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The Globe and Mail

Toronto turning purple and green Saturday for celebration of War of 1812 bicentennial

As a celebration to kick off the bicentennial of the War of 1812, Toronto has declared Saturday "Queen's York Rangers Day."

The Queen's York Rangers, part of the Army Reserve formation for the GTA, are the regiment most associated with the War of 1812 – they built Fort York, were the first regiment in Toronto, and are credited with taking on a lion's share of the war's battles.

"We are the country that we are today because the War of 1812 was fought," Darrell Bricker, Honorary Colonel of the Queen's York Rangers, said.

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"They described taking over Canada, at the time, as being a mere matter of marching and it turned out not to be the case."

On Saturday, the rangers will play host for the Annual Toronto Officers Garrison Ball and the CN Tower will be lit in the Rangers' colours of purple and green. The ball happens every year but in celebration of the war's bicentennial, this year it's a much grander event than ever.

Along with dinner and dancing, the black-tie event will include a historical re-enactment, highland dancers and a pipe and drum band. But, according to Col. Bricker, the biggest spectacle will be the ensembles.

"Normally you kind of look at ladies' gowns as being the marker of what's going on, but the fashion is actually on the guys this time around," he said.

"The highland regiments are all dressed up in their kilts, the rangers are dressed in green, there are other regiments that are dressed in scarlet. It's a very colourful night."

Over 600 soldiers from 18 units are expected to attend the ball at the Liberty Grand at Exhibition Place, along with Defence Minister Peter Mackay and his new wife, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Mayor Rob Ford, the United Kingdom High Commissioner and the Consul General of the United States.

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