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Historic number of tall ships to converge on Brockville

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BROCKVILLE, Ontario — It’s no tall tale when the director of economic development here says the tall ships event his city will host is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“It’s not likely we are going to have this many ships here in port in one place ever again,” said David Paul.

That may go for any port along the St. Lawrence River.

Ten tall ships will converge on Brockville, nearly opposite Morristown across the St. Lawrence Seaway, for the June 14 to16 Tall Ships 1812 Tour.

“As part of that whole event, there will be 15 Canadian and U.S. ports where the tall ships will be visiting as part of this commemoration programming,” said Mr. Paul.

Brockville is the tour’s first port of call. Mr. Paul said that, except for Toronto, Brockville will host the most ships of any of the other Canadian cities on the tour, which concludes Sept. 2 on Lake Erie in the Windsor, Ontario, area.

“We tried to be aggressive to make our overtures known at tall ship conferences which we attended the past two years,” said Mr. Paul. “We also said, ‘When you come here, we’re going to make this meaningful for your captain and crew so you will come back again on your own.’”

The tour is produced in partnership with the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2013 series. That tour will visit 22 ports along the Great Lakes and include five races. The Tall Ships Challenge is a program produced by Tall Ships America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching youth through character building and leadership programs aboard the tall ships.

One of the tall ships in the festival, Empire Sandy, will stop in Clayton June 12 to kick off the Sailing Seaway Clayton festival, June 12 to 16, before arriving in Brockville June 14. Empire Sandy will join tall ship Lynx at the Clayton festival. The Lynx will remain throughout the Clayton festival.

Mr. Paul said that in addition to ship tours and public cruises, a variety of events is planned ashore, ranging from concerts, vendors, artisans, a “pirates’ village” and a “beverage garden.”

He said a key viewing time for spectators will be at approximately 4 p.m. June 14. “All the ships will be under sail,” Mr. Paul said. “They are going to make a big pass of city hall along the waterfront before they go back to their berthing areas.”

There are no shortage of those areas in Brockville, Mr. Paul said.

“We’re kind of blessed that way,” Mr. Paul said. “We’ve got good depth and good docking space because we were a commerce area for steamships.”

A “spectacular” fireworks show is planned for June 15, Mr. Paul said. A sound system will crank out Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”

“We’re having the ships, their cannons and land-based cannons and the infantry (re-enactors) to all combine their fire at the crescendo of the overture,” Mr. Paul said.

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Mr. Paul said there are a couple of options available for people who want to tour the tall ships. A $12 “passport” will allow patrons to tour all the ships.

“They are pretty high quality souvenir pieces in heavy parchment paper,” Mr. Paul said of the passports. He added that each ship will have its own customized stamp.

Two ships, Empire Sandy and Liana’s Ransom, will offer sailing excursions for $30. Dinner cruises have been sold out.

the details
WHAT: Tall Ships 1812 Tour in Brockville, Ontario.
WHEN/WHERE: June 14 to 16. In addition to ships, there will be a variety of musical entertainment and vendors along the waterfront. At approximately 4 p.m. June 14, there will be a “sail-by” in front of city hall featuring all the ships.
Ninety-minute cruises will be held between noon and 5 p.m. June 15 and 16 Cost is $30, taxes included. A $12 “passport” will allow patrons to tour all the ships.
Tickets can be purchased from the Brockville Tourism office in downtown Brockville, 10 Market St., W., or by calling the office at 888-251-7676
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