Last updated: March 12, 2015
- Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
- Centre Division of the British Army Headquarters
- National Historic Site
- OPEN TO PUBLIC:
Fort Niagara, situated on the eastern bank of the Niagara River in Youngstown New York, was handed over to the United States under the terms of Jay’s Treaty of 1794. Construction of a new fort across the river began soon after. By 1802, Fort George had been completed. The fort was essential in protecting supply lines to Upper Canada.
The installation included six earthen and log bastions linked by a wooden palisade and surrounded by a dry ditch. Inside stood a guardhouse, log blockhouses, a hospital, kitchens, workshops, barracks, an officers' quarters, and a stone powder magazine.
The Fort was headquarters for the Centre Division of the British Army during the War of 1812. British regulars, local militia, aboriginal warriors, and Runchey's corps of freed slaves served there. A prime target for American assault, Fort George was attacked on May 25, 1813 and again two days later. By May 27 the fort was largely destroyed by U.S. artillery and British troops found themselves outnumbered five to one. The U.S. captured the fort and used it as a base to invade the rest of Upper Canada. After seven months and the American defeats at Stoney Creek and Beaver Dams, the fort was retaken in December of the same year. The American forces burned the fort and much of the Town of Niagara in their retreat. By the 1820's it was falling into ruins. It was abandoned for the strategic installation at Fort Mississauga and a more protected one at Butler's Barracks.
The site was used over the years for agriculture, as part of a golf course and by the Canadian Military as a hospital for Camp Niagara. During the 1930's, the original plans of the Royal Engineers guided the reconstruction of Fort George as a National Historic Site. The original magazine still survives.