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Banners hanging in Ridgeway a concern for local historians

By Kris Dubé, Fort Erie Times/Niagara Advance

Bob Fretz, left, and Rick Doan take aim at a Fenian solider poster portrayed in downtown Ridgeway. A group of about a dozen protestors walked the street with "Fenian Flusher" water guns to show their discontent for what they believe to be a "terrible depiction" of history. (Submitted photo)

Bob Fretz, left, and Rick Doan take aim at a Fenian solider poster portrayed in downtown Ridgeway. A group of about a dozen protestors walked the street with "Fenian Flusher" water guns to show their discontent for what they believe to be a "terrible depiction" of history. (Submitted photo)

A group of local historians are offended by a series of banners that are hanging on Ridge Road.

Rick Doan, Earl Plato and Bob Fretz are not impressed with about 11 flags that were erected by the Ridgeway Business Improvement Association (BIA) and have officially declared the second battle of Ridgeway, saying the illustration on them is not an accurate depiction of the Battle of Ridgeway, but instead is a scene from the Fenian Raids.

Both descendants of the United Empire Loyalists, Doan and Plato say having a Fenian soldier standing proudly over dead Canadian soldiers is not something the community should be celebrating.

"Our relatives fought for what we have today," said Doan, when he and Plato met with the Fort Erie Times last week.

The local historian noticed the flags during the recent Ridgeway Summer Festival and immediately, he was taken back.

"I saw them and said, this looks terrible."

"To have a Fenian soldier standing over dead Canadians, it looks pretty bad," he added.

After a series of emails and communications with BIA representatives, Doan says he hasn't had much luck with having their issues with the flags corrected. Therefore, the group will be taking their concerns to council.

"That will be the last thing we can do," he said.

On July 14, about 12 people who don't agree with the flags on Ridge Road, hit the streets with squirt guns to show their displeasure.

Derrick Dea, chair of the Ridgeway BIA, said he has received emails and phone calls that are supportive of the flags that line the downtown core of Ridgeway.

"It's a non-issue," he said.

“We won the war, but we lost the Battle of Ridgeway,” he said. “That was the only battle we lost, and that is why we picked the image. It is the one most relevant.”

The image comes from the book Ridgeway: The American Fenian Invasion and the 1866 Battle That Made Canada, and Dea said the author, Peter Vronsky, was one of the many historians contacted for input.

“There was a lot of deliberation with the BIA on what images to use. It wasn’t like we just jumped at it and did it,” said Dea.

Doan and a group of about a dozen protestors could be seen two weekends ago, marching down Ridge Rd. with guns in hand.

Not lethal weaponry, though, like the first Battle of Ridgeway featured.

But water guns, with the words “Fenian Flushers” portrayed as their accompanying name.

“We went up and down shooting all the Fenian flags with water,” said Doan. “We made sure people saw our protest of the signs because they won’t take them down.”

Dea said he’s not afraid of the retaliation.

“The banners are staying, there’s no question about that. We aren’t changing history for anybody.”

Other banners included in the series show the Point Abino Lighthouse, the train station and the Ridgeway Bertie Township Hall.


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