The Niagara Region still carries a physical memory of the War of 1812. Between the forts that still stand and the monuments that have arisen to mark the fallen and the exceptional persons of the time, various corners of southern Ontario continue to mark this point of history.
Brock’s Monument is a tall stone tower built to mark the life and death of Major General Sir Issac Brock, the British army officer often marked as the ‘Hero of Upper Canada’ (then the moniker for present-day Ontario).
A quick recap on Brock himself: he was a commanding officer who was noted for his effective management of troops in both Lower Canada (now southern Quebec) and Upper Canada, quelling mutinies and working to keep the peace in the British Army regiments. When war broke out between Canada and the United States in 1812, Brock responded quickly and his capture of Detroit is one of the war’s defining moments. Brock would be shot and killed in late 1812 during the Battle of Queenstown Heights.
The monument itself has had a history almost as dramatic. The original monument was erected in 1824, over the graves of Brock and his lieutenant. This edifice would be severely damaged in an explosion set by supporters of the Mackenzie Rebellion around 1840. It would take nearly twenty years for a new monument to replace the old, the current 56-metre tower completed in 1856.
Even this new tower hasn’t escaped damage over its 150-year lifespan. Famously, in 1929 the statue of Brock on the top of the tower lost its arm during a heavy storm. Some of the fragments that fell from the tower are still kept on display. Major refurbishment in recent years means the tower is currently in the best condition in decades.
The monument currently stands within Queenston Heights Park, overlooking the Niagara Parkway. The crypt containing the remains of Brock and his aide de camp still lies underneath the tower’s limestone walls. Historical walking trails and detailed plaques turn the visit into an educational experience. But however much visitors might be interested in the War of 1812 and Brock’s contribution to Canada’s history, the monument itself still serves as a masterful example of 19th century architecture and an impressive sight to see.
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