June 15 kicked off the city of Toronto’s War of 1812 celebrations, with an abundance of free and lively events around town in conjunction with the Luminato Festival. The Canadian Encyclopedia attended a handful of events, one of which was a unique art installation called The Encampment at Fort York.
The Encampment features 200 canvas tents packed tightly together, transforming Fort York into the kind of military camp and temporary village that would have existed during the War of 1812. The tents serves as a visual reminder of what the fort would have looked like and also imagines the lives of the people caught up in the war.
The artists behind the installation, Thom Sokoloski and Jenny-Anne McCowan, gathered dozens of stories from both Americans and Canadians who lived during the war and asked 100 artists to create exhibits inspired by their lives. These exhibits are displayed inside the tents, and they range from eerie (a completely empty tent) to oddly stirring (charred crosses piled below a tattered British flag).
One tent is devoted to the story of Tecumseh‘s second in command, Stiata, a warrior and mentor, who captured American General James Winchester and was part of all the major battles of the War of 1812. Inside the tent a beaded owl represents his wisdom and years and a skull on a spike his bravery and ferocity as a warrior.
The Encampment will be on display at Fort York until June 24.