Tag Archives: pentax

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 28 – The K-Team


Pentax, the name that is always linked with the student special K1000, however, Pentax had a broad range of fantastic cameras, and for this episode, the gang takes a look at their shelves to discover the hidden gems that they have from the Pentax line.

Cameras Featured on Today’s Episode

Pentax Spotmatic SP F – While not the original Pentax SLR, it certain is a big step forward with automatic lenses and TTL metering. A worthy camera for any manual shooter plue the Super-Takumar lenses have a fantastic repuation not to mention a plethora of M42 lenses will let this camera sing.

Classic Camera Revival - Episode 28 - The K-Team

  • Make: Pentax
  • Model: Spotmatic SP F
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135/35mm, 36x24mm
  • Lens: Interchangable, M42 Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1973

Classic Camera Revival Spotmatic F
Pentax Spotmatic F – SMC Takumar 50mm ƒ/1.4 – Tri-X400 @ ASA-1600 – HC-110 Dil. B – 11:00 @ 20C @ 20C

Classic Camera Revival Spotmatic F
Pentax Spotmatic F – SMC Takumar 50mm ƒ/1.4 – Tri-X400 @ ASA-1600 – HC-110 Dil. B – 11:00 @ 20C @ 20C

Classic Camera Revival Spotmatic F
Pentax Spotmatic F – SMC Takumar 50mm ƒ/1.4 – Tri-X400 @ ASA-1600 – HC-110 Dil. B – 11:00 @ 20C @ 20C

Pentax KX – While it doesn’t get the same level of press as the K1000, the KX is still a solid choice when it comes to K-Mount cameras and as Bill says it won’t let you down and won’t break the bank!

Classic Camera Revival - Episode 28 - The K-Team

  • Make: Pentax
  • Model: KX
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135/35mm, 36x24mm
  • Lens: Interchangable, Pentax K-Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1975–1977

The Outside Glen Morris Ruins_
Pentax KX – SMC Pentax 28mm 1:3.5 – Rollei RPX 400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C

VW Van_
Pentax KX – SMC Pentax 28mm 1:3.5 – Rollei RPX 400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C

The Iron Metcalfe St. Bridge_
Pentax KX – SMC Pentax 28mm 1:3.5 – Rollei RPX 400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C

Pentax ME – Don’t let this camera’s small size fool you, a solid addition to the Pentax line of cameras if semi-automatic and fully automatic functionality is something you look for in a camera.

Classic Camera Revival - Episode 28 - The K-Team

  • Make: Pentax
  • Model: ME
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135/35mm, 36x24mm
  • Lens: Interchangable, Pentax K-Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1977-1979

Pentax ME – SMC Pentax 50mm 1:1.7 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 6:00 @ 20C

Toronto Film Shooters Meet - October 2013
Pentax ME Super – SMC Pentax M 50mm 1:2 (Yellow Filter) – ORWO NP55 @ ASA-50 – HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C

Toronto Film Shooters Meet - October 2013
Pentax ME Super – SMC Pentax M 50mm 1:2 (Yellow Filter) – ORWO NP55 @ ASA-50 – HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C

Pentax 645 – A strong workhorse camera and the main medium format kit in Alex’s bag. It’s almost a point-and-shoot medium format camera and being an underdog doesn’t command as high a price point as its cousins from Mamyia and Contax do. If you do get one, go for the original and be sure to add the 35mm wide angle lens to your kit and watch out that you get the 120 insert.

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645

  • Make: Pentax
  • Model: 645
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: Medium Format, 120/220, 6×4.5cm
  • Lens: Interchangable, Pentax K645-Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1984-1997

City Methodist - Gary, IN
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Kodak Tri-X Pan (TXP) @ ASA-250 – PMK Pyro (1+2+100) 10:30 @ 24C

2013 Christmas Cards - Roll 3 Finalists
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Rollei Infrared @ ISO-25 – Blazinal 1+50 12:00 @ 20C

MCC - Classic Car Shoot
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 75mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tmax 100 (100TMX) – Kodak Tmax Developer (1+4) 7:30 @ 20C

Pentax 67II – This camera will pump you up! The Pentax 67II is the final entry in a long line of 6×7 medium format cameras from Pentax. For James it is better suited for studio work as you do feel it after a long day of shooting it in the field.

Classic Camera Revival - Episode 28 - The K-Team

  • Make: Pentax
  • Model: 67II
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: Medium Format, 120/220, 6x7cm
  • Lens: Interchangeable, Pentax K67-Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1998

Wagon Wheel 1
Pentax 67 – Super-Takumar 6×7 105mm 1:2.4 – Kodak TMax 400

By Lake Ontario
Pentax 67 – Super-Takumar 6×7 200mm 1:4 – Kodak Tri-X 400 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 9:00 @ 20C

Guildwood in February
Pentax 67 – Super-Takumar 6×7 55mm 1:3.5 – Fuji Neopan Acros 100 @ ASA-80 – Rodinal (1+50) 13:30 @ 20C

New Film: Cinestill 800T in 120
Bill Smith recently had the chance to take a test run with the latest offering from Cinestill, their 800T film in 120. For those who don’t know Cinestill releases a line of film that is Kodak Vision3 motion picture film but during their rolling process removes the Remjet layer leaving a regular C-41 film. Now you can easily remove the Remjet layer in home processing or send it away to a couple of labs around the USA that do the ECN-2 process. You can even do a home ECN-2 process, but with Cinestill film, you don’t have to worry about all that.

Mamiya C220F – Mamiya-Sekor 80mm 1:2.8 – Cinestill 800T Alpha

Mamiya C220F – Mamiya-Sekor 80mm 1:2.8 – Cinestill 800T Alpha

Mamiya C220F – Mamiya-Sekor 80mm 1:2.8 – Cinestill 800T Alpha

Looking for a good spot to get your gear and material fix…check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, Film Plus, Belle Arte Camera and Camtech, if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario. In Guelph there’s Pond’s FotoSource For those further north you can visit Foto Art Camera in Owen Sound. On the West Coast (British Columbia) check out Beau Photo Supply. Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Also you can connect with us through email: classiccamerarevivial[at]gmail[dot]com or by Facebook, we’re at Classic Camera Revival or even Twitter @ccamerarevival

CCR Review 11 – Pentax 645

While generally an underdog camera in the 6×4.5 market, the Pentax 645 is by far my favourite of all the cameras within the line. Probably because you don’t see many of them kicking around. I know of only three other photographers in my area that use the camera. But unlike its contemporaries this wasn’t a system camera. You got the body and that was it there was little you could do. But because of that you got a camera that had a built in light meter, motordrive, and grip. Plus the backing of some fantastic optics!

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645
While a bit bulky the Pentax 645 is a well rounded medium format SLR.

The Dirt
Maker: Pentax
Model: 645
Type: Medium Format (120/220) Single Lens Reflex, 6×4.5
Lens: Interchangeable, Pentax K-Mount (645)
Year of Manufacture: 1984

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645

The Good
This is a clean and easy to use camera, and it’s ready to go in all modes right out of the box. And it’s a workhorse. The built in grip, eye-level finder, and drive make it the perfect camera for weddings, photojournalism, or even generally carry around. I often describe it as my point-and-shoot medium format camera. Another nice feature on this camera is the dual tripod sockets. This means that when the camera is being used with a tripod you can easily switch from landscape to portrait mode by moving the camera rather than adjusting the tripod. Power for the camera comes from six AA batteries, which again seems like a lot but it also means you can get batteries for it pretty much anywhere in the world. And finally the line of lenses avalible for the camera is excellent, my personal favourite is the 35mm f/3.5 probably one of the best medium format ultra-wide lenses out there with zero distortion! Plus all the old manual focus lenses will work with the newer autofocus models (645n and 645nII).

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645

The Bad
Probably the one thing that makes this camera an underdog is unlike the Maymia, Bronica, and Contax systems the Pentax 645 is not a system camera, what you get in the box is your camera. You can’t remove the eye-level finder, grip, or drive. The film is held in inserts rather than magazines so even swapping between rolls is impossible. The size/shape of the camera does make it an awkward camera to pack in a standard or smaller camera bag or backpack. While the average photographer may not need this, the camera only has a 1/60″ flash sync speed so working with strobes may be difficult as well.

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645

CCR - Review 11 - Pentax 645

The Low Down
If you’re looking for an easy way to get into medium format photography some will suggest the Mamyia m645 system, which is a great camera (and I’ll probably review one later on in this series) but for someone who needs a little helping hand, the Pentax 645 is great, any model. While the 645 is limited to a center-weighted meter, the 645n and nII bring in a great matrix (average) metering system which is (according to those who’ve used it) on par with the meter in the Nikon F4. Plus being an underdog camera you can probably get a good system on the cheap and have little contest in getting it. Just make sure that you get the 120 film inserts rather than 220. You’ll really only need one.

All Photos shot in Alisa Craig and Strathroy Ontario respectivly.
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Ilford Delta 100 @ ASA-50 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 13:00 @ 20C

Toronto Film Shooters Meetup – Fall 2013

Back in the Summer there was a call out for unofficial FPP (Film Photography Project) meetups. As I do volunteer work for the FPP I took it upon myself to start organizing ones in Southern Ontario, but being busy I decided, hey why not just host one a season. Cross Promoting the event to APUG, and I settled on “Toronto Film Shooters Meetup” the Summer 2013 event was a good one, we took a very hot afternoon to wander around the Don Valley Brick Works. So for the fall at the suggestion of two other FPP fans in the area, Mike and John, for the Fall event we settled on Kleinburg, Ontario. Although the group was small (five of us) and the weather sucked, we still have a good time getting out doing some shooting and chatting. I took out two cameras to test for donation to the FPP, a Minolta X-700 and a Pentax ME Super. Both cameras I have used in the past, but happened across a couple more from family and friends, but not needing to add other 35mm SLRs to the mix, I simply used them on the walk to test make sure they worked before passing them along.

Toronto Film Shooters Meetup - Oct 2013

Toronto Film Shooters Meetup - Oct 2013

Toronto Film Shooters Meetup - Oct 2013

Toronto Film Shooters Meetup - Oct 2013

Toronto Film Shooters Meet - October 2013

Toronto Film Shooters Meet - October 2013

Toronto Film Shooters Meet - October 2013

Toronto Film Shooters Meet - October 2013

1-4: Minolta X-700 – Minolta MD 50mm 1:1.7 (Yellow K2 filter) – Kodak Plus-X (ASA-125) – Xtol (1+1) 8:15 @ 20C
5-8: Pentax ME Super – SMC Pentax M 50mm 1:2 (Yellow K2 filter) – ORWO NP55 (ASA-50) – HC-110 Dil. B 6:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 – Fort Meigs

You don’t want to visit Fort Meigs after a rain fall, trust me on this one. After a heavy rainfall the former supply depot becomes a swamp. Fort Meigs was one of many forts built through the mid-west through later part of 1812 and into the winter of 1813 to provide fallback and supplies for the advancing Army of the Northwest. Meigs however, being the one furthest north had the distinction of being the largest, and remains the largest palisade walled fort in North America.

Project:1812 - Fort Meigs
One of the blockhouses along the wall, unlike other blockhouses these were not designed to house troops, but rather serve only as a defensive strong point. Often a cannon was mounted on the ground floor.

Built under the orders of General William Henry Harrison in the winter of 1813 on the bank of the Miami River as a supply depot for the newly formed Army of the Northwest and named after Ohio governor Return Jonathan Meigs Junior. Meigs had been an important ally to General Harrison during early conflicts with supplies and militia support. The newly constructed Fort Meigs was to serve as a supply depot and staging area for the planned invasion of Upper Canada in 1813, a palisade wall enclosed an area of ten acres, seven blockhouses served as defensive strong points, many mounting canon, five additional artillery batteries, two magazines, and various other support buildings needed to support the garrison of 2,000 troops. But the one unique feature of Fort Meigs was the 12 foot tall traverses through the interior of the fort, to protect against cannon balls, a feature that would later save the garrison.

Project:1812 - Fort Meigs
Looking along the Palisade Wall

Fort Meigs was laid siege to by the British twice in 1813. The first and deadlier siege was from April 26th to May 9th of 1813. Forces under the command of General Procter attempted to seize and secure the fort. The interior traverses kept the British cannon balls from doing serious damage to the fort’s buildings and troops, and a raid by Kentucky riflemen made Procter’s siege useless. Bogged down by rain Procter lifted the siege and retreated back to Detroit. A second siege in July of 1813 also failed without doing any damage. On September 10th, 1813 General Harrison marched north and took with him most of the garrison at Meigs, the fort itself was disassembled, the ten acre fort was reduced to a simple square palisade wall with a single blockhouse, and a small garrison to keep the British from gaining a foothold in the area.

Project:1812 - Fort Meigs
The 1908 Memorial

After the peace treaty was signed in February of 1815 many of the fort’s further south waned, and by May of 1815 the army had abandoned the old fort. Shortly after this the palisade wall and blockhouse burned to the ground, either by the army or by squatters. The whole area was purchased by Timothy Hayes, the area was used as a pasture for livestock, as Hayes and subsequently his family did not want to disturb the former fort lands and battleground. William Henry Harrison returned there in 1840 during this presidential run, and held a rally at the site of the former fortification he had commanded. Harrison’s rally was a success and he did win the presidency. Civil War veterans during a rally in nearby Toledo, OH decided to build a monument on the site in 1908 to the brave defenders of Fort Meigs. The Hayes family sold the land to the Ohio Historical Society in 1960 and by 1974 the society had rebuilt Fort Meigs to its original 1813 configuration, complete with blockhouses, batteries, palisade wall, and even the traverses (although they’re not 12 feet tall anymore).

Project:1812 - Fort Meigs
The modern visitor centre.

Written with Files from:
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers
Web: www.fortmeigs.org/history/
Web: www.ohiohistory.org/museums-and-historic-sites/museum–historic-sites-by-name/fort-meigs/history

Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Kodak Tri-X Pan (320TXP)
Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:30 @ 20C

Photostock Pt. 3 – The Location

Ontario is beautiful, there’s no changing that, but sometimes you leave and go someplace else and only find that the same beauty you so like in the north can be found elsewhere, that’s exactly how I felt when I drove through Northern Michigan. I feel the state gets a bad rap because of places like Detroit and Flint (New Jersey is the same way), but there is incredable beauty to be found in the northern part of the state. You will be treated to miles of wooded areas, quant villages, friendly people, and sunsets…well sunsets.

Cross Village Port
The beach and port at Cross Village. A quick stop, before returning to the Birchwood.

The Harbor.
Harbor Springs, now a favourite town of mine. Plus a late night fudge shop helps alot.

Fort Michilimackinac - 1715-1780
Fort Michilimackinac a french outpost taken by the British in the Seven Years War, destroyed with a new fort was built out on the island.

Horses at Dusk
There was a horse paddock next to the Birchwood, which gave us a good chance to grab photos.

Petosky Harbor
The harbor in Petosky, sadly I wasn’t able to spend too much time here. Maybe next year.

Photostock 2012
Fence line along the M-119

Playing with ORWO

Photostock 2012
I did promise you a sunset. And here it is.

Project:1812 – Fort Mississauga

When the Americans retreated across the river in December of 1813 they left nothing but a charred ruin of the town of Newark (Today’s Niagara-On-The-Lake) and Fort George. Left with no fortifications in the area, General Drummond immediately ordered the capture of Fort Niagara (which was a huge success) and the construction of new fortifications to defend the Canadian Side of the mouth of the Niagara River. Drummond, quick to realize that Fort George was too distant to command the river mouth ordered the new fort be constructed closer to Lake Ontario.

Niagara-On-The-Lake - November 2016
Fort Mississauga as seen upon your path up to the fort through the Golf Course
Nikon FA – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Kodak Panatomic-X @ ASA-32 – Blazinal (1+50) 10:00 @ 20C

Construction of the new Fort Mississauga commenced in spring of 1814. It consisted of a brick blockhouse built from materials salvaged from the old Lighthouse and the ruins of Newark; surrounded by an earthwork wall with two casemates acting as magazines, and a single stone gate on the side opposite from the river. Several smaller wooden structures were built inside the walls to house the officers and troops garrisoning the fort. Under the direction of the Royal Engineers, the Corps of Freemen of Colour (The Coloured Corps) constructed the new fort between 1814 and 1816. Despite this, the fort continued to see a garrison through the rough later half of the 19th century. The Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837, border disputes with the United States in 1854, and the American Civil War, then finally the Fenian Raids in 1866. By 1870 the need to maintain Fort Mississauga had cooled down, and relations between the newly created Dominion of Canada and the United States had improved vastly. The militia continued to operate the fort as a summer training camp. During the first half of the twentieth century, the fort became part of the larger Camp Niagara, which included old Fort George and Butler’s Barracks. The fort would see service as a training ground for the first, second, and Korean wars.

Project:1812 - Fort Mississauga
A detailed view of the Blockhouse
Bronica SQ-Ai – Zenzanon-PS 65mm 1:4 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – HC-110 Dil. B 7:00 @ 20C

Fort Mississauga’s blockhouse and earthworks still stand today, surrounded by the oldest golf course in Canada. While it does not have staff on the site, it is open to the public. You are welcome to explore the area inside the earthworks. The blockhouse remains closed to the public and recently saw some vandalism. If you want a real trip back in time, be sure to walk through the river access Sallyport and be sure to note the names and dates carved into the brick that hasn’t been covered up by graffiti.

The Tower
A better view of the interior of the fort, the Blockhouse is not open to the public.
Nikon D300 – AF-S Nikkor 17-55mm 1:2.8G DX

With Files from:
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers
Web: war1812.tripod.com/fortmiss.html
Web: www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng/Topic/25
Web: www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/on/fortgeorge/natcul/natcul2b.aspx

Project:1812 – The Battle of Fort George

After a series of defeats in the first year of the war, the American government needed a bold new plan. Plans made in early 1813 in Washington DC called for an all out invasion of Upper Canada on all fronts. Forces stationed at Sacket’s Harbor would set out and take Kingston (the major Provincial Marine base in Upper Canada), York (the Capital of Upper Canada), and Fort Erie. Once those three objectives where taken, they would march on the headquarters of the British Army in Upper Canada, Fort George located in Newark (modern day Niagara-On-The-Lake). General Henry Dearborn quickly called off the attack on Kingston, after getting a (false) report that close to 8,000 British regulars had been stationed there. Instead Dearborn went ahead and attacked York at the end of April of 1813 capturing and burning the town, then turned his attention towards Fort George.

Project:1812 - Fort George
The central blockhouse at Fort George

General John Vincent had been given command of the British forces along the Niagara Peninsula he commanded a force of 1,000 regulars, 50 native warriors, and 300 militia. The British regulars stationed there were made up of the 8th (The King’s) Regiment of Foot, the 49th Regiment of Foot, the Glengarry Light Infantry, and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The trouble was that although Vincent knew that an attack was coming, he just didn’t know where the invading forces would land. With cannon fire between Fort George and Fort Niagara since the start of the conflict, Vincent assumed that any invading force would arrive under the cover the Niagara’s guns. But not wanting to leave an open area split his force into three groups, placing a majority at the river, another group west of Newark at the lakeshore, and the remaining forces inside Fort George. What Vincent didn’t know was that the Americans had massed a force of 4,000 troops.

Lake Ontario
Fort Niagara across the river

On May 25th the American guns opened up on Fort George and the British shore batteries, the attack was coming, Vincent knew this, but there was still no indication where the Americans were going to land. That became clear on the morning of the 27th, when a squadron of American ships sailed into range on the western side of the town, on the lake. By this point under two days of heavy bombardment Fort George had lost a few buildings to fire due to the heated shot being fired. The squadron under Lieutenant Oliver Hazard Perry managed to suppress the British Shore batteries giving time for Lieutenant Colonel Winfield Scott to lead the initial attack. Major Forsythe’s 1st US Rifle Regiment, the 15th US Infantry, and members of the 2nd US Artillery (fighting as infantry) waded ashore only to be met with a bayonet charge from the Glengarry Light Infantry, even Lt. Col Scott had to fight off a soldier, the Royal Newfoundlanders joined in the charge also but grape shot from Perry’s Squadron on the lake shattered the group forcing them to fall back. With the shore batteries suppressed Commodore Chauncey sailed his flagship the USS General Pike and proceeded to bombard Fort George with deadly results. The defenders managed to regroup outside of the fort linking up with the remaining defenders positioned near the river and forced Scott’s troops back into Newark, only to be again cut to pieces by the ships on the river and the next wave of American troops having landed.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Fort George
A public golf course now occupies the site of the initial engagements of the Battle of Fort George. The public can visit the historic markers, just watch out for golfers.

General Vincent soon found himself outgunned, outnumbered, and outflanked. And with more American troops on their way he made the only call he could, retreat. Leaving a small force behind who destroyed what was left of the ammunition (the explosion knocked Scott from his horse breaking his collar bone) and spiking the guns Vincent and the remaining forces retreated back to Queenston, then Beaver Dams and finally the British fortifications at Burlington Heights. Along the way they were joined by the garrison from Fort Erie whom had fallen back as well upon a warning Vincent had sent them. The only saving grace was the delay of the US Dragoons, who were sent to cut off Vincent’s escape route. The British had lost the Niagara Peninsula to the Americans who quickly established themselves using Fort George as a base to probe the British lines. Bu they failed to exploit this advantage, under Dearborn they moved slowly giving the British time to regroup, engagements at Stoney Creek and Beaver Dams forced them out, and by the winter of 1813 they had fallen back across the river, leaving Fort George, and the town of Newark in ruins, having burned Newark to the ground. Drummond struck back, as British forces crossed the river burning Buffalo, several other towns to the ground and taking Fort Niagara at bayonet point by December of 1813.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Fort George
The memorial cairn marking the American’s landing site.

Today a majority of the battlefield is covered by the town of Niagara-On-The-Lake and a golf course, a cairn marks the approximate landing point of the initial attack on Fort George at the western side of the course. Fort George was rebuilt in the 1930s, and is open to the public as a museum and national historic site; the powder magazine in the fort is the original one. Across the river Fort Niagara is also open to the public as a historic site and museum.

With files from:
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers

Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 75mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Plus-X Pan, Kodak Tri-X Pan, Ilford FP4+

Project:1812 – Battle of Stoney Creek

By the end of May 1813 the Americans had overrun the entire Niagara Peninsula. American troops occupied the town of Newark and Fort George, Chauncey, and Perry patrolled the Niagara River and Lake Erie with little resistance from the Provincial Marine. York was in ashes, and the only British strong point left was Burlington Heights. But the Americans knew that if they were to take all of Upper Canada, the fortifications at Burlington Heights must fall.

Project:1812 - Burlington Heights
Burlington Heights as it stands today, some of the earthworks remain in the cemetary on York Street in Hamilton, ON.

In early June of 1813 a force of 3,400 troops marched on Burlington Heights and by June 4th had reached 40-mile creek near what is today Stoney Creek, and made camp on the Gage Farm, the farmhouse serving as Headquarters for Generals William H Winder and John Chandler. But the one thing that the Americans didn’t realize was that the British knew they were coming, they knew their numbers, and how to get past the sentries. Earlier in the day the American column had been spotted by a local boy, Billy Green who went to tell his cousin, Isaac Corman. Corman had just been released as a prisoner of the Americans, after convincing them that he (Corman) was a cousin of William Henry Harrison, an American General. Corman had been given the password to get past the sentries after promising not to reveal this to the British. But Corman did tell this password to Billy. Green immediately took this to the General Vincent at Burlington Heights. Vincent sent a force of 700 troops under Lieutenant Colonel John Harvey to probe the American lines. One of Harvey’s officers, Lieutenant FitzGibbon infiltrated the American camp in disguise to scout out their numbers and positioning.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Stoney Creek
Reenactors representing the 8th (The King’s) Regiment of Foot, and the Royal Scots take the field at the Stoney Creek Reenactment, June 2012.

Harvey’s troops, along with General Vincent marched from Burlington Heights under the cover of night on June 5th, 1813 to the American Camp. The column even removed their flints; with bayonets fixed they aimed to take out any sentries or pickets by stealth. They achieved this fairly well taking two sentries without raising an alarm, but when they got into an area of the camp where they expected to find a surprised 25th US Infantry, they only found civilians and cooks, the soldiers had moved to a better position. A cheer from the British raised the alarm when it was overheard by an American officer, with the element of surprise lost, the British soon found themselves outnumbered. The Americans quickly organized themselves and having the high ground began to pour lead into the floundering British lines. Despite many attempts the British could not break through the American lines until they did it for them. The 5th US Infantry was called out to protect the failing left flank, leaving enough of a gap for the 49th Regiment of Foot under Major Plenderleath to charge the American guns. With the Americans now disorganized, their own cavalry charged US Lines and dawn breaking, the British with both Generals Winder and Chandler as prisoners withdrew into the woods to hide their numbers. And despite holding superior numbers the Americans withdrew as well.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Stoney Creek
A good volley!

The entire battle lasted all of forty-five minutes; the British took 7 officers prisoners, along with 93 enlisted men, but suffered 23 deaths, 136 wounded, 3 missing, and 52 captured. The Americans suffered 17 deaths and 38 wounded. General Vincent, thinking all was lost, rode off into the night. He was later found missing his hat, sword, and horse. The Americans withdrew further back only to be chased back to Fort George when a Royal Navy squadron appeared off the shore of Lake Ontario (Commodore Chauncey’s Squadron having been recalled to Sacket’s Harbor to repulse a failed British attack there). Stoney Creek was the furthest any American Army made it into Upper Canada, and they never made it that far again. After suffering another defeat at Beaver Dams at the hands of FitzGibbon they holed up in Fort George and then scattered back across the Niagara River near the end of 1813.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Stoney Creek
The Crown Forces Fife and Drum Corps.

Today the site of the battle of Stoney Creek is marked by a massive tower built in 1913 at the 100 year anniversary of the battle, the Gage Farmhouse still stands and the grounds and farmhouse, now called Battlefield house is open to the public as a museum and historic site. Each year on the first weekend of June a re-enactment of the battle takes place.

With Files from:
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers

Photos: Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 80-160mm 1:4.5 – Kodak Portra 400 @ ISO-800 (no push in development)

Project:1812 – Fort Erie

With the annual siege reenactment coming up this weekend, I figured I may as well introduce you, my readers to the Fort that is on the site of Canada’s bloodiest battle, and the last major engagment in Upper Canada from the War of 1812, Fort Erie. The old Fort is located in the town that bears its name, Fort Erie. Located close to the lake, the fort is open to the public and is maintained by the Niagara Parks Commission. For more information about the old fort you can visit their website at: www.niagaraparks.com/old-fort-erie/index.html

Front Gate
The outer gates with a draw bridge of Fort Erie

Fort Erie was one of several forts that were built along the Niagara Peninsula as part of the defense of Upper Canada at the close of the 18th century. The site has actually housed three forts. The first two forts, built 1764 and 1779 respectively where both destroyed by winter storms sweeping off Lake Erie. In 1803 it was decided to move the site of the fort further inland by fifty yards, and construction began on a new masonry fort. But construction was slow, and sporadic. And when was declared in 1812, Fort Erie was far from complete and only had a small garrison.

The Fort
Between 1937 and 1939 the fort was restored to what it would have looked like during the War of 1812.

Thankfully the American’s did not make an attempt to seize the fort during the first year of the war with most of the action happening out on the western front of Upper Canada and the failed invasion attempt at Queenston. Soldiers from Erie were sent out to engage and take back the battery at Frenchman’s Creek. But in 1813, when Fort George fell to the Americans at the end of May, the garrison at Fort Erie also fell back to Burlington Heights, destroying the incomplete fort in the process. American forces did not make an effort to reconstruct the ruins, but rather occupied them, only to be driven out again during the winter campaign of 1813 that saw the American’s ejected from the peninsula. After retaking the fort, the British put a more concentrated effort into rebuilding Fort Erie, leaving the task in the hands of a much larger garrison from the 8th (The King’s) Regiment of Foot with Major Buck in command of the fort. But when the Americans once again arrived in force on July 3rd, 1814, the fort was taken with little effort. It was the Americans that finally completed Fort Erie, expanding its defenses, and using it as a base of operations for their campaign across the Niagara Peninsula. By August 1814 the fort was near impregnable as the British drew their siege lines to remove the Americans from Upper Canada once again. But multiple bloody attempts by the British only ended in failure, and by September of 1814 they fell back to their own strong point at Chippawa. The weather and the British invasion of the eastern seaboard of the United States at the end of 1814 forced the Americans to retreat across the river in November. During the retreat they destroyed the fort leaving it in ruins.

Unlike many of the surviving forts from the era, Erie features two masonry blockhouses.

After 1815 the British maintained a garrison in the ruins of Fort Erie, but the fort itself was never rebuilt completely, and eventually by the mid 19th century the garrison was removed as well. The fort was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad helping escaped slaves from the United States find freedom in Canada. When the Fenian Brotherhood was conducting raids through Canada in 1866 they used the old Fort ruins as a base for their operations before their defeat at the hands of the Incorporated Canadian Militia. The ruins became a popular spot for the public to gather and the grounds as a picnic spot for the residences of the town of Fort Erie that had grown up around the old fortifications. Even author Mark Twain and the Prince of Wales (Edward VII) visited the grounds when they were in Canada. Restoration efforts began in 1937 to rebuild the fort to the configuration it was in during 1812 to 1814, it was reopened to the public as a museum and historic site on July 1st, 1939. During the restoration a mass grave was discovered of both American and British soldiers. In 2011 major renovations in and around the fort made it more accessible to the public and a new visitors centre was completed for the Bicentennial years. During the second weekend in August the Fort hosts reenactors from both Canada and the United States who recreate the bloody siege of 1814.

As part of the 2011 renovation, staff constructed a typical British seige battery which visitors can go see. Reenactors representing the Royal Artillery will often camp here during the August reenactment.

With Files from:
Web: www.niagaraparks.com/old-fort-erie/history.html
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers

Photos: Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Kodak Plus-X Pan (PXP)

Project:1812 – Laura Secord

What do chocolate and the war of 1812 have in common; just one thing, a name, Laura Secord. Many people today hear the name Laura Secord and think of the Canadian confectionary company, but there was a hero behind that name. But unlike other heroes from the war whose names were praised right after their great victories, Laura lived in relative obscurity until decades after the war had ended. Born Laura Ingersoll on the 13th of September 1775 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, she was the eldest of four born to Thomas Ingersoll and Elizabeth Dewey. When she was eight her mother passed away, her father remarried twice, greatly expanding the family. After the American War of Independence the Ingersoll’s settled in Upper Canada. While they were living in Queenston, Laura met James Secord, a shopkeeper in the town, and in 1797 they were married, settling first in St. David’s but soon moved back to Queenston just before the start of the War of 1812. At the start of the conflict James served as a sergeant in the 1st Lincoln Militia where he saw action at the battle of Queenston Heights, and was forced to stay at home over the course of the next year.

Project:1812 - Queenston (The Heights)
The Secord home in Queenston, ON

By the summer of 1813 American forces had again overrun much of the Niagara Peninsula and on a June evening that year, several American officers were billeted at the Secord’s home. They spoke loudly of their plans to march on a British officer that had been leading raids against their forces from DeCew house and was being a thorn in their side since Stoney Creek. Both James and Laura overheard this conversation, but with James still recovering from his injuries it was Laura who took it upon herself to make the journey to warn the British. The direct route was twelve miles, but wanting to avoid American entanglements, Laura took a twenty mile journey instead. Leaving early, she went first to St. David’s and had her cousin Elizabeth Secord join her, but by Shipman’s Corners (modern day St. Catherines), Elizabeth was far too tired to carry on. Laura however pressed on, following the route of the Twelve Mile River, crossing the river at a fallen log, she stumbled into a Native Camp, she was by this point lost and scared. Explaining to the natives what she had heard, they took her to Lieutenant James FitzGibbon at DeCew House, the very officer the Americans were seeking to destroy. FitzGibbon used her information and was able to secure a victory against the Americans at what is known as the Battle of Beaverdams.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Beaver Dams
The DeCew house ruins where Laura Secord met James FitzGibbon.

But Laura’s name was never mentioned in the aftermath of the great victory, and she was lost to history. At the end of the war, her husband received a small pension from the government for his service and wound during the war. Even with the support of James FitzGibbon, requests for support from the colonial government at York fell on deaf ears. After James’ death in 1841, Laura was left with no financial support. But it was in 1860 during the visit of the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) that Laura’s story came to the public eye. Upon his return to England he sent Laura a reward of one hundred pounds (7,330 pounds today). Laura Secord passed away three years later, her story now known. She is buried next to her husband at Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls.

Project:1812 - Battle of Lundy's Lane
A monument to Laura Secord at Lundy’s Lane (Drummond Hill). Laura and her Husband are burried there, however I was unable to locate their grave markers.

Laura’s story doesn’t stop there; her fame only grew after her death. Songs, poems, and dramatic interpretations were being produced about Laura Secord. She became a genuine folk hero. And like any hero legends about her journey soon began to circle. The legends stated that Laura brought a cow along as camouflage, or that she did the entire journey at night (she actually left early in the day on June 23rd), or that she did it all barefoot, all of which have been proven to be false. There were also detractors, stating that her journey was in vain, or completely unnecessary. But FitzGibbon’s letters of support of the Secord’s support requests in the 1820s secured Laura’s place in history as one of the hero’s of the Battle of Beaverdams. Memorials to her sprang up in the early 20th century both at Lundy’s Lane (Drummond Hill Cemetery), and Queenston Heights. The chocolate company that bears her name was established in 1913, and was instrumental in rebuilding and restoring the Secord home in Queenston in 1971. Queenston is also home to Laura Secord Public School, which is to become an additional space for Willowbank School of Restoration Arts. Laura Secord remains a well known folk hero to this day, her image on postage stamps, and even a statue in Ottawa among the other greats of Canada’s proud history.

Project:1812 - Queenston (The Heights)
Laura Secord Public School in Queenston, ON. Hopefully the name sticks when Willowbrank moves in.

Photos: Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Kodak Tri-X 400, Ilford HP5+, and Kodak Plus-X Pan

With Files from:
Web: www.warof1812.ca/laurasecord.htm
Web: www.niagaraparks.com/heritage-trail/laura-secord-homestead-history.html