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by Susan Mikula Campbell
The War of 1812 had a significant impact on Western New York and Canada, bringing fire and destruction, fighting and death, and a lasting place in history to both sides of the Niagara River.
Town of Niagara resident and avid historian Paul Gromosiak decided he wanted to show people some of the many places in this area related to that war.
"Every year, I get a calendar with pictures of the falls," said Gromosiak, who has written many books and articles about his favorite attraction. "With the anniversary of the war coming up, I thought wouldn't it be nice to have a calendar showing the war took place here and people were impacted here."
Gromosiak contacted photographer Dave Young, a DeVeaux resident, who creates an annual calendar showing the Niagara River gorge.
"I was kind of leery to jump into another project. I knew travel would be involved," Young said. "I was not sure if it would work, but Paul, being the teacher that he is, gave me an outline of the 1,000 Day War ... and what a story ... in our own backyard!"
Young and his wife, Mary Pat, had a fun summer on bicycle, car and foot, going to various War of 1812 sites and taking photos.
"Visiting some of these battle sites was an eye-opener for me," he said. At the site of the Battle of Chippawa in Niagara Falls, Ontario, "I just felt something in the air ... wow, something occurred here that made a difference in our lives today."
Each page of the 12-month calendar features either a single photo or a collage of photos with copy describing the significance of what is shown to the War of 1812.
Gromosiak said they tried to be as fair as possible to both sides of the river. For instance, the month of April features both Fanny Doyle, heroine of Fort Niagara, and Laura Secord, the female Canadian Paul Revere who walked 20 miles to warn her countrymen that the Americans were coming.
Everyone can see Brock's Monument at Queenston Heights from this side of the river near Lewiston, but few here know that British Maj. Gen. Sir Isaac Brock is to Canada what George Washington is to the U.S., Gromosiak said.
The month of March features The Niagara, moored at Erie, Pa. It was the flagship for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry ("Don't give up the ship") during the Battle of Lake Erie.
"Dave's photographs are just fantastic," Gromosiak said of the calendar. "He has gone out of his way to get the pictures right. They are a work of art."
The calendar, which sells for $15.99 is currently available at The Book Corner on Main Street in Niagara Falls. Plans also are being made to offer it at other local sites, and arrangements can be made for sales by calling Young at 531-3897.
Young said he and Gromosiak are hoping to produce a calendar for all three years of the War of 1812.
"Hopefully, for the 2014 calendar, we'll be taking a trip to New Orleans; that's where the final battle was," Young said.
Young's gorge calendar for 2012 also will be available this year, probably around Thanksgiving.
The 2012 calendar commemorating the War of 1812 was a labor of love for Gromosiak.
"I just love this place. I think we have so many unique stories to tell the world," he said of the Niagara Region. "I want people to share my love."