Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fort George and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada

After viewing Niagara Falls we did a little shopping and a sales lady told us about a British fort and lovely little town on Lake Ontario just north of the falls, so off we went!

The British fort was built between 1796 and 1799 to guard the strategic river mouth and the town of Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake).  There was also great concern about the threat of an American invasion on this isolated and vulnerable settlement.

It was interesting to read about the British viewpoint of the War of 1812 in the fort's displays.  In Canada, Americans are viewed as the aggressors when, at school, we were taught that British actions were the cause of the war. 

 In fact, in May 1813 a massive bombardment by American artillery batteries pounded the fort into a smoking ruin leaving the powder magazine as the only building to survive.

Two days later, the Americans invaded forcing the British to withdraw.  The Americans re-fortified the site and occupied it, and the town, for the next seven months.  In December, the Americans abandoned Fort George and the British re-occupied it.

It was finally abandoned in the late 1820s but, more than a century later, was reconstructed to its pre-1813 appearance.  These are the blockhouses.  They served as barracks, store houses and the last line of defense for the garrison.

Officers were expected to live like gentlemen, even on the frontier.  They attempted to re-create their quarters to the standards they were accustomed to in Great Britain.

Some furniture was brought from home and some was purchased from local cabinetmakers or tradesmen.

Elaborate mess rules were established and social life because a military version of civilian "high society."  Dinners were sophisticated affairs complete with fine silverware and china.

Even junior officers were allowed to bring half a ton of personal belongings to make their stay at any outpost more comfortable.

This building provided the officers' mess with elaborate full-course dinners.  Army cooks and civilian cooks  hired in the nearby town were expected to be able to prepare traditional British delicacies.

Enlisted men didn't have it so easy.  Deserters, drunken soldiers, and other unfortunates were to confined to small dark cells.  Flogging was the punishment for most offences.

After touring the fort (I have LOT more pictures of it) we walked to Niagara-on-the-Lake for some lunch.  It is a beautiful little town.

We even got to enjoy a parade of Boy Scouts dressed in 1812 garb.  Canada is celebrating 200 years of peace and 2014 marks the anniversary of some of the heaviest fighting to take place during the War of 1812.

A couple more souvenir photos of our time in Canada.........

...........and we joined the crowd trying to get back into the United States.  Not to worry though - we're back in Pennsylvania and our adventures continue.


  1. hahaha! Richard goes over the Falls in a barrel! :D

  2. And it's always interesting. As a lover of history and patriotism these old forts hold a lot of interest to me. Thanks for sharing.