THE RIDGEWAY DINNER

The Ridgeway Dinner was held for the first time this year to commemorate the Battle of Ridgeway and to restore to memory the names of the first nine - the "Ridgeway Nine" - of the more than 115,000 soldiers killed in action while serving in Canada's military at home and overseas. Fought on June 2, 1866 near Fort Erie against Irish American Fenians by the Queen's Own Rifles (QOR) of Toronto and the 13th Battalion - Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI), the Battle of Ridgeway is Canada's first modern battle, the first fought entirely by Canadians and led exclusively by Canadian officers. A further 21 Canadian militia servicemen subsequently died as the result of wounds sustained in the fighting or while in service during the Fenian Raids. In the past they were commemorated by Canadians in June memorial services, but since the Remembrance Day Act of 1931, they have been excluded from Canada’s national military memorial heritage.

The Fenian insurgent invaders came not to conquer Canada but to hold it in the cause of national independence for Ireland. Twelve were killed in the battle. Today, as we approach the 150th anniversary in 2016 of the Battle of Ridgeway, the names of the Canadians and the Fenians who fell at Ridgeway and Fort Erie, are lost and forgotten to both Canada and Ireland. Ireland Park Foundation will seek to restore to memory the names of these young men, in both Canada and Ireland and are inviting senior representatives of the government of Canada and Ireland to attend this dinner. A portion of the proceeds of the dinner this year and in subsequent years leading up to the 150th anniversary in 2016 will be used to commission a new Battle of Ridgeway memorial.

This Battle and the Fenian Raids into Canada in 1866, had a significant influence on the events that lead to Canadian Confederation just over one year later, on July 1st 1867. In the intervening years, Canada fought in the Boer War, two World Wars, Korea, Afghanistan and served in many Peace Keeping Missions around the world.

Irish men and women have also served in the cause of freedom, in both World Wars, fighting under the colors of Canada, Australia, the United States and Britain. Since 1921, when Ireland finally won its independence from Britain, Ireland has also contributed to International Peace Keeping Missions around the world, very often alongside Canada’s armed forces in places such as Cyprus, Sinai and Lebanon. Today Ireland and Canada share one of the oldest and closest friendships amongst the nations bordering on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Our shared past is a cherished memory for all of us to celebrate. It is timely that the story of Ridgeway and Fort Erie be celebrated and commemorated in honor of those who gave their tomorrows for our today.

LOCATION
The Great Hall, Hart House,
7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto
Toronto, ON M5S 3H3

DATE
TUESDAY, MAY 28TH, 2013

Thanks to all those who supported this event!


PARK CLOSURE

Ireland Park is temporarily closed.

The City of Toronto is building a $5-million extension to the quay wall along the eastern edge of the park, so the area is off-limits for safety reasons.

When finished, the new seven-metre-wide structure will provide a tree-lined lakeside promenade adjacent to the park.


Ireland Park honours the Irish immigrants who fled during the Great Famine of 1847 and the 38,000 who arrived in Toronto that summer when the city’s population was a mere 20,000. Ireland Park is a bridge that will link two nations and two cities. It is the story of a destitute people overcoming unimaginable hardship and suffering, and speaks to the kindness and generosity of Canadians—traits which are as consistent now as in 1847.

It is a reminder of the trauma of famine, which still exists in many parts of the world today. The failure of a harvest is an act of nature. Starvation is the result of our failure to respond with generosity to those who are hungry.

Ireland Park Foundation is a charitable, non-profit organization whose purpose is to create venues and materials that symbolize the arrival and settlement of the Irish in Canada. Objectives include:

• Commemorate the 1,100 people who lost their lives during this tragic period in Toronto’s history, including both the Irish immigrants and those who died trying to help them.

• Celebrate the influence of the Irish who went on to make meaningful contributions to Toronto and Canada.

• Create awareness of the economic and cultural contribution of the Irish to Toronto and Canada before, during and after the famine period.

• Reinforce the Canadian tradition of welcoming waves of immigrants from around the world.

• Provide a strong foundation for the ongoing celebration of the Irish heritage and its contribution to Toronto and Canada.



 

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