Siege of Fort Erie
by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Jim Hill
There is a group of people in this province who travel from historic site to historic site re-living the years of 1812 to 1814. Their largest annual gathering starts on the weekend following the August Civic Holiday (or in some communities Simcoe Day). The forces descend upon Old Fort Erie in the town of Fort Erie on the Niagara River and Lake Erie shorelines. They surround the little fort with tents, campfires, cannons and even items for sale. For two days they commemorate and recreate the battles fought in Niagara in 1814, culminating in the worst fighting in Canada – The Siege of Fort Erie. The big battle of the weekend is always Saturday night.
Storming the Fort...
For the past 25 years, the British, Canadian and Native troops storm the fort and just as they gain a foothold on the bastions of Fort Erie, a gun powder magazine detonates. Fort Erie may be the only historic site in the world that blows itself up every year. The battle is followed by a candle lit tour of the damaged and smoking fortifications. On Sunday, a much more serious memorial service is held over the mass grave of 150 men killed in the explosion; only a fraction of the almost 3000 killed or wounded in the siege of 1814. This is followed by a reenactment of the ‘American Sortie’, one of the biggest battles of the war and it doesn’t even have a place name. The Siege of Fort Erie weekend ends with a gathering of all the forces in the fort. The Stars and Stripes come down and the Union Jack is run up.
Keeping the Memory Alive!
The re-enacting community has invested thousands of hours and dollars to keep the memory of those days alive. They have provided an invaluable service to the history of Canada and the United States. The Siege of Fort Erie will happen again next year on August 6th and 7th and check out www.oldforterie.com for more information.
Photos courtesy of
The First Kentucky Rifle Regiment Reenactment Unit