Wanted: Military re-enactors

Charlie Wiebenga, Mark Dickerson and Dave Welton, a trio of Chatham-Kent military re-enactors, are seen here at Waterloo, Belgium in 2015. Dickerson hopes to re-start a local re-enactment group.

It has been years since local military re-enactors formed ranks in Chatham-Kent, but Mark Dickerson wants to change all that.

Dickerson, who was a member of the Kent Military Re-enactment Society, hopes to establish a local branch of the Upper Thames Re-enactment Society, which operates out of London. He’s been a member there since the Kent organization faded away in the wake of the 200th anniversary celebrations of the War of 1812 as it rolled through our region.

“Back in 2013, most members were pretty close to retirement. They came together for one final hurrah and then they hung up their muskets,” he said.

Sadly, several have since passed away, Dickerson said.

But he hopes there is renewed interest in historical re-enacting, and believes he has a solid, if small, core in the making. 

“In Chatham alone, we probably already have six members that belong to the London group. Any new people that we can get out, especially young blood, would be great,” he said. “If we could get three or four more people into the hobby, I’d consider that a good success.”

Dickerson said the re-enactors are usually in it for a love of history, but also the fellowship aspect.

“We do it for the camaraderie. Everyone who is in it, we’re all really good friends outside the hobby. We all like camping. Usually there’s a group of us who go to Algonquin every year,” he said.

In terms of re-enacting historical battles, Dickerson said living history trumps learning it out of a book any day of the week.

“You don’t get the flavour of history from a book,” he said.

Dickerson is hosting a meeting July 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Tecumseh Park to gauge interest.

“It will be an information session and maybe we do a little bit of drilling,” he said.

For those interested in attending, Dickerson suggests parking on King Street and taking the walking bridge across McGregor Creek into the park due to the construction on William Street.

“I’d like to see it as a subsidiary chapter, a Chatham wing of the London group,” he said of a potential local cluster. “If we just fold into the London group, we’d be like a Chatham-Kent division.”

For anyone wanting more information, they can contact Dickerson at 519-401-2231 or mdickerson1@me.com.


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