Frequently Asked Questions.

If these answers, along with the rest of the information on the web site, do not answer all of your questions, feel free to email the unit your question.

1. How much does it cost to join the group and/or get into the hobby?
2. How many events do I have to attend if I am part of this group?
3. What are the group's standards for authenticity?
4. Why do you wear white facings on your coat when others say red is the correct facing colour?
5. What umbrella group are you part of?
6 . Why do you portray John Butler's Coy?
7 . Why do you portray Loyalists, when they lost the war?
8 . Do I need a firearms license to own or purchase a musket?
9 . What kind of tent can I get?
10 . How does someone get a promotion in the group?
11 . How are decisions made in the group?
12 . How many people are in the group?
13 . Does the group do anything over the winter months?
14. Does this group do any other time periods other than Rev War?
15. Do I have to be from the Niagara region to join this group?
16. Female soldiers? Unshaven soldiers? Hand sewing?
17. What about health problems or dietary issues?
18. Are kids and/or pets allowed?
19. Are there any special rules?
20. Is it really hot in all that wool?

1. How much does it cost to join the group and/or get into the hobby?

Insurance/group fees are due once a year. Every member of the group, no matter what role or what age, must be insured for third-party liability. This covers potential accidents that could happen to the public when they witness an event we attend. It does not cover first-person liability, i.e. insurance for group members because we are assumed to knowingly and willingly be taking a risk being in the hobby. It is only applicable regarding people not associated with the hobby or historic site who may get injured (i.e., trip in our camp, the camp fire burns them etc). We get our insurance through the National Firearms Association, who offer $5 million liability coverage for a low price. Most other reenactment groups in Canada get insurance through them as well. Our fees are one of the lowest in the reenacting community. Most of our fees go toward paying the insurance charged by the NFA. The remainder is kept by the group for use in purchasing things that are beneficial to the group. In the past this has included a group fly for sitting under away from the sun, as well as clothing patterns for our group members to use free of charge. Our fees, which our commander likes to collect before December 31st, are as follows (prices are in CAD). First two members of family $25 each; every other member of the same family $20 each; kids six and under pay only the insurance cost which currently is $15. Furthermore, since we belong to an organizational brigade, the BAR, we also have to pay them a yearly fee as follows: Primary household member, $25; subsequent members of same household, $5 each; persons under the age of 16 are free.

The other expense is "slightly" more than this. You will need to get your 'kit' together. The cost involved here depends a lot on whether or not you can sew, or are willing to learn and whether you have items from other time periods that can be used in Rev. You will need a basic kit in order to participate at events. The total expense for ladies, fabric and labour, will cost about $500 CAD if you do not sew any of it yourself. For men this will be roughly $600 CAD. Add in military beltings and a musket and you've just spent another $1500 CAD. Every family/individual needs a tent. We have one extra for the group, but you'll eventually need your own and that will cost roughly $250 CAD. Eventually you will want to get some authentic eating utensils, and various other sundry items. The price on that depends on what you buy. See our clothing section for a detailed list what what defines a kit.

Don't be discouraged by these quotations! I'd rather be up front with you so that you can make an intelligent decision about joining the hobby. These quotations would be about the same in any group, so we are not any different. But the good thing about all this is, once you've got everything you need, the only on-going expense in the hobby is yearly insurance and fuel getting to the events. Don't feel like you need to get everything right away. The clothing is the important thing. Add things to your kit over time and don't go into debt!

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2. How many events do I have to attend if I am part of this group?

Technically, none. It's a hobby and no one can coerce you into attending any. You get out of the hobby whatever you put into it. But we do try to highlight certain events every season as 'all-up' events where we strongly encourage members to attend. Our priorities include all Rev War events at Fort Niagara and all Rev events that historically were battles Butler's Rangers participated in. We attend at least two events per year sponsored by our brigade. Beyond that, we will try to attend events that we are invited to and look interesting.

We usually have monthly training evenings for soldiers over the winter and soldiers are required to attend at least four of them unless work/family issues arise that are important. (See training page). We also do a few 'publicity' events over the year at gun shows and history-themed fairs, in order to recruit. We encourage you to attend as many events as you can; it's where the fun happens. We expect people to attend at least a few events every year, and if you cannot attend a particular one, then we request out of courtesy, you inform the commander a few days ahead of time so that he can better plan the camp layout.

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3. What are the group's standards for authenticity?

There are two terms in this hobby I hope are never applied to us. The first is that we are 'farby.' This word originally comes from the German noun 'Farben' which literally means 'colours' (plural). What it means in the hobby is someone who does something very unauthentically. It could be women wearing make up, someone using modern fabrics in the clothing s/he wears, or even eating modern meals at events. The other term that is distasteful is 'authenticity nazi.' These are the people who count every stitch in a coat arm, who gossip about others for using metal cooking irons, and who think it's a mortal sin to have a cot in one's tent.

Our group will never be either extreme. I would estimate that we lean closer toward the 'nazi' side of things, but those hobbyists take this to the extreme and take the fun out of it for many people. Authenticity is important, but having fun, making friendships, and creating memories is just as crucial. If this hobby was not fun, not many would do it. We like to think that we enforce authenticity on things that we can control or change. For things that we cannot, we do not worry about it. So for example, we do not allow: wall tents, tent flys, slatted chairs, modern eyewear, metal cooking irons, women wearing make-up, lantern stands, or baled hay to remain unbroken. However, things we cannot control and which we allow include: people with disabilities to have some allowance of accomodation to allow them to still participate, and meat thermometers in our food to ensure safety of the meals. We allow garments to be sewn by machine on any inside seams, and hand stitching on the outside. Coolers are in the camp, inside wooden boxes, to keep our food cool during the event since there are no ice houses around. We insist that you use linen, hemp or wool and not cotton. Although we eat period-correct meals, we do not take it to that extra level by eating only the things that were local in the area the event is in, and available at the time of year the original battle took place in. In short, we believe very strongly in authenticity, but do not take it to an insane level.

A more thorough examination of this topic, written by our unit commander and which is influential on the unit, can be read here.

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4. Why do you wear white facings on your coat when others say red is the correct facing colour?

Because white facings are the accurate, authentic choice. The commander of this group did research during the winter of 2006/2007 and after pouring over numerous pieces of primary evidence, came to the conclusion that white is correct. The use of red has been assumed for over one hundred years, yet there is no evidence from primary sources that we are aware of that points to red. Red is based solely on presumptions in secondary literature. However, with regard to white facings, there is evidence of it in the enforcement of the Beating Order given to Major Butler, in a list of items requested for Rangers, and in a post-war painting of a person who had been in Butler's Rangers. However, the strongest evidence comes from an eyewitness account at the time, where soldiers identify themselves as Butler's men from Niagara, and they are described as travelling with Indians and wearing green coats, turned up with white.

We are proud to be the driving force behind this evidence and the catalyst by which all other Butler Ranger groups, and the reenacting hobby in general will benefit from. We are the first group to change over and hope that other groups will be moved by the weight of evidence that is out there. The evidence was compliled in essay form, fully footnoted, by our commander. It is in .PDF version and is twenty pages long and can be accessed here.

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5. What umbrella group are you part of?

We have applicant unit status within The Brigade of the American Revolution, registered as Capt. Peter Hare's Coy of Butler's Rangers. At the request of the senior Butler Ranger unit in the BAR, the BAR Board has frozen the usage of Col. John Butler's Coy, so we had to register with them under a different name. However, our main impression is still the Colonel's Coy. Many reenacting groups portray more than one military unit as a second impression, so that is how we view Capt. Hare's Coy; our secondary impression. For most events and in our own minds, we are the Colonel's Coy, but if we attend BAR events we must register as Hare's Coy.

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6 . Why do you portray John Butler's Coy?

We chose Col. Butler's company because most of our members live in the Niagara region of Ontario, and this is the last place where John Butler lived before his death in 1796. It is where the bulk of his corps settled after the Revolution was finished. The corps was disbanded in the area in 1784. Descendants of Butler's Rangers went on to fight again during the War of 1812. There is so much history in this area connected with Butler's Rangers that we felt it was natural to choose the Colonel's own company to portray. Moreover, some of our group members are descendants of actual Butler's Rangers, the only recreated Ranger group that can make such a claim. By portraying the Colonel's Coy we are not trying to elevate ourselves as superior to other Butler Ranger groups out there. We have no plans for anyone in the group to portray Col. Butler, or even the field commander of this unit Benjamin Pawling. We simply wish to portray the local history that we have here in the backyards of the Niagara region and honour the founder of our area by doing so.

There have been some presumptions made over the years by people in the hobby that no Ranger groups would portray Col. Butler's Coy unless that group was composed completely of actual descendants of Butler's Rangers, since they have a link through their lineage to the Rangers. We disagree with that notion and think it is audacious for them to make decisions for anyone other than those in their own group. And the reality is, there is no legal basis for enforcing such a viewpoint. We think that Col. Butler's company deserves to be represented in the hobby and we are doing it.

We have also heard that there is a new Ranger group out there also portraying Col. Butler's Coy. All I can say is that we have been together informally since 2003, but we will not try to force anyone to change their name, nor should they ask that of us. There is already too much negative politics within the hobby and we do not want to create more.

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7 . Why do you portray Loyalists, when they lost the war?

Let's clarify that United Empire Loyalists did not lose the war. They were part of the army that was on the losing side, yes, but their contributions to battles were very influential in the theatre of war. Butler's Rangers were especially effective and earned accolades from their Rebel enemies, who labelled them "blue-eyed savages" and said that they were harder to find in the forest than a pack of wolves.

United Empire Loyalists of all social/ethnic background were the founders of what became Canada. We will always defend the founders of our country, as we would expect anyone to do for their native land. We believe that the Loyalists were on the right side of the issue, even though they were on the losing side of the war. There are a plethora of reasons why we could say the Loyalists were right and the Rebels were wrong, however for the sake of brevity, let's just say that upholding the constitution and looking for peaceful solutions to political impasses are traits to be admired. Intimidation and public humility, as seen in the image to the right carried out by members of the so-called 'Committees of Safety,' are not to be admired and seriously undermines their mantra of liberty. No army wins all of the time, but nonetheless if the cause is just, we should be proud of what those pioneers did regardless of the outcome. And we are proud to represent friends of the Government.

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8 . Do I need a firearms license to own or purchase a musket?

No. We have researched it; everyone has researched it. No, you don't. It is a replica antique firearm, manufactured before 1898, yada yada yada. We have photocopies from current official police documents stating that these are exempt from the stupid firearm law. The government gets nervous when percussion cap muskets are used, but we use flint lock muskets, so no worries. Flint lock pistols are a different story, but very likely you won't ever need those. No problem for a Canadian bringing a musket into the States, and no problem for an American bringing it into Canada. The only thing you must do, is the first time you have it and are crossing the border with it, before you cross, bring it into the Customs office on your side of the border and have Customs officials fill out a form/card, showing that you had the firearm with you before you left your country. That way, when you come back, you show them this card and they know you didn't purchase it on this recent trip and they cannot charge you a customs fee. In Canada that is a green card Y-38, example shown left; in the States I'm not sure, but it will be similar. You don't need both; just the one from whichever country you reside in. Customs officials will need to see a serial number or some kind of number to record on this card. On some firelocks it is on the barrel, near the breech, to the side where the stock meets the barrel. On others it is on the underside of the barrel which means you'll have to pull out the pins and take the barrel right off the stock. In that case, if you live anywhere near a border crossing, I'd do it ahead of time, get it out of the way, and then go back and put your barrel back on the stock. Check out our links page to connect with suppliers of period firearms.

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9. What kind of tent can I get?

We made a decision at our inception that our tents would be authentic as well because we have seen too many reenactors with incorrect tents. We do not allow wall tents for anyone; wall tents are farby. The standard size that the British army issued was 7x6x6 (LxWxH). They could sleep five men in that, with all their gear. Marrying the hobby to modern necessities requires some compromise for those who have special circimstances. Therefore, we made a decision that for single people and couples, we will encourage them to use 7x6x6 wedge tents, but if they must have some extra room we will allow wedge tents with the dimensions 7x7x7. The ideal tent to own for our group would be this one, British Infantry, from Tentsmiths. For families with small children and who need to stay together overnight, the maximum dimensions we allow are 9x9x7. This is allowed only on the understanding that once the kids are old enough to be in a tent of their own, they will sleep in a regular sized tent by themselves, or the parents can split themselves up half and half in each tent with the kids. The oversized tent can then be sold, and properly sized tents used to replace it. The goal here, though not reached in perfection, is to accommodate the needs of people in modern society with legitimate needs, while striving to be authentic. Some of the larger events sponsored by the big brigades have some strict rules on tents, so we strongly urge members to stick to standard dimensions. Otherwise, you may be sleeping under the stars. Check out our links page to connect with tent suppliers. With both Panther Primitives and Tentsmiths, the tent we most strongly recommend for purchase is called the "British Infantry" Wedge tent, with or without a small bell at the back.

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10. How does someone get a promotion in the group?

We are a fairly small group right now so that is not an issue. Presently we have a Sergeant who holds rank, but we do not need anything more than that until we grow. When the time comes to promote, promotions will be given to those who show dedication to the group, know the drill well, and are supportive to, and submissive to the group. Christ said that 'he who wants to be the greatest of these, must first be the least.' That humble, caring and loyal attitude is what I look for. We have had people join our group and try to ram an agenda through on us; we don't need recruits like that. We need people who just like the hobby, are interested in what the Rangers did, and who are are fun to be around.

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11. How are decisions made in the group?

Currently, the commander makes decisions after he has consulted most or all the members of the group, especially the ones who have been in the group a long time. Once we are bigger, a committee will be formed for making decisions which includes the Officer, one NCO, one Private, and two camp followers; usually these are women. Anyone can be nominated for the committee and voted in by majority vote provided they have been in the group for at least two years and are at least 19 years old.

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12 . How many people are in the group?

Numbers fluctuate in every group. Currently we have five Rangers, three female campfollowers, and three children. Our goal is to have at least ten soldiers on the fields of battle by 2010. We hope you will want to be part of that.

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13 . Does the group do anything over the winter months?

The soldiers train once a month inside the armouries of The Lincoln and Welland Regiment 81 Lake St., on the corner of Lake St. and Welland Ave. in St. Catharines. We extend the invitation to all other reenactors to train with us in a heated location. Check out our winter training page for details. Also, we always have a yearly pot luck social function with a business meeting after the dinner. We visit, chat, meet new recruits, and go over business from the previous year, or the upcoming season. Furthermore, we attend historically-themed festivals in the area and set up a recruiting area to recruit new people to the group. This has included local gun shows, Canal Days, Marshville Heritage Festival, and Pioneer Days in Jordan.

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14. Does this group do any other time periods other than Rev War?

Yes. We are part of a legal organization called the Colonial Niagara Association of Historical Reenactors. The CNAHR is an entity we use for insurance purposes so that the insurance we pay covers any reenacting group that is part of CNAHR, regardless of time period. That includes our War of 1812 group, 1st Reg't, Lincoln Militia, who are the descendants of Butler's Rangers and who fought the Americans and defended Upper Canada for the British in 1812. The two groups are separate from each other and there is no obligation to be part of both, but it makes it easy for insurance purposes having them both under CNAHR.

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15. Do I have to be from the Niagara region to join this group?

No. We will take recruits from anywhere, but we try to heavily recruit from Southern Ontario and Western New York since that is where our current members are from.

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16. Female soldiers? Unshaven soldiers? Hand sewing?

Technically females portraying soldiers is allowed, although it is in strong opposition to the leader's desires. But since it was discussed as a group and voted on democratically, we are allowing it. As stated however, the commander is against this practice and as a measure to discourage the practice, the commander has announced that no female soldier will ever receive a promotion in our unit. As per our constitution, the commander has sole right to give or take promotions away from individuals. We are not chauvenistic; since we try to pursue historically accurate roles for every group member, obviously a female fielding as a soldier would be as historically inaccurate as a man wearing women's clothes in camp and doing the cooking, cleaning and mending. Furthermore, the brigade we belong to does not allow women to portray soldiers, so when we attend their events, we cannot field any female soldiers.

Regarding shaving, in keeping with the pursuit of historically accurate roles, soldiers were required to be clean shaven, and so we make the same rule. Soldiers did not shave every day, but every few days they did. Therefore a member of our unit may show up to an event with a couple of day's stubble, and this is also acceptable with us.

Sewing should be done by hand on all visible seams. Inside seams may be completed on a machine, though you are certainly encouraged to do all your clothing by hand.

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17. What about health problems or dietary issues?

You are always welcome. We'd have to sit down and figure out how healthy you are and determine what you could do, but don't be discouraged! There are reenactors who are in wheelchairs and come out to events. Within our current group we have a member who had a heart attack - at an event - and that member has had to alter his lifestyle but he still turns out. We will find a meaningful role for you to do as long as you have the interest. We will also be sensitive to people with special diets and vegetarians. We usually plan and coordinate meals before each event, so we will make sure people with special diets are accomodated.

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18. Are kids and/or pets allowed?

Yes. We are family-friendly, so kids are always welcome. We just ask parents to make sure that kids are in period kit and that then everyone keeps a watch out that kids do not go near the fire. Usually everyone pitches in and helps out with babysitting. Small tangent here, but since young children do not understand the concept of 'period correctness,' we relax those rules around young kids, especially with things like sippy cups and ice cream cones, etc. With regard to dogs or cats, yes, bring them, although there are some sites that do not allow animals, so double check first. Our group's only requirement would be that you have a period-correct leash on him/her. There may be some requirements for transporting them across international borders so we encourage you to research that ahead of time so that your animal and you are not turned away from the border because of lack of paperwork.

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19. Are there any special rules?

We discourage the consumption of alcohol until the last battle of the day is over. If it's a super hot day, you're having lunch, and you really need a beer, go ahead and have one. What we are trying to discourage is people passing around flasks on the battlefield while waiting for the action to start, being partly drunk, and then an accident happens. Please save your drinking until after the last battle of the day. And even once it is all done, do not get too drunk because then you just become an embarrassment and an annoyance to people and children who are trying to sleep. There are some groups in the hobby who 'party hard' and are not interested in how this impacts other units. We will not be like that; we want to be considerate of others and maintain a good reputation. Drug use is prohibited and will be grounds for removal from the group, and we try to watch our language around our small children.

Any persons who are under 18 years and his/her parent/guardian is not in the hobby, or the parent/guardian is in the hobby but not attending the event that weekend, must sign and have his/her parent/guardian sign a release form and acknowledgement of our expectations on that minor.

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20. Is it really hot in all that wool?

It's not too bad. Wool, linen, satin - they're all natural products so they breathe easily. There's no doubt that you sweat in this hobby, but that is part of the recreated life we are doing. People sweated in those days, and rarely bathed. Same with most reenactors; we sweat while we are at an event and generally do not shower until we get home. Everyone is like that so you do not need to worry about body odour because you will be no worse than others. Always remember to keep yourself watered up!

We have a group fly (awning, shown here) for people to sit under during the day and stay out of the direct sun, and with a wind, wearing wool isn't really too bad. The only bad times are from about early July to early August. Before and after that, the temperatures in the day are reasonable enough that you can cool down quickly after a battle. In the early and latter parts of the season you'll be thankful for your wools and will probably be sleeping in them.

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