The Stars and Stripes flew over Riverside Park for a fleeting moment Thursday morning. Then a quartet played the Star Spangled Banner as the flag was brought down the mast and neatly folded.
Minutes later, the Union Jack was hoisted up to the sounds of God Save the King. Muskets boomed to mark the changeover.
It was like 1813 all over again.
A marker was unveiled in Riverside Park Thursday morning to commemorate the events of that year and how it affected the fate of the city.
At the time, an American trading fort in Kamloops was handed over to the British in that year, a fallout from the war of 1812.
Historian Ken Favrholdt, who curates the Osoyoos Museum and Archives, told those gathered in the park about the war that was thought to be a mostly Eastern Canadian issue and how it actually could have changed things here.
American entrepreneur John Jacob Astor was establishing trading posts in parts of Canada and put one in Kamloops to do business with the Secwepmc people. The Northwest Company, based in Montreal, did the same.
When the war broke out in Eastern Canada, it took a long time for word to get out to the west.
Favrholdt said the two forts were competitors, but they didn’t want to fight. Astor agreed to hand over the fort to avoid conflict. Even after the war ended and there was a pact to return holdings to their original owners, the Americans declined to take back their fort in Kamloops, he said.
“After 1813, the Americans left this whole territory.”
The historian also wrote the abbreviated version of the historic event on the new marker in the park.
“We have an interesting history that included Americans,” he said.
If Astor hadn’t given up the fort, it’s possible the Canada-U.S. border might be further north, around Prince George, he said.
Deputy Mayor Ken Christian admitted he was surprised to learn the war of 1812 had such an impact here.
“I always thought the war of 1812 was an Eastern thing,” he said.
“It’s important we look back and turn the pages back on our history.”