December 12, 2012

Mischief on Christmas Day

Soldiers saw Christmas as a special day to celebrate with their comrades, and officers were no different. One officer in particular tells of his celebration of Christmas in 1813 in his journal.

Lieutenant John Le Couteur
Lieutenant John Le Couteur wrote on December 25, 1813 about his longing for home, and he remembered a past Christmas spent with his family. In 1813, Le Couteur was invited to spend Christmas Day with Mrs. Robison and her guests. Le Couteur endeavoured to help liven the party by causing some mischief. He managed to borrow a lady’s dress in order to amuse the guests. Le Couteur knocked on the front door and entered dressed as a destitute women requiring aid. The gentlewomen told her sad story to the guests and …

The old Lady Herself [Le Couteur] was completely won and a large sum was preparing for her relief but a certain occasional twinkling in the unfortunate Lady’s eye led one or two of the fair sparklers [to] suspect the truth – a whisper went about and screams of laughter following, the poor Lady had to cut and run.
After this amusement, the guests shared a toast to the glorious capture of Fort Niagara on December 19. After the merrymaking was complete, Le Couteur went on picket between the hours of 12 and daylight. Fortunately, Le Couteur’s friend, Mrs. Robison, sent him a hot supper, which he found “highly acceptable.” 
If you want to see what Christmas was like in a fort, you can visit Fort George and Fort Niagara this weekend for their annual Christmas events. Don’t miss these great events!

December 05, 2012

A soldier’s Christmas

For British soldiers in the 1800s Christmas was seen as a special time of year for the men to celebrate.

For regular soldiers in the British Army, Christmas Day was treated as a Sunday. This meant that most men had the day off and religious services were held. Most soldiers saw Christmas as a special day and attempted to prepare for its celebration. Depending on where a soldier was stationed, many would attempt to accumulate more food for Christmas Day in order to hold a special feast. Many took the opportunity to celebrate the day with their fellow soldiers.
McFarland House plaque
Another advantage to Christmas Day was that men were issued new uniforms. All soldiers in the British Army received new clothing once a year on Christmas Day as a gift from the king. Unfortunately, not everyone received a Christmas gift on time. Do to supply problems, many soldiers did not receive their new uniforms on time and were forced to make do with what they had during the long winters in Upper Canada.

This weekend you and your family can experience Christmas in the 1800s by visiting McFarland House and the Laura Secord Homestead for their annual Christmas events. Also, don’t forget to head to Fort Erie on Saturday for their annual Flames across the Niagara event.