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Basil Port of Call:Buffalo

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The Denis Sullivan where we got a cool Great Lakes Log Book showing lots of amazing history. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis

BUFFALO — For a long time these vessels of the sea have been used to transport merchandise, conquer the wars, and provide safe travels abroad.

The Tall Ships of America Challenge came to the shores of Buffalo Waterfront on July Fourth Weekend. The Holiday weekend was packed with thousands of people wanting to get a glimpse of history and know what it was like to be on one of these magnificent ships.

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Historical photos inside the Denis Sullivan showed a real sense of what it was like below deck. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

My mother, Lisa Willis, and myself were lucky enough to become part of history. For the first time Buffalo held Basil Port of Call at its Canalside. There were 12 Tall Ships of America available (technically one was from Spain) and thousands of happy tourists.

An official passport was handed out to each ticket holder with a little information about each ship at port. My mother and I were there for opening day on July 5, and it was an intense adventure to say the least.

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The Pride of Baltimore II is an exact replica of the first Pride of Baltimore from War of 1812. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

We only saw half of the ships that day as it was beastly hot, but it is something we will never forget. The true meaning of all our family adventures is to take a lot of photos, explore a lot of hidden gems, and get to the point of total exhaustion. It is safe to say this adventure was a complete success.

The Tall Ships of America we saw are; Denis Sullivan, HMCS Oriole, NAO Santa Maria, Niagara, Pride of Baltimore II, and St. Lawrence II. The others at port were; Bluenose II, Empire Sandy, Picton Castle, Appledore IV, Appledore V, and Spirit of Buffalo.

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Many of the ships in port had cool old wooden steering like this. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

The Denis Sullivan is based out of Milwaukee, WI. It is one of the newer vessels on the list. It is a traditional Great Lakes topsail schooner, which was most common at one time. It is used for the general public and educational purposes as well as private charters. It offers programs on history, sailing, ecology, marine science, and professional development for educators.

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It was fascinating to be on the oldest Royal Canadian Navy ship. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

HMCS Oriole is the oldest commissioned ship in the Royal Canadian Navy, and the longest serving commissioned ship. It is based out of CFB, Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was built in 1921, but now serves as a training vessel for the Royal Canadian Navy.

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NAO Santa Maria had the longest wait line of the day. It was so beautiful. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

NAO Santa Maria is an exact replica of the flagship Christopher Columbus sailed in 1492. It is based out of Seville, Spain. This gorgeous masterpiece was built in only 14 months and takes you right back in time over 500 years ago. This deep-water tall ship was built on the 525thAnniversary of the original Santa Maria 1492 Voyage. She launched on March, 15, 2018 as part of the historic replica fleet of NAO Victoria Foundation in Seville.

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The Niagara had the most flags on the ship. It also had a lot of neat historic cannons and other war memorabilia to symbolize War of 1812. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

US Brig Niagara is based out of Erie, Pa. It is a reconstruction of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s historic wooden flagship that fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. This glorious reminder of our victory on the lake offers education and learning on the waters for the 22 trainees and 18 crew on board.

Pride of Baltimore II is a topsail schooner that serves as a sailing ambassador for the State of Maryland. It is based out of Baltimore, MD and supported by a non-for-profit organization. The Maryland Transportation Authority owns and supports the historic value of this vessel. This part of our seafaring history is a replica of the one that served in War of 1812. It launched in 1988 to replace the first Pride of Baltimore.

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Cannons were on both War of 1812 replicas to showcase what it would be like in those days. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

St. Lawrence II is a steel two-masted brigantine operated by teenagers for youth sailing programs. It is based out of Kingston, Ontario. She was one of three brigantines from the Canadian ports brought to Buffalo by the Buffalo Lighthouse Association in the 1980s.

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I imagine this is what it looked like on the original Santa Maria in 1492. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Perhaps, my favorite ship I was able to see that day was the NAO Santa Maria. I am completely fascinated by history, as anyone who knows me will find out. I feel like this one embraces the true meaning of Tall Ship. It is wooden, huge, and looks ancient. It makes me feel like I am entering a period film where a bunch of pirates are going to make someone walk a plank or keep them up in the crow’s nest. I was determined to see this ship even if it was the only one, I saw that day.

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Another glimpse into over 500 years of history on Santa Maria replica. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

It was my general feel of the public that they all felt the same way. I mean the other ships are beautiful, and I love them as well. However, the replica of Santa Maria is something that reminds us that there is still a little magic left in the world. I could feel the soul of the Christopher Columbus 1492 Voyage on that vessel as I wandered throughout its corridors.

Besides seeing the beautiful Tall Ships, which was the main focus of our adventure that day. We also were able to ride a double decker bus. I had 15 wonderful minutes to feel British. I even had The Beatles blasting through the radio as we drove through the harbor, and I sitting on the top could see the soul of the dark waters of Lake Erie.

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The Buffalo Double Decker gave me my dream of riding a real London bus for a few minutes. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Yes, despite major sunburn, possible dehydration, and extreme sun poisoning we both had a wonderful time at Basil Port of Call: Buffalo. It was the first time anything like this had been done in the shores near our humble homes. It is something we had dreamed of and thought never be possible in a million years. Just hope that next time they come to port we can see the other ships we missed that day on the rocky shores of Lake Erie.

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My mom Lisa Willis. It has been a huge dream of hers to see and aboard Tall Ships. I am glad the Basil Port of Call:Buffalo fulfilled that goal for her and myself. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

 

Mural enriches Glory Days

Inspirations Trail kick-off in Mount Morris with historic wall mural ceremony

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Rochester artist, Shawn Dunwoody and his little helpers, Gavin and Raylee Olsowsky. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis

MOUNT MORRIS — A historic work of art has captured the hearts of an entire community as it encompasses the story of leadership, courage, freedom, family and hope.

The Mount Morris Wall Mural dedication ceremony took place on Glory Days, which honors the life of Francis Bellamy. Bellamy’s words became our nation’s pledge in 1892. The version we know, and honor today was revised in 1942 to include, One Nation Under God.

On June 8 Mount Morris Partners for Progress and the Village of Mount Morris teamed up to celebrate the near completion of the historic artwork.

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William D’Angelo talks about the importance of this mural to the entire community. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

William D’Angelo, Mount Morris Partners for Progress president welcomed everyone to the Eighth Annual Glory Days in honor of Francis Bellamy. D’Angelo thanked everyone who had anything to do with the project from the beginning; especially Shawn Dunwoody, the artist from Rochester who has worked on it for weeks.

“It is our ideas that are up on this wall. We never knew what it was going to be. We thought it might be patriotic. This is art. This is history. This is Mount Morris,” he said. “We can always hold our heads up high to say Mount Morris was the first to get something done in Livingston County.”

Mount Morris Mayor Frank Provo said this was a great project for the whole community to get involved in.

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When the mural is complete the entire wall will pay tribute to the men and women who led the way in Mount Morris. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

“There was a lot of public input. Shawn (Dunwoody) took those ideas and gave us something great. I like what we have. I like where it is going to go. I hope it will be a start for more art to come into the village of Mount Morris,” he said.

Mount Morris Supervisor Chuck DiPasquale has always been proud of his hometown.

“This makes me even more proud of Mount Morris. I love that people stop and ask me where to find the mural. I love that we have something like this being put up in our town,” he said.

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Gavin and Raylee Olsowsky helped paint the stars on the wall with Dunwoody. They were both proud to be part of the project. Their father is from Mount Morris. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

The Livingston County Inspirations Trail will hit all nine towns in the county, but this is the first to incorporate the concept.  The hope is that other towns take the initiative for something similar on their walls.

D’Angelo said the trail is something bigger than Mount Morris. It is something that encompasses the entire county.

“It (Inspirational Trail) is supposed to bring people from the communities and from the outside to stop and take a look at each of the villages. Livingston County is one of the most beautiful regions in all of New York State, if not all of United States. It all begins at the county level,” he said.

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Ross Barnes is a baseball legend of Mount Morris. Many are still passionate about getting him on the hall of fame. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Louise Wadsworth, Livingston County Downtown coordinator talked about the importance of the Inspirations Trail.

“I want to thank Greg O’Connell for saving this wall for us. It was about a year-and-a-half ago I had my first meeting with a group of people from around the county. I really wanted to do an Inspirational Trail, which would bring people from every community through the whole county.  Kathy Link and Linda Gray put their heads together and decided that Mount Morris was going to be the first one,” she said. “I am so proud they picked Shawn Dunwoody to be the artist for this. He is the perfect person to do the first mural. He brought the whole community together. He really put everyone’s ideas on here, and it reflects the entire community. This is the standard for the rest of our towns to come up too.”

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Mary Seymour Howell was instrumental in helping Susan B. Anthony with the Women’s Rights Movement. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Shawn Dunwoody, Rochester artist, said he has been truly honored to work on this project.

“This has been a fantastic journey. I want to say thank you to all of you. This is not about what I am painting. This is about who you are in Mount Morris. I wanted to be that tool to put your voices out here. When I heard this was going to be the first piece on the Inspirations Trail, I knew it had to be something,” he said. “I went in with the intention that this is the first of many other things that will happen throughout the county. It needs to hit hard. It needs to be strong.”

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Gen. William A. Mills founded Mount Morris. His mansion is now a museum for the historical society. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Dunwoody said there were several meetings that took place to get this going. He met at the school several times to talk with the students too.

“I got great information about the history of the town. I got great information about how it all developed into what it is today. I walked away from these meetings with so many ideas and so much spirit. I realized the strength of Mount Morris is developing new families. It has always been open about family and creating change,” he said. “I went with Francis Bellamy’s original pledge, because his vision was that he wanted any country to be able to salute and pledge their country. It is all about extending the world family, which is in the heart of Mount Morris.”

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New Family was the inspiration for the entire mural. The above photo is that of WWII Veteran Charles Peritore. He recently passed away, so this is how his family wanted to honor him. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Dunwoody wants the community to gather once the project is complete and sign the bottom of the mural. It all belongs to them.

One thing that really made the day touching was the entire Charles Peritore Family showed for the ceremony. Charles Peritore, a WWII Veteran, passed away recently in Mount Morris. His family had him honored by placing his image on top of the mural for everyone to see.

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The entire Charles Peritore Family came to honor him at the wall mural ceremony. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

“I get goosebumps every time I look at it,” Charles Peritore Jr. said. “I love coming over to see it, so I can look at him. We found a color photo of dad to give to him, so he could copy the image for the mural. We are very proud of dad, and he was a very humble man. He was very well known in Mount Morris. We brought everyone down to the ceremony to see the mural. We are all very honored to have dad up on the wall.”

The mural should be done within a couple weeks. Future plans include more historic figures, Letchworth falls, Mount Morris Dam, and more. Dunwoody is able to focus on the project by staying in an apartment provided by Greg O’Connell as he works on his masterpiece. The legends that have made their home on the wall include; Gen. William A. Mills, John Wesley Powell, Ross Barnes, Mary Seymour Howell, Mary Jemison, and Francis Bellamy.

 

Honoring Don Sylor

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Sue Sylor infront of one of her favorite works of art. The framed photos are not for sale. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis

DANSVILLE — It was a bittersweet tribute as the community gathered to honor the work of a former photographer and friend.

Don Sylor was a professional photographer who passed away on May 29, 2013. He spent over four decades doing what he loved most. In 1972, Sylor opened his own photography studio on Main Street. It was in the only vacant storefront at the time (now Dogwood Floral Company). It was there his vision came to life as he matted his own photos, and a few years later did custom framework.

Sue Sylor, Don’s wife approached Dansville ArtWorks about donating some of her late husband’s work to the art center.  It was decided that the work could go in the newly opened solo exhibit. Don Sylor Retrospective: Images of the Coast is a deep look into his work in Cape Cod. The solo exhibit runs from June 7 until Aug. 31. All matted, limited signed prints are $99 and all prints, limited edition are $60. All of the proceeds go to benefit Dansville ArtWorks.

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There was a great turnout for the grand opening of the Don Sylor Retrospective on June 7. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

“I really appreciate doing this exhibit here,” Sue Sylor said. “He would love having his art in the Dansville ArtWorks. He grew up here, went to school here, and we raised both our kids here.”

Sylor said he did a lot of portraits, weddings, senior photos, passports, Foster Wheeler images, Instructor Publication, Retsof Salt Mines images,, and much more.

“I am glad to have his work be seen again,” she said. “The photos needed a better home than being stored in a box. I am glad they are in the gallery.”

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Another favorite is the blue canoe that caught Don’s eye as they walked on the shore. PHOTOS BY DON SYLOR

John Adamski has been a professional wildlife photographer for over four decades as well. He had a chance to know Sylor for a short amount of time.

“I had a chance to meet Don when I went to get some custom framing done. Don shared some of his work with me before and showed me a lot of it in the back room,” he said. “Whenever I needed some large prints matted or custom frames done, I would go to Don. He had a great style.”

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There are many photos of boats, lighthouses, oceans, beaches, and landscapes available for purchase at the gallery. PHOTO BY DON SYLOR

Nicole Alioto, Dansville ArtWorks board president said it is fantastic to have Don Sylor’s work on display at the art center.

“It is fantastic to be able to have the fresh new space, and an honor to have Don Sylor’s work on display this summer. We are able to have the solo exhibits where we had our first gallery when we started,” she said. “Bernard Dick is our next solo artist that we will have in that space from September to November. We have a Holiday Craft Bazaar in November. It will become Santa Claus’ workshop for Winter in the Village.”

Sue Sylor mentioned how Cape Cod was a bit of a sanctuary for them. It had been their honeymoon, and a place they returned to several times throughout their lives. Don Sylor would be published in the Cape Cod Life Magazine many times. All of the work he did there was Freelance Photography. Most of the time it was whatever caught his eye. Don had a gift and he used it to enhance the way people saw the world around them. Several of his lighthouse photos were sold at galleries in Cape Cod.

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A beautiful photo of a silent boat alone in the ocean. PHOTO BY DON SYLOR

The Sylor Family went back to the shores of Cape Cod in 2014, 2015, and 2016 to take in the memories of a life well lived. They plan to go back again in the near future.

For more information on upcoming events at Dansville ArtWorks visit http://www.dansvilleartworks.comFor more information on Bernard Dick visit https://www.bernarddick.com/blog/post/index?Post_page=3

Old Fort Niagara: History of America

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You are now entering Old Fort Niagara. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis

YOUNGSTOWN — Along the banks of the Niagara River rests an important part of our American history that has withstood more than three centuries.

After two previous posts had failed to make it through the harsh brutality of war the French established Fort Niagara in 1726. It has forever been known as “The French Castle” for its impressive architecture.

The British gained control over the famous fort after a 19-day siege during the French and Indian War in 1759.

Afterwards, during the American Revolutionary War, the British were forced to give the fort to the United States in a treaty signed in 1796.

However, the British managed to capture the fort once again in 1813 during the War of 1812. Once again, the United States were able to get control of the fort in 1815 at the end of the war.

After this last conflict it became a place to train soldiers from the Civil War to Korean War. Today, the U.S. Coast Guard represents the only military still present on the site.

Old Fort Niagara was restored between 1926 and 1934. It is operated today by the Old Fort Niagara Association, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Admission fees, Museum Shop sales, grants, and donations provide support for the operation of the site. Membership in the Old Fort Niagara Association is open to all.

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Our tour guide Toby is explaining to us about the importance of the different cannons used in battle. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

When you think of all the battles and conflicts that took place on the grounds of this fort it makes you appreciate military history even more.

 

The last time I was at Old Fort Niagara it was back in the late 1980s, and there was not much to be seen. It was not nearly as advanced as it is nowadays. It was a breathtaking sight to be there more than 30 years later to see what the association has done with this historic gem now.

 

My mother, Lisa Yvette and I went back and saw a museum and gift shop had been established in a magnificent building across the parking lot from the Old Fort Niagara Lighthouse.

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The Historic Old Fort Niagara Lighthouse. It is a beacon in the storm. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

Within the museum we were able to see the story of the fort unfold with photos, uniforms, documents, and items dug up from the ground by archeologists. Also, there was the original Old Fort Niagara Flag that had been taken by the British long ago. It had been hidden away in Scotland since the early 1990s. Now it is finally back where it belongs at Old Fort Niagara.

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The Original Old Fort Niagara Flag had been captured by the British. It was later taken to Scotland. We got it back in the early 1990s. It was restored and now sits behind glass in the museum. It is 25 feet tall, and has 15 stripes and 15 stars. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

They also show you a 15-minute video talking about the rich history of the fort, and the importance of what you are about to witness as you walk around the grounds.

Once we were out and about to take in the sights of the gorgeous fort and all the history that she had to offer our guide (Toby) gave us a quick story about her.

It was at that moment we realized that a lot had changed in 30 years. This was not going to be the same experience we had three decades ago. We saw that the towers, powder room, and the castle itself had been furnished with items that took us back in time.

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The French Castle is the oldest building still standing at the fort. It has withstood every battle for 300 years. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

As I walked through the castle, I saw a chapel, officers’ headquarters, military kitchen, trading post, and so much more. We were able to see the castle come to life. We could hear the echoes of times long ago. We could feel the souls of those who had come and gone from within those walls.

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The Jesuit Chapel is across the hall from the trade post. It was a lovely sight. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

On a decent day you can clearly see Fort George across the river and the shores of Canada in the distance. This beautiful view can best be seen on the third floor of the towers and where the cannons rest.

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Across the way is Fort George. This a view from the cannons. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

We noticed a couple reenactors were giving demonstrations outside on the grounds. One had the British uniform and the other was wearing the French uniform.

This is our renactor who spent most of his life doing this kind of work. Photos by Jasmine Willis.

The French reenactor said he had been doing this his whole life, and for the last eight years he had taken it on as a profession. His sister mended the uniforms and his parents got the family tradition started long ago.

He was very passionate about what it means to bring history alive, and about what it means to wear the uniforms and be the part of a soldier. He talked about the epic battles they would get to reenact with hundreds of them out on the grounds right after Fourth of July.

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A view from the third floor of the towers. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

The last thing we did before we ended our adventure at Old Fort Niagara was pay our respects at the cemetery. This is the final resting place for those who fought and died for our freedom from the American Revolutionary War to WWII. The thing that touched my heart the most was the decorated tomb of the unknown soldiers who rest there.

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Here is a decorated tomb for the unknown officers and enlisted men who lost their lives in battle here. PHOTOS BY JASMINE WILLIS

There is passion and heart that still rests on the shores of the Niagara River. If you wish to take part in the rich history take time to visit Old Fort Niagara. For more information including hours, ticket prices, and events go to https://www.oldfortniagara.org