Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Honouring the valour

Photo by Kurt Johnson

I hope others will come to see Maria Hill as a symbol of the pioneer spirit in the face of adversity. She is certainly a Canadian worthy of greater recognition.

Her husband, Sgt. Andrew Hill, whom she accompanied as a nurse, belonged to the 100th Prince Regent’s Regiment of Foot which fought for king and for Canada during the War of 1812. Sgt. Hill led troops into battle on the Niagara frontier where the 100th Regiment was awarded battle honours for bravery. Maria Hill (1791-1881) tended the wounded and dying soldiers on many battlefields such as the carnage at the battle of Chippawa where the 100th suffered terrible casualties.

After the war, the Hills opened a tavern in the new town on the Jock River, hosting the Duke of Richmond on his 1819 tour. When the duke died, she was called upon to use her nursing skills to dress the duke’s body for his funeral.

With next year’s bicentennial commemorations, we will hear a lot about the many regiments of British soldiers who defended the colonies against the American invaders along with the militia from Upper and Lower Canada and First Nations warriors. And we should remember their valour particularly on Remembrance Day for, as historian Donald E. Graves wrote in the Ottawa Citizen “Without their courage and sacrifice, there would be no modern Canada because it would be part of the United States.”

Someday, we should erect a plaque to honour Maria and Andrew Hill who are buried at Beechwood Cemetery in a family plot (above) with many descendants. Her name appears on the grave marker as Maria Taylor for her second husband, Andrew Taylor of Richmond.
Kurt Johnson, Munster

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