Last weekend, we hit the road to check out the Tall Ships 1812 Tour in Sault Ste. Marie. Having read about this tour previously (it’s already stopped in Brockville, Toronto, Hamilton and St. Catharines), I knew we were in for a treat. What I didn’t know is how much of a treat it would be.
The Tall Ships 1812 Tour is sponsored by Redpath Sugar and is a special event taking place in Ontario, touring through 15 Ontario ports to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. You can tour these spectacular fleets, some of which are originals and others replicas of the same tall ships from the 1800’s. It’s ideal for families as they have all sorts of live musical performances, interactive experiences and programming just for kids.
Upon arrival, we were fitted with our VIP badges and free to roam the grounds. The kids were provided with their own passports to visit each of the ships. As you board these ships, the attendant stamps your passport with the ship’s own special stamp.
The first ship we looked at was the Lynx. It used to be a privateer schooner or naval schooner from the War of 1812, but now sails as a living history museum. The kids were amazed at the living quarters, the kitchen and the overall experience of the boat. It was unlike anything they’d every experienced at the had plenty of questions!
Next up was the Pride of Baltimore II, a reproduction of an 1812-era Baltimore Clipper topsail schooner. These ships were built for speed thanks to their V-shaped hull, designed to cut through the waves. Measuring 157 feet in length with a height of 107 feet, this was quite the sight. The crew on-board was friendly and happy to answer any and all questions we had. It was fun to watch the toddlers and kids look in amazement at the various aspects of this ship and quite something for the parents.
There is something that is awe-inspiring about a massive ship from past centuries. The U.S. Brig Niagara was built as a reproduction of the relief flagship of Commodore Olive Hazard Perry from the major naval battle of the War of 1812. In 1813 the ship had a crew of 155 men and now she sails with a crew of 40. The original 1813 timbers have been incorporated into her construction. This was by far our favorite ship and the largest at 198 feet long.
We were able to tour the galleys, a great fit for kids, however a squeeze when you are over 5 ft tall.
After the ship tour, we enjoyed an ongoing reinactment of the War of 1812 filled with history and fascinating story-telling.
It was very hot in the sun so we decided to hit the tents and spent most of the day enjoying music and traditional folk dance shows. Mini sailboat races. Chalk Drawings.
And a look at the tradition of fur trade. My daughter had her own thoughts on the matter as you can see from the video above.
We didn’t stay here long as she wasn’t fond of the skulls and fur displays.
There was a cannon firing demonstration that went on throughout the afternoon, however at 4 p.m. they treated the kids to a Candy Cannon! Filling a mini cannon with candy, they sent the kids to the hill and set the cannon off. You can just imagine their thrill when all of that candy came falling out of the sky. So fun!
I was beyond impressed at this spectacular event. My kids were thrilled with the entire experience which was both educational and entertaining. When I asked them what their favorite part was they said, “All of it!”. Each one of these events is different as are the activiites and entertainment offered at the variuos locations. Sault Ste. Marie raised the bar high though!
I highly recommend checking out the remaining events. The Tall Ships will hit Georgian Bay and Southwestern Ontario in August. You can view all of the dates and information by visiting tallships1812.ca.
Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary press passes and VIP tickets by Algoma Tourism in lieu of this review. All thoughts, opinions and experiences are my own.