In continuing with this Spring's touring ways, 11 intrepid Loyalists hit the road last Friday to travel to Kingston for the Canada vs USA test match. In doing so they would be embarking on a trip that would retrace the (literal) steps of the 104th New Brunswick Regiment of Foot who marched from Fredericton to Kingston in the winter of 1813 to re-inforce Upper Canada from a potential American Invasion during the War of 1812. This time we would travel by rental vehicle, although young James claimed that, with the lack of space in the back of our Ford Flex, he knew exactly the kind of discomfort those soldiers must have faced.
In all seriousness, the Long March of the 104th is an important part of Canada's history and a unifying moment for what was to become our confederation. Despite the purpose of the trip being purely fun, we did take the time to learn a bit more of the history before and during the trip. And the metaphors matched as this time we would be supporting our side in the face of another invading American force eager to beat us on our soil.
We arrived in Kingston late Friday night and settled in for the big day Saturday. There was a curtain-raiser to the test match in the morning between the Canadian Classics and the US Eagles Classics. Yours truly took part in that one with a number of former Canada players (and old friends). The Canadian Classics set the stage for the Canada test squad besting our American counterpats 31-14 in an entertaining (for me anyways) affair. I trurly appreciated the loud cheers of "Put 18 in" as I tried to catch my breath between shifts (rolling subs - best. idea. ever.).
The stadium filled up for the for the test match and some the weather held off for perfect rugby conditions. Jebb started on the bench but in a nice coincidence wore the same #18 I wore for the Classics game. The first half was back and forth but Canada looked the more dangerous squad. They were up 20-18 at the half. Shortly after halftime Jebb made his appearance (I assume because of those same "Put 18 in" pleas as earlier). Shortly thereafter Canada scored to make it 28-18 and nearly seal the victory. The Eagles were game though and promptly burnt down Toronto. Sorry, I kid, but they did score to make it 28-25. Time ran out on them, however, and that was the final. Good win to start the test series for our boys.
From there we retired to the hotel and the spoils of victory. We did meet up with the boys later on at Kingston's finest military themed pub (actually the only one we saw). Many stories were told (exagerrated) of previous victories and nary a word was mentioned of any defeats. A great time was had with friends old and new.
We were up surprisingly bright and early in the am ready to hit the road. Before we did so, though, we took the time to take a group shot of the final destination of the 104th. Here we are in front of Fort Henry looking worse for wear but not having lost anyone.
It was a very successful trip. We learned a little bit about our country, a little bit about each other (Malcolm enjoys beer - who knew!?), a little bit about what it takes to play for Canada, and a little bit of what it means to be a Loyalist, in today's context.
Thanks for the memories boys!