200 Years Ago
Isaac Brock - 200 years ago
Isaac Brock was born on the Channel Island of Guernsey in 1769, a particularly good year for generals considering the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte were born the same year. Of Norman/French roots, he spoke French and English fluently and at an early age was recognized as an excellent athlete. At the age of 15, Isaac followed his older brothers into the British Army. As commander of the 49th Regiment of Foot, he arrived in
|On July 9, 1810 Isaac wrote to his brother, Irving, thanking him for sending out various articles that were needed. Everything had arrived but the new cocked hat he had ordered, and the lack of this caused him some inconvenience because, he complained, "from the enormity of my head, I find the utmost difficulty in getting a substitute in this country." That hat arrived after Brock’s death and may now be seen in the Niagara Historical Museum.||Photo by Tony Chisholm with thanks to Scott Finlay and Parks Canada|
At this time, Brock was the commander of the Quebec City garrison. Governor Sir James Craig told Brock of his intention to send him to command the troops in Upper Canada and wanted him to move there without delay. On July 10, Brock wrote to his sister in law, Mrs. William Brock that did not know if this move would be a temporary or permanent move and he was not pleased, for he would have to leave his garden "with abundance of melons and other good things." He enjoyed greatly Quebec City’s lively social life e.g. he wrote "two frigates at anchor, and the arrival of [Lieutenant] Governor Gore from the Upper Province, have given a zest to society. Races, country and water parties, have occupied our time in a continued round of festivity." Brock had contributed in the form of "a grand dinner given to Mrs. Gore, at which Sir James Craig was present, and a ball to a vast assemblage of all descriptions." A friend, Lieutenant Colonel James Green, wrote on July 5, 1810 to William Claus about the dinner and ball "to as many Ladies as his [Brock’s] rooms could conveniently contain". They danced in two rooms to the band of the 89^th Regiment "which unquestionably is the best Military Band I ever saw."
|By mid-September his headquarters was Fort George, and he moved into Government House in Niagara.By late autumn and winter, Brock found he spent much of his time alone in the evenings He wrote to his brother Irving,in January 1811, "I read much, but good books are scarce, and I hate borrowing. I like to read a book quickly, and afterwards revert to such passages as have made the deepest impression and which appear to me the most important to remember—" He asked his brother to send books of history, preferably with maps and translations of ancient authors He was not, however, a reclusive man for he had a reputation for generous hospitality. He enjoyed the company of Colonel and Mrs. Murray among others, and during the winter he held a ball. Another friend, Colonel James Kempt wrote January 17, 1811 that he had just received a letter from Mrs. Murray, "giving me an account of a splendid ball given by you to the /beau monde/ of Niagara and its vicinity, and the manner in which she speaks of your liberality and hospitality reminds me of the many pleasant hours I have passed under your roof."|
|Photo by Tony Chisholm with thanks to Scott Finlay and Parks Canada|