Niagara-on-the-Lake Fort George - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Having spent a busy half day visiting Niagara-on-the-lake tourists could be excused for passing the entrance to Fort George en route to Niagara Falls, but those who do, miss a piece of US, British and Canadian history and a chance for a further few hours of entertainment.
Fort George played an important part in the war of 1812 and today Fort George is designated a national historic site and is part of the Parks Canada Programme.
The fort is just over a mile from Niagara-on-the-lake, a five minute drive or a brisk twenty minute walk for those who fancy the exercise! There is a fee to park so if you are up to the walk it will save a couple of dollars.
Before entering the fort you need to visit the payment hut, which also serves as a souvenir shop and bookshop. Entry prices to the fort (2016) $11. 70 (Canadian) with reductions for seniors and children. On payment of the entry fee every member of your party will receive ' the kings shilling' to be surrendered to the guard on the fort gate.
On entering the environs of the fort a series of buildings along the right hand side carry displays and information detailing the history of the area, its people and the war of 1812.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Britain was fighting the Napoleonic Wars with France. Tensions were also running high in North America, as expansionists sought to take advantage of the conflict in Europe - President Madison declared war on Gt. Britain in June 1812.
Niagara became a battleground for the British Army, local militia and their First Nation allies to make their stand. Indeed the river was essential for moving troops and supplies further West.
And so the scene was set and Fort George would become key to the control of the Niagara Peninsula.
Built by the order of Lt. Gov. Simcoe in 1796-99, Fort George saw many fierce engagements during the War of 1812. Serving as the headquarters of Maj. Gen. Brock in 1812, it was bombarded, captured and destroyed by the Americans. The following year it was refortified by the Americans only to be retaken by the British in December of that year.
The fort was later abandoned.
Reconstruction in 1937 -1940 reflects its history - earthworks and palisades, buildings and quarters, and the original stone powder magazine which still stands.
Opposite the fort, across the river, stands Fort Niagara in New York State and which you can see from the ramparts of Fort George.
Visiting the fort you are able to see and experience all of this history which is brought to life by redcoats of the 41st Infantry displaying drills and giving live displays involving firing of muskets, cannons and mortars. The guides providing the narrative to the displays do so both in English and in French if required. They are interesting and informative and welcome questions from visitors.
In addition to the 41st Infantry the 41st Fife and drums corp entertain visitors with marches and military music from the period.
Since 1984 enthusiasts from both the US and Canada have met to reenact the battles of over 200 years ago on special dates in the calendar.
On the opposite side of the fort the buildings house furniture and memorabilia from the period, some loaned from private collections and some from museums in the UK. Again, guides in costume are on hand to answer questions and impart information.
In a large room serving as a kitchen of 1812 cinnamon and ginger scones, as served to the soldiers, were being baked over an open fire and offered to visitors.
Take your time and browse - the exhibits and displays are really interesting and have a wealth of history not only of the battles of 1812 but the war and the period in general.
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