Soldiers during 1812 re-enactment

The story of the War of 1812 comes to life at Backus Heritage Conservation Area on September 9 and 10, 2017 during the annual re-enactment event.  Although no actual battle took place on the grounds, the local area was the scene of skirmishes and American raids.

More than 200 soldiers and settlers set up camp in the Heritage Village for this popular event.  Visitors can learn first-hand by talking with soldiers and civilians about what was happening in Upper Canada during the War.  Activities take place daily from 10 am until 4 pm on Saturday and from 10 am until 4 pm on Sunday.

The weekend-long event includes:  military and civilian encampments; cannon and musket firing; drills; demonstrations; children’s mini militia and Sutlers Row.  Battle re-enactment staged at 2 pm each day is one of the highlights not to be missed.  

Watch scenes from the 2012 Backus re-enactment event.

Contact Backus Heritage Conservation Area at 519-586-2201 ext 228 for event details.

Re-enactors and Merchants

Picture of a canon being fired during re-enactment

Thanks to the volunteer re-enactors and merchants who help bring this time in Canadian history to life.  If you are a sutler or member of a regiment that is interested in particpating in the Backus 1812 Re-enactment event, contact the Curator at 519-586-2201 ext 228 or email backus1812@lprca.on.ca for information. 

1798 Backhouse Grist Mill

Soldiers marching in front of Backus Mill

Built in 1798, the Backhouse Mill escaped General McArthur’s raids during the War of 1812 and remained in operation until 1955 when it was purchased by the Big Creek Region Conservation Authority.  The survival of Backhouse Mill has become the stuff of legends. No one is quite sure why the Americans ignored John Backhouse's flourishing operation, although there are plenty of theories. 

During the War of 1812, many mills along Lake Erie were burned to the ground.  There are a number of stories as to how the Backhouse Mill escaped destruction.  Maybe it was hay stacks in nearby fields set ablaze to give the impression that the Mill was already burning.  Perhaps the American troops simply did not find the Mill given its location in a valley.  Other anecdotes include red coats in the woods and the bonds of the Masonic Order.  Whatever the reason, the Mill remained in the possession of the Backhouse/Backus family and served the community for another 140 years.

The Backhouse Mill's story during the War of 1812 - scenes from A Desert Between Us and Them.

Today visitors can step inside the old wooden mill, chat with the miller and learn how flour was produced more than 200 years ago. In 1998, the Backhouse Mill was designated a National Historic Site because it is one of the oldest and best preserved examples remaining in Canada of the small-scale, water-powered establishments found throughout much of the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries.