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Fort George National Historic Site in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, offers a fascinating and thought-provoking experience by allowing visitors to be immersed in a very important part of the history of Canada, the War of 1812.
During the war, the Niagara River was a vital water transportation route between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The Niagara frontier was the scene of many battles, including the ferocious Battle of Fort George, which saw the British attempt to defend against a much larger American force, supported by the U.S. navy. During the battle, in May 1813, Fort George was nearly destroyed by American cannon fire and was consequently captured days later. It was retaken in December of that same year by the British who went on to capture the American Fort Niagara in a daring night assault.
With the construction of Fort Mississauga in 1814 (now also a National Historic Site), Fort George was abandoned and allowed to fall into ruins soon after the war. Fort George, which is operated by Parks Canada Agency, was designated a National Historic Site in 1921. When restoration of the earthworks and buildings occurred in the late 1930s, Fort George had its rebirth.
Knowledgeable, costumed staff help bring the story of the fort and surrounding area to life with fascinating tales of real Canadian heroes, such as John Norton, Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, Laura Secord, and Richard Pierpoint. In support of these stories, mingling amongst the sounds of musket and cannon fire, are the pleasant tones of traditional fife and drum music. Dramatic tales of nation shaping events unfold within the walls of the fort.
Children can try the hands-on fun of becoming soldiers in the 41st Regiment by trying on soldiers' redcoats, and learning to march and do drill with wooden muskets.All visitors should stop in at the Fort George Gift Shop, which is operated by the Friends of Fort George. In addition to a vast array of collectibles, the shop offers a wonderful assortment of books for those interested in the history of the War of 1812 and the international Niagara frontier. The officers' kitchen, which is operational, offers samples of baked goods and sweets from the period.
Fort George is located on the west side of the mouth of the Niagara River beside the Niagara Parkway, just a ten-minute walk from the centre of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The fort is approximately a 20-minute drive from Niagara Falls, Ontario. It is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm. With its river breezes, beautiful scenery, and history of gallant heroes, Fort George exemplifies Niagara's romantic charm. Everyone can discover something unique while they enjoy themselves in an atmosphere that can be offered like none other than in Niagara.