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Bands of Music at Fort George During the War of 1812

The 41st Band of Music at Fort George
© Parks Canada

Because of their stature in society and their personal wealth, officers had other forms of musical entertainment besides the drummers. Most had formal training in music and were capable of performing on instruments such as the violin and singing. Even pianos were transported to Upper Canada. It was exciting to receive the latest music from Europe and have the chance to perform and entertain the local gentry in the form of concerts, plays and dances. German music was popular as well as the nationalistic music of Britain and the latest dance music from Scotland. Professional civilian bandsmen were sometimes hired and equipped by the officers although they were seldom found on the battlefield. The bands could have been made up of officers, soldiers or civilian musicians. The General Regulations and Orders for the Army in 1811 state that In Regiments that have Bands of Music, one Private soldier of each Troop or Company is permitted to act as a Musician, and a Sergeant is allowed to act as Master of the Band; but all these Men are to be effective to the Service as Soldiers, are to be perfectly drilled, and liable to serve in the Ranks on any emergency. The 41st had a band of music and the 49th Regiment claimed instruments lost sustained by the Field officers and Captains by the burning of Fort George on the 28th May or by the Captain of that Post on the 27th May 1813, of all the Musical Instruments and Books belonging to the Band.

14 Clarinetts
2 Bassoons
10 Flutes
2 French Horns
1 Trumpet
1 Serpent
1 Kettle Drum
1 Pair Triangles
a Chest of music books

I certify upon honour, that the above, to the best of my knowledge and belief, is a true and correct statement (signed) C. Pleanderleath, Major 49th Regt. Commg. (Public Archives of Canada RGB, C 1227, p.13)

A Band of Music is being developed at Fort George today. Some of the instruments have already been collected. There are flutes, a clarinet, bassoon, violin, serpent and pianoforte that are contemporary to Fort George and the War of 1812. The Music of the Upper Class' is performed in the Officer's Quarters and a program called Music of the Redcoat' takes place in the barracks.