Day 63 – August 8 – Smiths Falls, ON to Cobourg, ON

We only had about a three hour drive from Smiths Falls, perhaps shorter if we took the freeway. We, of course, drove quieter backroads south to Kingston on the shore of Lake Ontario before we headed west along the coast to Cobourg.

Kingston is the site of Fort Henry which was built during the War of 1812, and about twenty years later, became a vital player in the protection of the new Rideau Canal waterway system.

Troop inspection.

Displays of the rooms of the personnel of the fort lined one side of the huge parade ground. I have taken the basic information from the window signs and used it for explanations.

An example of a Transient Officer’s Quarters. Regiments rotated through Kingston about every two yers and officers owned light, transportable furniture, called campaign furniture to make moving efficient and easy. As Fort Henry was never filled to capacity, each officer had a room to himself, whereas in many other postings two officers would often share a room this size.

A Senior Officer’s Quarters. Senior Officers would be men from the upper classes of British society. Unlike enlisted soldiers, officers could wear civilian clothing while off duty and were allowed to partake in activities in the town of Kingston. The majority of officers were from rural backgrounds where there was a lack of acceptable occupations for sons of the wealthy. Three choices for a career would be the army, the church or civil service. For many, the army, was the first choice as it offered abundant opportunities for sporting and social enjoyment.

Commandant’s Quarters. The Commanding officer was usually a Captain, or rarely, a Major. He was responsible for the daily operation of the Fort and there would be a considerable amout of paperwork required, much of it being done in his personal quarters, which also functioned as his office. If an officer was married, his wife and family would not be in residence at Fort Henry, instead living in private quarters in Kingston, or overseas in Britain.

This was the social hub of the Officer’s Mess. Officers would relax while off duty and socialize here following meals. Officers were expected to participate in the social life in whichever town they were stationed and would have hosted invited guests in this room.

The tradition of the Officer’s Mess was a strong one in the British Army. Officers were expected to dine in the mess most evenings of the week, although exceptions were made for those who were married and lived outside Fort Henry. The Mess was the center of social activities for the bachelor officers. The silverware, china, trophies, and furniture were all part of the mess and paid for and maintained by the officers at their own expense.

The preparation of officer’s meals took place in the Messman’s Room under the supervision of the Messman, who was usually a Serjeant nearing the end his service and employed by the officers to run the mess efficiently and oversee training and duties of the mess servants. The food was cooked in the Mess Kitchen through the adjacent passageway and then brought to this room to be carved and laid out on serving platters. Any sauces and side dishes would be prepared here. The Messman would coordinate the mess servants who would serve the various courses.

The guns were mounted between outer and inner walls at the base of the fort, a level below the quarters, supply rooms and parade ground. The stairs down, the floors, and the walls and ceilings of every gun station were wet. The groundwater just seeps through the mortar. It is freezing cold down here in winter.

Soldier’s wives quarters.

There were two bakeries manned by hired civilian bakers. They could bake 120 loaves of bread at a time. The soldiers received 1 pound of whole wheat bread per day as their ration, served at the noon meal which was the main meal of the day. They also received 3/4 pound of meat per day, including any bone and gristle.

The Soldier’s Cookhouse was where the men cooked their main meals. Meals were cooked in cauldrons and usually consisted of boiling meat (salt beef) and potatoes into a stew. Vegetables were purchased at the expense of the men and were also boiled in a mesh bag. The rotating task of being company’s cook was undertaken by the single men of the Company. They began after the evening meal on Saturday and continued for one week. The food was expected to be ready on time, not too early and not too late.

John was taking a photo through the gun barrel.

The parade ground is huge even with all the bleachers set up in it.

He is doing a firing demonstration in the dry moat between the Advance Battery and the main fort.

As we walked back into the Advance Battery to leave the fort these two played a tune on their fifes.

Kingston from the walkway between the parking lot and the fort entrance.

A nice clocktower in Kingston.

We drove along route 2 for a couple of hours to Cobourg and found our friend Pat’s apartment. We enjoyed a delicious dinner with her, and her sister, and brother-in-law before visiting for a bit and heading to bed.

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