When I was 6 years old my parents took me to Old Fort York inToronto. At first being 6 this struck me as rather strange because it was to go look at old stuff that you couldn’t touch. To a 6 year old this was rather odd and potentially boring since it wasn’t a sand box with cars and what not that you could play with.
I should explain about Fort York. The fort that exists now isn’t the original for that was built by Sir John Graves Simcoe. That fort along with Government House was burned by the American in April of 1813. This was the fort that was built as the replacement at the end of the war of 1812 and it does contain the largest collection of early 19th century buildings inOntario. At one time LakeOntario lapped at its southern wall but time and land fill have changed that so the lake is now some distance away.
So anyway, when we walked into the fort I had a sense that something inside me changed as I began to look around. The first thing I noticed where the two staff dressed in uniforms of the King’s 8th of Foot. They marched around while other staff members took us on a tour of the building and explained the history of the fort. Later I watched the two King’s 8th fire a musket and a small canon and thinking to myself. . wow that’s cool I want to do that.
The end result of the afternoon was I became completely hooked on history. Now I’m not talking just hooked I’m talking hooked like in drug hooked. . .”history is the drug and I need to score.”
For me history is something that is a living thing. I look at artefacts, hold them in my hand, touch them and they speak. Historic sites, old battle fields, an old house down some back road, all have a voice that if you listen carefully you can hear. Years later I became a historic re-enactor portraying a Loyalist solder in the American Revolutionary War along with some War of 1812 thrown in.
That was 32 years ago and while I now shoot with a camera instead of a musket. I still get that feeling I had about history when I was 6.