Wings Puppet Theatre, Mauricio Latin Music, Kingston Drumming Circle, the Euro Café Duo and the PWOR Pipe and Drum Band. There were performances for people of all ages. A cupcake display, provided by Bennett’s Valu-Mart, in the shape of the Canada 150 logo was a delicious mid-afternoon interlude.


The event was a rousing success with well over 100 people in attendance, ranging in age from infants all the way to seniors. The museum was awash with red and white as guests celebrated Canada 150 through music.


That Belongs in a Museum


That Belongs in a Museum, the latest Bring Your Thing pop-up was hosted at the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston & Area. Fort Henry NHS, Military Communications and Electronics Museum and MacLachlin Woodworking Museum shared interesting items that made us think about why an artifact belongs in a museum!

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Youth displayed items that, not only  had special meaning to them, but they believe belongs in a museum. We showed that anything can belong in a museum, as someone found that even their backpack had value and a story to share.



Alex Mclean, Curator and Program Support Officer at Fort Henry NHS described the process of accessioning an artifact and the importance of an accession numbers. Accession numbers are what museums use to identify artifacts in their collections. It also is a source of information about the object. The accession number is made up of a sequence of numbers or letters which can tell you how old the object is, how long the museums has had the object & more.



Dave McCarey, Education Coordinator from Military Electronics and Communications Museum talked to the youth about the difference between an original artifact and a reproduction.  He showed the participants Canadian Military uniforms, one of which was an original artifact and the other was a reproduction. He also showed the youth a reproduction gas mask, explaining the use of the mask and the conditions soldiers faced after using it.


MacLachlin Woodworking Museum loaned items from their collection & youth were challenged to draw the artifact from a  written description. This task made participants aware that an accurate yet concise description of an artifact is important in a museum.

Lots of great items were shared! One youth brought her Great Grandfather’s WW1 medals as her artifact, as she believes that they belong in a museum because of the historical significance of her grandfather’s service during the war.

A youth displays her  great grandfather’s WW1 Medals that have been passed on through generations of her family

One of the youth used his hearing aid as his artifact. When describing why he thought it belonged in a museum he stated that there was an evolution in technology that allowed him to hear.

A youth at the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston Area showcasing his hearing aid

Overall we enjoyed spending the event discovering what belongs in a museum and how we connect to artifacts! We were able to discover facts about Kingston during a round of jeopardy, illustrated each other’s objects after taking time to ask questions about them, we learned about an artifact’s accession number, the role of a curator and the difference between an artifact and a reproduction.


Be Sure to check out the next Bring Your Thing Pop-Event themed Soldiers, Sailors and Jailors, July 25th 2017 at 7 pm located at Portsmouth Tavern! Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for the most up-to-date information!

225 years of Canadian History at St. George’s Cathedral


St. George's - John Graves Simcoe
John Graves Simcoe Portrait

On July 8th 1792, John Graves Simcoe came to the steps of the newly built, but yet unopened, wooden church of St. George’s. It was situated in the woods just to the west of Market Square, some distance from Fort Frontenac, the centre of activity of the new town. This land was still legally part of New France, but that was about to end, and a new era in Canada, Ontario and Kingston’s history was to start. With due solemnity, but perhaps not realizing the far reaching consequences of what was happening, John Graves Simcoe took his oath to be the first Lieutenant Governor of the newly created Province of Upper Canada, one of the two Provinces of Canada Colony. British Common Law replaced the French code civil. An appointed Executive Council and Legislative Council, and an elected Legislative Assembly came into existence. The latter two would meet first in Newark in September. The Executive Council met the next day in Kingston.

The wooden church replaced a meeting room in Fort Frontenac which had been shared by all denominations for services. Now they would share the new church until first the Roman Catholics and then the Presbyterians had enough members to build their own churches in the rapidly expanding town.

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1792 Church Exterior Drawing

225 years later, on Saturday July 1st 2017, at 1 p.m., Simcoe’s oath taking will be re-enacted on the steps of the stone church which replaced the wooden church 190 years ago. All are welcome to attend the re-enactment of that momentous day in Ontario and Canada’s history.

Museum of Health Care to Unveil 3 New Exhibits

Since 1991, the Museum of Health Care has strived to connect visitors with the experiences of people in past times to provide context and perspective on today’s health issues. With eight on-site exhibits and nearly 40,000 artefacts in its collection, the Museum provides the community with the resources to reflect on and understand the history and science of health care.

This Canada Day, the Museum is celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial with three new on-site exhibitions: “Growing Pains: the 1867 Crisis at Kingston General Hospital,” “The Century: Medical Innovations of the 1800s” and “Quack: The Exhibit that Cures All!”

“Growing Pains” will examine the impact of the new government on KGH in 1867 while also examining health care in mid- to late-19th-century Kingston, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. “The Century” will celebrate the medical breakthroughs that took place in the 1800s. “Quack” will explore medical quackery and health myths.

With a myriad of interesting objects and their stories, these new Museum exhibits will bring history to life. The public opening on July 1st will feature tours of the new exhibits, family-friendly activities, and refreshments!

Discover Local Military History in Kingston’s Oldest Museum

Murney Tower Museum is Kingston’s oldest museum, committed to providing the community with an engaging approach to the First Capital’s military history. One of the ways the Museum promotes Kingston’s history is by involving the community in many of the Museum’s events and initiatives. Opening Day is the first opportunity of the summer to draw in the community to experience what life was like for the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment in 1846. Not only are important members of Kingston’s political and tourism community invited to attend and address visitors, but this year a local artist was also featured. This year, local artist Don Connolly was commissioned by the Kingston Historical Society to create a painting of the Tower for Canada’s sesquicentennial year. This painting features Murney Tower as it appeared in 1867 and in 2017. The painting (shown below) was unveiled in the Opening Day event and continues to be used in promotional posters and brochures.

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Town  Crier Chris Whyman looks on as local artist Don Connolly explains his painting
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Mayor Bryan Paterson looks at Mr. Connolly’s painting after it’s unveiling

First Capital Day is one of the most important days for the Tower to engage students in Kingston’s history. With all interpreters in costume for the day, teachers and students alike explore the Tower, learning about events not often featured in Canadian history lessons, like the Oregon Crisis. It is always a pleasure for the Tower interpreters to see the enthusiasm of the students and to share their excitement about the Tower and its history. This year, prints of Mr. Connolly’s paintings have been shared with teachers and educators in the hope that more students will ask about this portion of Canadian history and will visit the Tower to learn about Kingston’s military past.

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Educational Poster featuring Mr. Connolly’s Painting

Modern Fuel Hosts Artist-in-Residence Hiba Ali

Hiba Ali, a new media artist based in Chicago, Illinois, has been invited by Modern Fuel and SAVAC to take part in a month-long research residency in themodern fuel logo summer of 2017. The residency, titled Digital Mapping and the Politics of Place, engages with arts communities from Kingston to Toronto through workshops, talks and walking tours that explore the intersecting issues of race, geography and marginalization.

Ali’s workshop on 3D Blender Modeling last week taught participants how to use the software to model their own digital sculpture. This coming Sunday, June 11th at 2pm, Ali and artist Stéfy McKnight will lead an interactive walking tour of Kingston addressing the city’s history and ecology.
The investigation of inhabited space is continued with a tutorial of Animaps on June 13th from 7-9pm where participants will reflect on their personal, ephemeral and embodied relationship with the surrounding landscape of Kingston. Animaps lets participants create maps with markers, texts, images, and shapes which can later be sent to others as video; participants are encouraged to bring their own images, gifs, and videos to the workshop.

On June 17tModern Fuel - Blog - artist-in-residenceh from 2-5pm, we will have a screening of Ali’s work, followed by an artist talk in the gallery. Ali’s recent work Satellites maps out systems of vision, asking how mediated realities impact both physical and digital landscapes. This multimedia installation make visible the the socio-cultural codes that guide how one sees the world.

All events are FREE, registration is required for both workshops and the walking tour; email info@modernfuel.org to register.