A War of 1812 relic
Fort George is a reconstruction of a War of 1812 British fort that once stood at this site.
allowing visitors a glimpse of the past
It is a National Historic Site and is part of Parks Canada. The site is not open year round but is only open from April 1 to October 31. For more information visit its official site at Fort George National Historic Site
The fort is not actually located in Niagara Falls proper but is in the town of Niagara-On-The-Lake about 20 minutes north of Niagara Falls at mouth of the Niagara River in a strategic location across the river from the American Fort Niagara. The forts address is 26 Queen St, Niagara-On-The-Lake.
The original fort at this location was completed in 1802 as a result of the British having to abandon Fort Niagara to the Americans as part of Jay’s Treaty settling border disputes among other things. It included the Powder Magazine still present at the fort today. In fact the Powder Magazine is still the original building and it is the oldest military structure surviving in Ontario.
Location of Fort George National Historic Site
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During the War of 1812 the fort served as the headquarters for the British Centre Division under Major General Sir Isaac Brock. On May 25, 1813 Fort Niagara opened fire from 700 metres away and destroyed every building at the fort except the Powder Magazine. On May 27, 1813 the Americans landed with 5000 troops and overwhelmed the 1200 defenders who beat a hasty retreat.
After stifling further American advances from this location the fort was re-captured on December 10, 1813 after the Americans retreated. Fort Niagara was also captured soon thereafter.
The fort was partially rebuilt but for the most part was abandoned for other facilities in the 1820’s. The military continued to use the site for various activities but in the 1930’s it was decided to reconstruct the fort as it would have looked in its original form.
The re-creation you see today of earthworks, palisades, officers quarters, barracks and blockhouses is not very big but it does give you a glimpse into a time long passed. During the summer months volunteers from the Friends of Fort George organization dress as period guards and demonstrate drill and tactics using muskets and cannons and perform Fife and Drum military recitals.
A battle re-enactment occurs annually drawing participants from across the continent.
There is free admission to the fort on Canada Day a National Holiday that occurs annually on July 1. A large fireworks display also takes place at the site at nightfall on this day.
Fort George is probably not going to be the first destination to visit in the Niagara Falls area after seeing The Falls but it is of interest to those who enjoy history and it is set at the edge of Niagara-On-The-Lake which is in itself a popular tourist destination that many will partake in. There are a few other sites of historical significance in the area that you could make a whole day of visiting. In itself the fort probably commands no more than an hour to visit.
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