Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Saturday, July 29, 2006



You could say that our visit to Fort George started with a bang.
Right after I took their photo with Bao, the Brits excused themselves and ambled off to fire their cannon. (Okay, they aren’t Brits. They’re Canadians, dressed up as Brits) They fire the cannon every day, at noon. And you wouldn’t believe the noise. It scared a couple of the little kids. It scared Bao. It even scared me.
Mind you, my nerves were already rattled. The machine that dispenses parking permits had eaten my credit card, and we’d had to go searching for help. It wasn’t a big deal. Apparently, it happens all the time.
Fort George is a collection of unprepossessing, two-storey wooden buildings upon rolling, green lawns within a wooden stockade. Unlike the French and the Spanish, the English didn’t go in for big, imposing fortresses. This one is a reproduction. The original was completed in 1799 to guard the strategic river mouth of what was then called Newark. I quote from the guidebook: “The strong presence of the British military at Fort George, the fort’s well-trained and well-organized garrison, the strategic supply routes, and the gallant commander in chief Major-General Sir Isaac Brook, fostered a sense of security. On the other hand, the presence in the Niagara region of many American-born settlers, whose loyalty was questionable, was cause for concern.”
The concern proved to be justified. In 1813, American artillery batteries and warships reduced Fort George to a smoking ruin. They burnt the town, as well “driving the inhabitants out into a fierce winter storm.” No wonder Canadians don’t love the Yanks!
The restored Fort George features a number of staff dressed up in historically accurate 18th century costume, giving you an uncannily realistic idea of what day to day life in the fort must have been like for those who lived and worked there.
Leaving Fort George, Bao and I went on to a matinee performance of Henry James’ The Heiress. (Remember the film, starring Olivia de Havilland as Catherine?) It was fabulous. All nine of the productions I’ve seen, both here and in Stratford, have been superlative.
The Shaw Festival began in 1962, which makes it ten years younger than its Stratford counterpart, but I have to tell you, the quality of the acting, direction and production is every bit as good here as it was there. Plus, there are more shops here. And wineries. And Bao and I were welcome in all the theatres, and allowed to see all the plays. So if you’re travelling with a service animal and only have time for one festival, I’d say Niagara on the Lake is the better choice.
As for Bao, he’s had his fill of theatre. He’s actually looking forward to a couple of peaceful days in the car as we head east, to Tanglewood.
If only he could drive, he’d be perfect.

1 Comments:

Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

C'mon, my friend, even without driving Bao is perfect. Just look at that picture!

10:32 AM

 

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