Government of Canada Commemorates the Battle of Fort George

Bicentennial anniversary of a pivotal battle in the War of 1812

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ON, May 25, 2013 /CNW/ - On behalf of the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., Member of Parliament for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, launched the historical re-enactment of the Battle of Fort George. The re-enactment commemorates an epic battle honouring those whose lives were lost in battle over 200 years ago.

"The Battle of Fort George was a significant event for the families living in Niagara Township during the War of 1812," said Minister Nicholson. "On this day two hundred years ago, British Regulars and the men of the Lincoln Militia fought one of the grimmest and bloodiest battle of their lives in order to stall an overwhelming enemy force. Their sacrifice on that day was key in stemming the American invasion, and set up events that would allow British and Canadian forces to cross the Niagara River and capture Fort Niagara in December of 1813."

Parks Canada hosted thousands of Canadians to witness hundreds of re-enactors taking part in the re-enactment performance of the Battle of Fort George. The re-enactment commemorates a pivotal battle in the Niagara region during the War of 1812. U.S. forces used the fort as a base to invade the rest of Upper Canada and after a seven month occupation, the fort was recaptured in December of 1813 and remained in British hands for the remainder of the war. The defending force included British regulars from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles which included Scots, English and French Canadians as well as some Canadians of African heritage; the Royal Newfoundland Fencibles, and First Nations allies from the Grand River.

"The Battle of Fort George marks a time in our history when a culturally diverse assembly of people forged ahead with a unified purpose," said Minister Kent. "Recognizing their efforts forms part of an on-going commitment of the Government of Canada to commemorate key events that helped define Canadian history and shape the country we cherish today."

Parks Canada works to ensure Canada's historic and natural heritage is protected and, through a network of 44 national parks, 167 national historic sites, and four national marine conservation areas, invites Canadians and people from around the world to engage in personal moments of inspiring discovery at our treasured natural and historic places.

For more information on the Battle of Fort George, please visit www.parkscanada.gc.ca.

Backgrounder

Fort George National Historic Site:
Battle of Fort George
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario 

Through the commemorations of the War of 1812, Parks Canada hopes to create for all Canadians a heightened sense of connection and pride to their national treasures, and in particular to our national historic sites as vibrant centres of community life and engaging history. 

During the War of 1812, Fort George served as the headquarters for the Centre Division of the British Army. It was also the headquarters of the British Indian Department in Upper Canada. The British Indian Department was responsible for forging alliances with First Nations, without whom, Upper Canada could not be successfully defended. The fort was also a rallying point for the Militia of Lincoln County, including a company of African-Canadian volunteers, mustered as "the Coloured Corps." Major General Sir Isaac Brock, commander in chief of British forces in Upper Canada and head of the civil government of the province, had his headquarters there until his death at the Battle of Queenston Heights in October 1812.

The Battle of Fort George, which took place from May 25th to 27th, 1813, constituted some of the fiercest fighting during the War of 1812, as British and Canadian forces and their Mohawk allies unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the American forces from landing on the shore of Lake Ontario, a few kilometres from Fort George. The American victory at the Battle of Fort George permitted them to gain a bridgehead on the Niagara Peninsula, which they planned to use as a base for the conquest of Upper Canada. Following the battle, the British army retreated to Burlington Heights in present day Hamilton, Ontario. The Americans followed, with plans to finally annihilate the British forces. However, the British ambushed them at Stoney Creek and forced them back to Fort George. The British soon followed and with their First Nations allies laid a siege of Fort George. American attempts to lift the siege by attacking a British supply depot near present day Thorold, Ontario, led to the defeat of an American force at the Battle of Beaver Dams on June 24th, 1813. The Americans had been ambushed by First Nations warriors from the Grand River and from the Seven Nations of Canada from western Lower Canada and eastern Upper Canada. For the next six months the Americans were kept confined to Fort George and could not use it to further their conquest. Finally, on December 10, 1813 they retreated back to the United States, burning the town of Niagara, now Niagara-on-the-Lake, as they left.

After the war, the main site of the Battle of Fort George reverted to farmland until 1910 when the Dominion Government purchased the land to use for a rifle range and training ground for militiamen training at Camp Niagara on the Fort George Commons. The land served this function until 1995.

After World War I and during the Great Depression of the 1930's, the battlefield remained in use as a training area and rifle range while Fort George, a few kilometres away, was reconstructed as a National Historic Site.

The commemorations taking place at Fort George National Historic Site on May 25th, 26th and 27th, 2013 include:

May 25th, 2013 "The Battle of Fort George Re-enactment" Part 1

  • Over 500 re-enactors including both Infantry and Artillery will re-enact the first stage (The Landing) of the Battle of Fort George
  • Specialized demonstrations on Fort George and the War of 1812 will resume hourly including Station Presentations, Musket Demonstrations, Music Demonstrations and Artillery Demonstrations
  • Evening program includes a Fife and Drum Corps Presentation followed by an artillery, pyrotechnic and musical sound and light show.

May 26th, 2013: "The Battle of Fort George Re-enactment" Part 2

  • Over 500 re-enactors including both Infantry and Artillery will re-enact the first stage (The Landing) of the Battle of Fort George. The Battle will take place on the commons outside the imposing walls of Fort George
  • Specialized demonstrations on Fort George and the War of 1812 will be occurring hourly including Station Presentations, Musket Demonstrations, Music Demonstrations and Artillery Demonstrations

May 27th, 2013: 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort George memorial ceremony and plaque unveiling. 

SOURCE: Parks Canada

For further information:

General Inquiries:
Jarred Picher
Fort George National Historic Site
(905) 468-0833

Media Contact:
Theresa Paris
Parks Canada Communications Officer
905-526-1263
www.twitter.com/parkscanada


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