Niagara Ready for its Close-up

Many thanks to Linda Bolla (photos and text) and Sally Nuckles (photos) for their contributions to this post.

In August, the US Brig Niagara, her sailing crew, and the Erie Maritime Museum's volunteer Ship's Company participated in the filming of a new documentary about the War of 1812.

The War of 1812 is a two-hour film history currently in production by WNED (Buffalo, NY) and Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc. in conjunction with WETA (Washington, DC). Larry Hott and his company have been filming at many of the War of 1812 historic sites and events this past summer, both in the United States and Canada, using living history events to capture battle scenes and paint a more authentic picture. The August 10-11 shoot on Niagara was certainly one of the most interesting the film crew has experienced!

Many of the crew and volunteers doubled as on-screen and off-screen characters and still did all the work needed to sail Niagara throughout the day.

Women were not part of Niagara’s sailing crew during the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813 (we just celebrated the anniversary yesterday, Sept. 10), but today’s ship carries both men and women as sailors. Niagara is the premier sailing school vessel in the U.S. and attracts a wide array of people wanting to learn how to sail wooden ships. Of course, it’s also possible to enlist for a one-day experience to get just a taste of sailing the open sea.

The documentary is scheduled to air on public television in the fall of 2011, not long before the start of the bicentennial of the war (the War of 1812 ran from 1812 to 1815). One of the least studied wars in U.S. history, the War of 1812 was the first test of the new nation’s ability to deal with former allies and foes, France and Great Britain, as an equal. For those of you who want to read more about it (we all should), there’s a great list of resources here.


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