LOYALISTS settled in the area in 1784, followed by German immigrants, but Fort Erie, first as a French trading post and then as a British fort, has guarded this strategic point since 1764. The village near the British fort of the same name amalgamated with the town of Bridgeburg, a railway centre, and became the town of Fort Erie in 1931. Two early forts were destroyed by ice from Lake Erie and the powerful Niagara River, and a third was partly destroyed by American soldiers in 1814 - the last foreign troops to occupy Canadian soil. Restored between 1937 and 1939, the forest and grounds are now managed by the Niagara Parks Commission.
The town hosts with Buffalo, NY, the Friendship Festival, which together with the Peace Bridge and Mather Arch and Park celebrates the decades of peace and friendship that have existed between Canada and the US. The International Bridge (1873), built by the GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY and the first to cross the river at this point, was followed by the Peace Bridge (1927), which soars across the river to make the town one of the busiest border crossings between Canada and the US. Since the inception of NAFTA (1994), a severely congested Peace Bridge has resulted in acrimonious discussions on whether to duplicate the present bridge or replace it with a "signature" bridge of outstanding and innovative design. The frictions are not only between Canada and the US but also over whether the bridge continues to remain in the public sector.
Fort Erie has one of North America's oldest and most attractive horse racetracks. The town also includes summer cottages and residential-recreational communities along LAKE ERIE, notably Crystal Beach and the inland communities of Ridgeway and Stevensville. The BATTLE OF RIDGEWAY is depicted at the Ridgeway Battlefield Museum. The town is the south entrance for the Niagara River Recreational Trail and the Niagara River Parkway, and is the terminus of the QUEEN ELIZABETH WAY from Toronto.
Author JOHN N. JACKSON Revised: H.J. GAYLER
Fort Erie Museum Board, Many Voices: A Collective History of Greater Fort Erie (1996); Cathy A. Herbert and John Burtniak, Scenes of Greater Fort Erie: Selections from the Greater Fort Erie Historical Calendars, 1985-1989 (1989).
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
The official website for the Town of Fort Erie, Ontario. Click on "Discover Fort Erie" for information about local attractions.
Old Fort Erie
This site offers a virtual tour of Old Fort Erie and a brief history of the military engagements that occurred at this location. From the Niagara Parks Commission.
The Underground Railroad
Follow the flight to freedom along the Underground Railroad to Canada. This Canada’s Digital Collections web site focuses on St. Catharines and other locations in the Niagara Region. Also profiles noteworthy individuals such as Harriet Tubman. Wind your way through mazes and other fun games.
Sir Gordon Drummond
This biography of Sir Gordon Drummond, president of the government and commander of the troops in Upper Canada, chronicles some of the key military actions that influenced the outcome of the War of 1812. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
A contemporary photograph of a section of Fort Erie that deterred a British assault during the War of 1812. From the War of 1812 Magazine.
Niagara Parks: Commemorative Plaques & Markers
See the text of individual plaques and markers commemorating the War of 1812 found throughout the grounds of Niagara Parks in Ontario. Also, check this site for more information about specific park locations and events.