North Tonawanda Mayor Robert G. Ortt and City of Tonawanda Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi have announced Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's schooner Lois McClure will be in port in Gateway Harbor Park on the City of Tonawanda side on Wednesday, Aug. 7, between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. during her tour commemorating the War of 1812 bicentennial. Local officials will gather at 11:30 a.m. to welcome the vessel back to the Twin Cities.
This year's thematic and interpretive message is "1813: The Shipwrights' War, and Other Stories."
"The shipbuilding races and naval battles of 1813 helped to determine the outcome of the War of 1812, and left a legacy of shipwrecks beneath the waters of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain," said Art Cohn, special project director. "Our dynamic outreach program explores history where it happened, on the anniversary of the cross-border war that ushered in 200 years of peace."
Visitors can board the schooner free of charge to explore the 88-foot long boat "from stem to stern." Many ports on the tour played significant roles during the War of 1812. In recent years, a tangible legacy of shipwrecks from the War of 1812 has been discovered at the bottom of the lakes and waterways where naval history was made. These shipwrecks and related sites on land form a powerful connection to the little-known war, which closed the final chapter in North American boundary disputes and ushered in two centuries of peaceful alliance between the U.S., Britain and Canada.
The 2013 journey begins in June on the Champlain Canal, and continues west across the Erie Canal to Buffalo, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's victory at the Battle of Lake Erie - an event of special interest to Senior Capt. Roger Taylor, a descendant of the commodore. The schooner then enters Lake Ontario via the Oswego Canal, and travels down the St. Lawrence and Richelieu, returning to Lake Champlain in October.
Lois McClure was built by LCMM shipwrights and volunteers on the Burlington waterfront, based on two shipwrecks of 1862-class canal schooners discovered in Lake Champlain. Since 2004, Lois McClure has cruised Lake Champlain, the Hudson and St. Lawrence rivers, and the Erie Canal system, and has visited more than 115 communities and welcomed aboard more than 150,000 visitors. Many of the historic canals on which the schooner travels were constructed not long after the War of 1812, and were viewed in part as "homeland security" if it became necessary to transport troops or military supplies. Happily, however, the canals, and the canal boats on them, have served the network of shared trade, commerce and recreation enjoyed by Canadians and Americans.
LCMM's authentic replica 1862 canal schooner Lois McClure has no means of propulsion other than sail, so 1964 tugboat C. L. Churchill serves as power. As with all wooden vessels, constant care and maintenance is needed to ensure safe and effective operation.
Free admission is offered throughout the tour thanks to the support of sponsors including the New York State Canal Corporation, state of Vermont, National Park Service, Lake Champlain Basin Program, the farm families of Cabot Creamery, and Lake Champlain Transportation. Local hosts and supporters include Niagara Falls National Heritage Area.
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is located on the shore of Lake Champlain, seven scenic miles from historic Vergennes, Vt., at 4472 Basin Harbor Road, across from the Basin Harbor Club. LCMM strives to bring underwater discoveries and lake adventures to the public in exciting and imaginative ways. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 13. LCMM members and children ages 5 and under receive free admission. For more information, call 802-475-2022 or visit www.lcmm.org.