Many sites across southern Ontario carry memories of the War of 1812, the military conflict between the independent United States and British forces in Canada. Great care has been taken to preserve various historically significant sites as part of the region’s heritage, and Fort George is perhaps the foremost of these locations.
Located on the eastern edge of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fort George was the headquarters for the Centre Division of the British Army in Ontario from 1802 until 1813, when it was captured by US forces. The occupying US army and navy attempted to use the base as a point of origin for an invasion of Upper Canada, and further progress was halted and the British Army reclaimed Fort George by the end of 1813. After the War of 1812, it would be kept as a military installation until 1965.
The modern Fort George encapsulates two centuries of Canadian and British history in the region. Many of the buildings were replaced after the War of 1812, and it still stands as a fantastic example of mid-19th century military architecture. And one original structure, the powder magazine, still stands and is the oldest military building in Ontario.
The fort is open to visitors every weekend throughout the year, and is open daily between May and October. Attendants dressed in military attire ‘patrol’ the fort and provide thorough guided tours of the buildings and fort grounds. Special exhibits throughout the fort provide a little extra background on the history of the region and the War of 1812, and attendants less interested in reading can catch the musket firing and music demonstrations regularly on offer. And arranging a visit through Ghost Tours of Niagara means an after-hours ghost tour that ranks among the best Niagara has to offer.
As one of the region’s most historically significant structures and a centrepiece of Niagara heritage, Fort George is worth visiting – the interesting stories, rare artefacts and engaging re-enactments are make it a fun and educational experience.
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