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Fort George National Historic Site

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

History Overview
The following is an excerpt from the Fort George website.

"During the War of 1812, Fort George served as the headquarters for the Centre Division of the British Army. These forces included British regulars, local militia, aboriginal warriors, and Runchey's corps of freed slaves. Major General Sir Isaac Brock, "the saviour of Upper Canada" served here until his death at the Battle of Queenston Heights in October, 1812. Brock and his aide-de-camp John Macdonell were initially buried within the fort. Fort George was destroyed by American artillery fire and captured during the Battle of Fort George in May 1813. The U.S. forces used the fort as a base to invade the rest of Upper Canada, however, they were repulsed at the Battles of Stoney Creek and Beaver Dams. After a seven month occupation, the fort was retaken in December and remained in British hands for the remainder of the war. After the war, the fort was partially rebuilt, and by the 1820's it was falling into ruins. It was finally abandoned in favour of a more strategic installation at Fort Mississauga and a more protected one at Butler's Barracks."

"The following is a description of our tour of Fort George"

Historic Fort George…
I’ve visited Fort Henry in Kingston a number of times, so I had this mental picture of what a Canadian Fort should look like. When I finally visited Fort George, I was amazed at how different it was from Fort Henry. I suppose that I shouldn’t have been that surprised, given that the present Fort Henry was completed being built in 1837, while Fort George was completed in 1802. Fort Henry stands on high ground, overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It is made of stone, has high walls and is surrounded by deep trenches. Fort George, on the other hand, is made up of wooden buildings surrounded by wooden palisades. The Fort is located on the Niagara River across from the American’s Fort Niagara. Fort George became the British Army Headquarters. Major General Sir Isaac Brock, "the saviour of Upper Canada", served here until his death at the Battle of Queenston Heights in October 1813. Of course, walking through the Fort's gate, is like walking back in time! You could almost here orders being shouted out by the British officers. Standing in the middle of the compound, I was able to take the whole Fort in. I tried to picture myself living in the Fort back in the early 1800's. I wondered if I would have been one of the officers living comfortably in the Officers' Quarters or I would have been a regular soldier, living in one of the windowless Blockhouses. I know which I would have preferred!

According to Wikipedia...
The following is a description of Fort George as reproduced from Wikipedia. "Fort George National Historic Site is a historic military structure at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, that was the scene of several battles during the War of 1812. The fort consists of earthworks and palisades, along with internal structures, including an officer's quarters, blockhouses to accommodate other ranks and their families, and a stone powder magazine, which is the only original building on the site. Opposite the fort, across the Niagara River, stands Fort Niagara in New York, which can be seen from Fort George's ramparts.
Fort George was built by the British Army after Jay's Treaty (1796) required Britain to withdraw from Fort Niagara. The new fort was completed in 1802 and became the headquarters for the British Army and the local militia. Fort George was captured by U.S. forces in May 1813 at the Battle of Fort George. The American Army used the fort as a base to invade Upper Canada, but were repelled at the Battles of Stoney Creek and Beaver Dams. The fort was retaken by the British Army in December of that year after U.S. forces abandoned the British side of the river."

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Fort George has a number of special events that are held throughout the year. Here is a description of the events as show on the Friends of Fort George website - "Friends of Fort George"
April - War of 1812 School of the Soldier
July - Canada Day Celebrations
July - Battle of Fort George
August - Fife & Drum Muster and Soldiers' Field Day
August - Echoes of Niagara Past: A Timeless Weekend
December - Holiday Celebration at Navy Hall

You can visit the Fort George website for current event information. (Link: http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/on/fortgeorge/index.aspx)

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