BRONTE HARBOUR YACHT CLUB - ITS NAME & BURGEE
In the early part of the 19th Century. Napoleon Bonaparte had so threatened and terrorized Europe that he was known as the "Bogy Man" (the original use of the term). Kingdoms were falling left and right as the victorious French Army swept acrsss the Continent. Napoleon then wanted to start to expand French influence outside Europe & chose to attack Egypt.
When the nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea heard that Bonaparte had set sail from Marseilles with his invasion fleet they were terrorized. None had the political stability or military muscle to oppose him.
The French fleet besieged and took Malta on its way to the mouth of the Nile. After disembarking the Army, the fleet was at anchor with more than half of the green ships' companies ashore scrounging for various items. It was at this moment that Nelson's fleet attacked.
Nelson had ordered his Captains to attack as soon as the French were sighted. The Battle of the Nile was long and fierce. The French fleet was defeated and sighs of relief and silent prayers rose from the Kings whose nations bordered the Mediterranean.
The King of Corsica who was so overjoyed on hearing the news of Nelson's victory, awarded the Admiral the title of Duke of Bronte.
When the final threat of the "Boogy Man" was removed, first at Trafalgar and then Waterloo, everyone was relieved and ecstatic. So happy were the British people, they named various places after the two victorious leaders, Nelson and Wellington.
This brings us to Upper Canada and the Oakville area. The Village of Bronte now is part of Oakville. In this locale Naval veterans settled and gave their Admiral's name. title and victories to the environs. Thus we have the Village of Bronte with its fishing harbour, the townships of Nelson and Trafalgar, the once major thoroughfares in Oakville of Trafalgar Road and Navy Street and later Nelson Secondary School.
In setting up the Bronte Harbour Yacht Club and its Burgee, the Charter Mebers of this Yacht Club knew the historical ties and Naval traditions of our area. So the Burgee carries three stripes on a blue field. The blue field is the ocean and the three white stripes symbolize the three victories of Lord Nelson: Copenhagen - Nile - Trafalgar.
Some time ago some of the members of B.H.Y.C. wanted to know where the anchor on the front lawn came from.
It is from the Canadian Steamship Liner "Dalhousie City" which was a pleasure boat sailing from Toronto to Port Dalhousie during the twenties, thirties and early forties.
When the boat was put in dry-dock, the anchor was acquired by a Captain Ruddel, and upon his death he willed it to his step-son Wilf Locking, who donated it to the Bronte Yacht Club.
HISTORY OF BRONTE HARBOUR YACHT CLUB BURGEE
B.H.Y.C is situated on land that is steeped in history going back to the days of Admiral Lord Nelson. Trafalgar county, Nelson township and Bronte were all significant names in the life of this great leader. With this thought in mind, your first executive designed our burgee to reflect the sagas of those years.
The three white stripes commemorate the three battles of Nelson: Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar. They were slanted in such a way to allow for the addition of a crown in the upper corner of the tack, if and when the Club ever became fortunate enough to be granted a Royal Charter. Sad to say the Royal Charters are no longer issued.
Thanks to Fred and Elsie Lowe
(Excerpt from February 1971 Bronte Flyer)
WHY THE NAME BRONTE?
The Oakvllle-Bronte area of Southern Ontario was settled after the Napoleonic Wars by retired Royal Navy types. The names these settlers chose for their new homes were selected from the events and people that shook and shaped their history. Nelson and Trafalgar were natural selections for the townships. But why chose Bronte?
Well, in 1798, Napoleon mustered a fleet at Marseilles to launch his Egyptian Campaign. Not having enough men to crew the fleet necessitated his pressing many French farm labourers into service. He then sailed to Egypt via Malta which he attacked and took. Word flew about the Mediterranean that Nelson (sic) was on sea with an army and no country which bordered on that body of water was safe from his potential attack.
Nelson and his battle fleet were sent to pursue and destroy this French force but the English had no idea of the ultimate destination of Napoleon. A prolonged game of cat and mouse followed. The results of which caused the French to reach Egypt safely, the English to gnash their teeth in frustration and the numerous monarchs along the Mediterranean coasts to wet their pants in anticipation of the Napoleonic army popping up and pulling their shakey thrones out from under them.
Then, on the evening of August 1, 1798, the English fleet reached Aboukir Bay near the mouth of the Nile where they found the French in proper harbour defensive positions. That is, each French ship's bow was moored to the next ship's stern with anchor chains and lines strung between the ships to prevent enemy vessels from passing in between. The French fleet was moored in this manner in a wide arc around the bay with all guns facing the sea.
In effect it was a floating fortress. Nelson was so angry and frustrated at not catching Napoleon at sea that he ordered an immediate attack. This was contrary to Eighteenth century Conventions of War which felt that "gentlemen" waited until their opponent was ready to come out to fight the next morning in the customary line astern position.
Horatio had so inspired his captains to fight that upon receiving the order to attack they did so with speed and claw. Each captain was anxious to be the first to engage the enemy. It wasn't an orderly advance, but a wild, helter-skelter race, with all sails set right into the midst of the anchored French fleet.
The ensuing battle was a knock down, dragged out, toe to toe, eyeball to eyeball, good ole' Eighteenth century slug fest. During this wild melee the French Flagship exploded with such force and violence that it stunned and overwhelmed both sides so completely they stopped firing and watched the conflagration for five minutes.
Finally the French were completely shattered and the day, or rather the night went to Nelson.
Why were the French defeated?
More than half of their crews, these French farm boys, were ashore looking for water and stores and were unable or rather unwilling to rejoin their ships. So they stood on the shore and watched!
What's all this got to do with Bronte?
Remember those wet pant monarchs I mentioned? Well, one was the King of Corsica who was so delighted at Napoleon's defeat that he bestowed upon Nelson the title Duke of Bronte. Bronte is just another word for Nelson.
(excerpt form November 1971 Bronte Flyer)