After spending a few days in Norfolk, VA for the Norfolk Harborfest, Pride of Baltimore II, America’s Star-Spangled Ambassador, has made her way north towards Toronto. There, the tall ship will promote Maryland’s economic interests in ports around Canada, including the Redpath Waterfront Festival.
The Redpath Waterfront Festival (RWF) presented by PortsToronto will once again launch the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes series in Toronto on Canada Day weekend, July 1-3. Other tall ships joining the event include, El Galeón, an early colonial Spanish ship and floating museum and the Draken Harald Hårfagre, the most authentic Viking ship of its kind since 1000 A.D. These ships will offer public tours in Toronto before each continues through the Great Lakes with stops at ports on both sides of the border. This year the RWF will welcome, for the first time, the Royal Canadian Navy. Additional programming will include the Waterfront Artisan Market and the Ultimutts Stunt Dog Show. Visitors will also be able to check out live music, dance demos, live art and buskers at the Simcoe and Rees WaveDecks and take in the beauty of the Grand Finale Parade of Sail. General admission to the festival is FREE with a nominal charge for ship deck tours. http://www.towaterfrontfest.com/
Pride of Baltimore II is currently climbing her way over the Niagara Escarpment through the Welland Canal. I departed the ship yesterday, leaving her in the capable hands of Captain Miles for her passage through the mighty locks. Leaving by car, I crossed the border between Canada and the US in a vehicle other than a ship for the first time in 14 years. The Niagara Peninsula was spectacular – stands of trees, vineyards, and grassy parks shown in vibrant green under a cloud-speckled blue sky.
All along the way, however, were the relics of 1812. Scattered stone walls, stately Fort George, and towering over the forested bluffs of Queenston Heights, Brock’s monument, commemorating the heroic death of General Brock at the battle there. All reminders that 200 years ago this picturesque expanse was host to a heated war between two young nations. The War of 1812 defined both Canada and America, particularly along the Great Lakes, where a dozen or more American invasions found Canadians united in a cause for the first time in their short history.
Baltimore was also defined by invasion during the war. During the Battle of Baltimore immigrants, merchants, former slaves, militia, and descendants of original settlers all joined together with the few federal troops on scene to defend Baltimore against a powerful British Force. Their successful efforts had the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry to inspire Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem.
Nearly two centuries later, we still commemorate and remember the heroism of 1812 on both sides of the world’s longest undefended border. But we also celebrate the long-standing peace between the United States and Canada. For our part in commemorating and celebrating, Pride, Inc. has been presenting each Canadian port Pride II visits with a special gift – a three-foot by five-foot linen replica of the 15-star, 15-stripe Star-Spangled Banner of 1812. Each of these flags were flown over Fort McHenry, on the pole standing on the very spot it did during the Battle of Baltimore, folded by Maryland students visiting the Fort, then carried from Baltimore aboard Pride II, and flown over the ship in local waters as we approached each port.
So far this year, we have presented these flags in Miramichi, New Brunswick and Brockville, Toronto, and Port Dalhousie, Ontario, always citing the 199 years (and counting) of friendship between our nations. Each presentation has been met with hushed astonishment from public officials, roaring applause from the gathered crowds, and whoops of approval from local Canadian Legion Veterans. Even after four presentation ceremonies, it never got easier for me to contain my own emotions as I witnessed the heartfelt appreciation with which the flag was accepted. This small token carries enormous import and weight.
History, peace, and friendship are cargo that Maryland’s Goodwill Ambassador joyfully carries. From our departure past Fort McHenry (America’s only National Historic Shrine) on 21 May, Pride II has not been burdened by carrying these flags, but made more buoyant in her role. So on Canada Day we remind our brothers and sisters to the North that we are right beside them as they “stand on guard.” And when our Star-Spangled Banner waves this Thursday, we will remember there is freedom and bravery in great store on both sides of the Great Lakes.
12 September 2011
Pos: 43 30.5’N x 078 52.7’W
Wx: SWxS F 5
After a hectic late week and weekend in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, respectively, Pride of Baltimore II is underway once more, this time headed down the length of Lake Ontario and entering the 662 nautical miles of the St. Lawrence River. While the big city hustle and the Toronto International Film Festival overshadowed Pride II’s visit, the crew were still able to capitalize on the Orioles being in town to play – and defeat – the Toronto Blue Jays. During our Thursday and Friday stay there, Craig Weeks and company at Toronto Harbourfron Centre were terrific in their support.
Sailing to Hamilton on Saturday morning, Pride II took center stage, even outstripping the HMCS Montreal, a Canadian Frigate for the attentions of the town. We arrived to Hamilton Harbor with an Easterly breeze and threaded our way through a slough of sailing races to grand stand in front of Hamilton’s Marine Discovery Center. Opening at 1530 once the ship was secure and the gangway suitable, we saw 995 people visit by 1900, and then another 2186 between 1100 and 1800 Sunday. Hamiltonians are proud of their history, enthused about all things maritime and even had a pirate themed roller-derby in honor of our visit! Thanks to all the folks who made our visit to the Western-most port on Lake Ontario a great one.
As I write this, Pride II is charging along between 8 and 10 knots under all plain sail, plus the stuns’l and t’gallant. The breeze is forecast to hold and possibly increase while remaining from some Westerly direction, which means it’s a favorable breeze all the way to Montreal, our next port. With such conditions, it looks as if we may not get to add Lake Ontario to our swim call list, but, having sailed off the dock in Hamilton this morning, we may trade that check mark for being able to sail the entire length of the Lake. Here’s hoping.
Jamie Trost and Montreal bound crew of Pride II