Tuesday, October 4, 2011 – After a good night’s sleep and a breakfast of hot oatmeal, the cadets were ready to start the second day of their adventure – a three day exercise where students and faculty from Robert Land Academy, a private boy’s boarding school, traverse 90 kilometers of Ontario’s historic Niagara Region.
On this day, the constant rain from the prior day ensured that the trails remained muddy and slippery. However, as the group stepped off there was hope for better weather as the sun was trying to peak through the clouds.
Departing Camp Wetaskiwin in St. Catharines, the cadets and faculty of Robert Land Academy, Massannutten Military Academy, and a group of soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard navigated their way through the trails surrounding the scout camp, arriving at their pickup point about 30 minutes later. They boarded busses for a ride across the city of St. Catharines to the other side of the Welland Canal.
Once they departed the bus, the sun came out and groups made the rest of their way on foot; traversing trails, country roads, and sections of the Upper Canada Parkway and the Niagara Parkway, arriving at historic Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
Feet were sore however spirits were high as cadets entered the old fort. Everyone was excited by the opportunity to sleep in the solders’ barracks at Fort George. Built in 1796, this historic fort was once headquarters of the British army and the local militia and was the site of many battles during the war of 1812. The fort was captured by the Americans forces in early 1813 and later retaken by the British Army later that year. Today, the fort consists of earthworks, palisades, and internal structures which include the officers’ quarters, blockhouses, a stone powder magazine and other buildings. It is rumoured that the fort is heavily haunted, a story which both frightened and intrigued many of the boys sleeping over.
For the third and final day of the Fall Exercise, all cadets, faculty and soldiers will march together the final 13 kilometers from Fort George to Brock’s Monument at Queenston Heights. Along the way, groups will take turns pulling Robert Land Academy’s 1812 replica cannon along the route, finally pulling it up the heights to the monument. A ceremony, which includes the firing of the canon, will be held at Brock’s Monument and many of the boys who are new to the Academy will be promoted from the rank of Recruit to Cadet.
This article is part two of a three part series covering all three days of this challenging experience. Read our next article for stories and photos of the third and final day of the Robert Land Academy’s annual Fall Exercise.