Who mourns the fallen soldiers of Ridgeway? Most Canadians have probably never heard of the Battle of Ridgeway, waged 150 years ago near Fort Erie, Ontario but what’s the Trudeau government’s excuse?
The 1866 battle saw Canadian patriots up against an invading force of about 800 Irish-Americans known as the Fenian Brotherhood who hoped to temporarily take Canada hostage to force the UK out of Ireland.
The Fenians were met by volunteer militias like the Queen’s Own Rifles and the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. They were shopkeepers, school teachers, university students and farm boys facing heavily-armed, battle-hardened Civil War Vets.
It was the first modern industrial-era battle fought by Canadians and the last one fought in Ontario against foreign invaders.
It proved enormously significant to Canada’s formation when the colonies realized they could defend themselves rather than rely on Britain. Canada was born just 13 months after the battle.
Not everyone forgot.
About 5,000 participated in the sesquicentennial events in Fort Erie earlier this month. It was a grand affair with several dignitaries attending, including Mayor Wayne Redekopof, NDP MPP Wayne Gates, and CPC MP Rob Nicholson.
Absent were any representatives of the Federal government.
The snub by the Trudeau Liberals was shocking. Given the importance of this battle to confederation, one would’ve expected perhaps the PM or at least the Minister of Defence to be there but they were AWOL.
I contacted Peter Vronsky, author of “Ridgeway: The American Fenian Invasion and the 1866 Battle That Made Canada”. He said not only did no federal minister attend but financial support from the Confederation celebration fund was refused on the grounds that commemorations will focus on “multiculturalism”, not military events, prompting Vronsky to quip:
“I guess the Irish invading Canada is not multicultural enough for them.”
Watch as I explain both the official excuses and the unspoken speculation for why the Liberals weren’t there.
Whatever the reason, celebrating men who made the ultimate sacrifice at Ridgeway should transcend politics.
That didn’t happen with the ruling Liberals and that’s a disgrace, especially for those who died 150 years ago fighting for this country.