The Tecumseh Parkway is a driving route running along the Thames River that traces the October 1813 pursuit of the British and First Nations armies by the Americans that culminated in the Battle of the Thames, the death of Tecumseh, and the burning of the Moravian village of Fairfield.
Take a drive in Chatham-Kent and visit the very spot where the British lost control and Tecumseh's Confederacy fell apart in October 1813. The Battle of the Thames is marked vividly along the Tecumseh Parkway, located on Highway 2 (Longwoods Road) and River Line. Tecumseh was a Shawnee warrior and chief, and one of the most celebrated First Nation's leaders in history. During the war of 1812, Tecumseh's confederacy helped in the capture of Fort Detroit. He was killed on October 5, 1813 when U.S. naval forces took control of Lake Erie.
The distinctive Tecumseh Parkway signage will guide you in from the 401 and along the 11 stops on the route - all clearly marked stops with interpretive signage that helps to bring the heritage story alive.
Tecumseh Monument Park
You can visit Tecumseh Parkway turn off site #10, Battle of the Thames and Tecumseh Monument Park to enjoy the fresh outdoors and rich history. Take a picnic and stop in at
Parks Blueberries for some fresh berries or sugary treats before you go. The Tecumseh Monument Park is approximately fourteen acres along the north shore of the Thames River. A small stone monument dedicated to Chief Tecumseh was erected in the early 20th century. In the 1960s, a larger monument and plaque was erected by the Canadian Federal Government.
In 2014, nationally-regarded sculptor Gordon Reeve, originally from Chatham, was commissioned to create a dedication to Chief Tecumseh and the First Nations people. Called "A Place of Many Grasses", this site includes gardens with nearly 500 varieties of tall grasses and a path resembling the Two Rows Wampum of 1613. It features a 50 feet by 48 feet stainless steel sculpture titled Wisdom. The sculpture is etched to represent birch bark and in the shape of a tortoise shell with outlines of animals, fish and fowl along the top. This project was supported by the Government of Canada's 1812 Commemoration Fund.
You can also visit the Friends of Tecumseh Monument Interpretive Plaza, established in 2015, with four interpretive panels on Chief Tecumseh. The panels tell the story of his early years through conflict with American expansionism ending with his death and the end of the First Nation's confederacy which he led.
While you travel along the Tecumseh Parkway you can stop at the following eleven sites, each stop has an interpretive panel (en français aussi) telling an important part of the story of the retreat:
Trudell Farm & St. Peter's Church Peace Garden
On September 29, the front of the retreating British column had reached Louis Trudell's farm on the Thames River. Trudell owned a large tract of land and an inn in the predominantly French settlement near the mouth of the Thames River. A Roman Catholic Church, St. Peter's, had been established just east of Trudell's in 1802. The British army remained near this site through September 30 to allow the stragglers to catch up. However, on October 1, scouts spotted American ships at the mouth of the Thames forcing the retreat to resume.
American Encampment: Drake Farm, Sunday October 3, 1813. On September 29, 1813, General Harrison liberated Detroit and proclaimed authority in present day Michigan. He then set off with 3,500 troops, including 200 Wyandot, Shawnee, and Seneca warriors, in pursuit of Proctor and Tecumseh. By the evening of October 3, Harrison's army was encamped at this site, the Drake farm, with the U.S. naval vessels, Scorpion, Tigress, and Porcupine moored offshore while the British and the First Nations were encamped at the Forks of the Thames River (present day Chatham, Ontario).
Skirmish at McCrae House, Wednesday, December 15, 1813. During the American occupation of the lower Thames, this house was used as a base for U.S. troops. Just before dawn on December 15, 1813, militia soldiers scaled the icy banks of the Thames River and fired a volley through the windows and doors of the house. Following a brief skirmish, the Americans surrendered to the militia with one soldier killed, four others wounded, and 38 American troops captured without a single Canadian casualty. It was the only time that a Canadian militia unit has captured a regular U.S. Army unit.
First Nations Encampment: Thomas McCrae Farm, Friday, October 1, 1813. Thomas McCrae was an early settler, innkeeper, and political figure in Raleigh Township along the Thames River. On October 1, 1813, with the British encamped across the river and to the east at Dolsen's Landing, the First Nations contingent encamped in this area for one night. Tecumseh is believed to have visited McCrae at his home on the evening of October 1.
British River Crossing
Site of the British Army river crossing to Dolsen's Landing on Friday, October 1, 1813. Upon sighting American war ships at the mouth of the Thames River on October 1, 1813, the British Army boarded boats called scows and bateaux near this site.
Forks of the Thames
On October 2, 1813, Tecumseh began to move his warriors up-river to the Forks. He stage a rearguard action at the Forks on October 4 to slow the American advance. The skirmish lasted about two hours. Two Americans were killed along with several warriors. Tecumseh was struck in the arm by a musket ball. The skirmish ended when the American artillery fired their cannon and drove the warriors off, but not before they set fire to the cabin containing the stored arms.
The mill and outbuildings of John McGregor stood at the rear of this property in 1813. The First Nations contingent encamped at this site on the night of October 2 and 3. It was here that Tecumseh met with his fellow chiefs to discuss plans to retreat to Fairfield and stage rearguard action at the Forks the next day to slow the American advance.
The American forces encamped in this area on the night of October 4 and were entertained by fireworks as the ammunition left on the ships exploded as British vessels burned following a hastily planned retreat.
Christopher Arnold, a sergeant in the Kent militia who had served at the capture of Fort Detroit, established a mill on this site by 1813. The First Nations warriors encamped here on the night of October 4 and crossed to the north side of the Thames River the next morning. It's recorded that Tecumseh visited with Arnold and other neighbours that morning. He remained at Arnold's Mill until the American cavalry approached, at which time he rode off to join his warriors.
Sherman's Farm & Kent Military Reenactment Society Garden
Samuel Sherman was an early settler along the Thames River and in 1811, he constructed a large timber-frame barn. The British Army camped on this site on the night of October 4, 1813, before making a hasty retreat from advancing American forces early October 5.
Battle of the Thames
On October 5, 1813, 3,000 Americans, including their Aboriginal Allies, defeated 950 British, Canadians, and Natives at this site. Among those killed was the famous Shawnee warrior and chief, Tecumseh, who had worked to unite the First Nations in neighbouring American territory to resist settler expansion into their homelands and unwanted influence in their lives.
Fairfield & Fairfield Museum Peace Garden
Major General Proctor spent the night of October 4 at Fairfield with his family. On October 5, his family left the village for Burlington Heights, while Proctor joined his troops. In the late afternoon, Proctor and about 15 men dashed through Fairfield on horseback, heading east, pursued by mounted Kentuckians. As the story of the British defeat spread through the village, many of the civilian refugees began to flee east as well, leaving their possessions strewn in the streets. By evening, the village was occupied by American forces.