Fort Niagara – Youngstown, N.Y.
The French established Fort Niagara in the late seventeenth century at the mouth of the Niagara River. For almost two centuries, it was considered one of the most strategically important military posts in North America.
Today, the fort presents that long history to the public focusing mainly on the period from the American Revolution through the Civil War, when the fort was at its strategic height. Fort Niagara features historical interpreters dressed in period clothing, a working blacksmith shop, cannon and musket demonstrations, a flag raising ceremony and interactive exhibits.
For more information about Fort Niagara, visit: http://oldfortniagara.org/
Fort George – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Fort George sits directly across the Niagara River from Fort Niagara. During the War of 1812, the two forts exchanged fire many times and the British used Fort George as a staging point to launch an attack to capture Fort Niagara.
Fort George provides guests with period reenactments and modern museum exhibits. The fort offers guests the opportunity to see a period meal prepared in their fully functioning kitchen, witness gun crews at work during their cannon firings and hear period military music from their fife and drum corps. In addition, one of the Fort George’s blockhouses has been converted into a modern museum that displays artifacts and information from throughout the fort’s history.
For more information about Fort George, visit: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/on/fortgeorge/index.aspx
Erie Maritime Museum – Erie, Pa.
The Erie Maritime Museum showcases the history of Lake Erie from the War of 1812 through modern times. The museum focuses on the War of 1812 and displays artifacts from the period. The centerpiece of the museum is the reconstructed Flagship Niagara.
The Niagara was the ship that won the Battle of Lake Erie, one of America’s earliest victories in the War of 1812. Today, the 300 ton reconstructed vessel is docked at the Erie Maritime Museum for visitors to explore. Groups can also reserve the ship to take out to sail on Lake Erie and experience first-hand what life was like for a sailor during the War of 1812.
For more information about the Erie Maritime Museum, visit: http://www.eriemaritimemuseum.org/
Queenston Heights Battlefield – Queenston, Ontario
The Battle of Queenston Heights was one of the first major battles of the War of 1812. The combined forces of British regulars, Canadian militia and Native warriors threw back the attempted American invasion of Canada.
Visitors to the site can take a self-guided walking tour of the battlefield or a guided tour with an interpreter dressed in period attire. The tour highlights some of the key locations of the battle and allows visitors to experience ebb and flow of the fighting. The site also includes Brock’s Monument, which is dedicated to British General Sir Isaac Brock. Visitors can climb to the top of the monument for a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield.
Not far from the Queenston Heights battlefield is the Laura Secord Homestead. The homestead is the actual house lived in by Laura and her family and presents the civilian side of the War of 1812.
For more information about the Queenston Heights Battlefield, visit: http://www.friendsoffortgeorge.ca/bm.htm
For more information about the Laura Secord Homestead, visit: http://www.niagaraparks.com/heritage-trail/laura-secord-homestead.html
Lundy’s Lane Battlefield – Niagara Falls, Ontario
The Battle of Lundy’s Lane was one of the bloodiest battles of the War of 1812. Fought mostly at night, troops on both sides had difficulty telling friendly positions from enemy and in the confusion sometimes fired on their own men. The battle is considered a draw with both the British and the American forces suffering heavy losses.
Today, most of where the battle was fought has been swallowed by downtown Niagara Falls. The newly renovated Niagara Falls History Museum presents the history of Niagara Falls up to present day, but the heart of the collection is the War of 1812 gallery. The gallery features artifacts discovered in Niagara Falls and Lundy’s Lane.
Just a few blocks from the Niagara Falls History Museum is Drummond Hill Cemetery. The cemetery was the location of the British cannons during the Battle of Lundy’s Lane and was the scene of some of the most intense fighting of the battle. There is a monument to the battle itself as well as monuments to the British and American troops who died during the fighting.
For more information about the Niagara Falls History Museum, visit: http://www.niagarafallshistorymuseum.ca/index.php/museums/niagara-falls-history-museum/
For more information about Drummond Hill Cemetery, visit: http://www.niagarafalls.ca/city-hall/municipal-works/cemetery/locations-and-histories/drummond-hill.aspx
Fort Erie – Fort Erie, Ontario
Established in 1764 just across Lake Erie from Buffalo, Fort Erie was of great strategic importance during the War of 1812. The fort saw heavy fighting and changed hands many times during the war; the largest and most famous battle was the Siege of Fort Erie.
Fort Erie provides visitors with a glimpse of what a prolonged siege would have been like in the 1800s. The fort’s buildings and curtain walls have been restored and outside the walls guests can walk through the siege lines that would have been used by the British during the Siege of Fort Erie. The fort also has a new visitor’s center and museum that displays artifacts from the fort and tells the personal stories of the soldiers who fought during the siege. The fort also has one of the longest running Native interpretive programs of any War of 1812 historic site in the region.
For more information about Fort Erie, visit: http://www.niagaraparks.com/old-fort-erie/
Fort York – Toronto, Ontario
Fort York was built in 1793 in the village of York, which would eventually grow into the city of Toronto. When the Americans took the Fort in 1813, they burned much of the village of York including the buildings housing the Upper Canadian legislative assembly. These acts of destruction lead to the burning of Buffalo and Washington D.C. by the British the following year.
Fort York was reconstructed in 1814 and many of those building still stand today. The fort sits in downtown Toronto and provides visitors with a link to the city’s earliest beginnings. Interpreters in period dress escort visitors around the fort’s many buildings and displays and provide demonstrations such as musket firings and period military drill.
For more information about Fort York, visit: http://www.toronto.ca/culture/museums/fort-york.htm
Funding for 1812 on the Niagara Frontier was provided by The Wilson Foundation, Warren and Barbara Goldring and Phil Lind.