Sunday, June 28, 2015

Guns, Cannons and Kids: Visiting Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake

My husband and I are always looking for new and exciting things to do with our kids - especially during the summertime.
Quite often are days are planned using good old TRIP ADVISOR where we find things we may never have known existed! 
We recently camped in the Niagara region of Ontario and were looking for something to do with the kids on a sunny Saturday morning. The number one thing to do in the area (besides visiting the countless wineries!) was to hang out at  Historic Fort George. 

Our kids love historic places - especially ones with cannons and guns!

We paid our admission fee and were handed our farthings.  We needed to hand these to the gatekeeper who stood watch at the entry of the fort. 
When the soldier stepped out of the gate house, my family stepped in!!
Here is some historic information about the fort for those who are not up on their Canadian/British/American history:
During the War of 1812, Fort George served as the headquarters for the Centre Division of the British Army. These forces included British regulars, local militia, aboriginal warriors, and corps of freed slaves. Major General Sir Isaac Brock, "the saviour of Upper Canada" served here until his death at the Battle of Queenston Heights in October, 1812. Brock was  initially buried within the fort.
Basically- In 1812, Canada was still a British territory and the Americans REALLY wanted the valuable land here around the Great Lakes.  The biggest battles between the British and American forces took place during this time. 

Fort George is named after the King of England at the time - King George III (1738-1820) hence why his initials decorate the fort and all of its equipment. 

George Rex
The fort is located in some of the most expensive real estate here in Ontario.  We had a good chuckle when we saw this cannon pointing out of the fort and right at a multi-million dollar home!
During the 1800s, British soldiers wore bright red so that they could be seen through all of the smoke that muskets and other guns created during a battle. 
In the working kitchen, we learned how "Darbyshire Cakes" are made and about all the exotic foods the army officers ate.  Because this is Canada, the British officers tried moose, black bear and even raccoon meat. 
This is a "Firkin," the fridge of the 1800s.  It was used to keep liquids, butter or fish cold. 

Inside the head officer's home, we saw that even though a war was going on, the high-born leaders of the British army still lived as well as they would have if they were back in England.  Fine china, crystal glasses and imported specialty foods (like coconuts and pineapple) were part of the daily routine. 

This was the lower officers' "mess hall."  Many men ate together but they ate and drank well!
My oldest son was the first to notice the "gun d├ęcor" in the officers' hall.  He told me he thought it was "a bit violent" but "still really cool!"

This man was dressed to represent a low-born Militia soldier who was likely Canadian-born and had to supply his own gun and equipment .

This soldier represented mid-level British soldier whose family could afford to clothe and equip him in the full army uniform and could purchase him the latest in rifle and musket technology. 
He gave a fabulous and often hilarious lesson on how guns of the time worked - or sometimes didn't work, in battle.  At the end, Bryn was very eager to get close to this soldier's gun and to ask a few questions about the war. 
 He admitted after that he though this fort was one of the coolest places he had ever visited. 
Whew! It's not always easy to please a nearly 11-year-old boy!

Another week begins tomorrow and it is the first official day of summer here in our home!  We have planned as little as possible - reading, puzzles and a trip to the library.
Sounds perfect to me!
Have a wonderful week!


  1. It's always nice discovering new places, especially when they are so close to home.
    Looks like a great day out, the kids (Kev included) looks as though they enjoyed ot too :) x x x x

  2. What a fantastic and interesting place to visit. It looks and sounds as though you had a really great time. I like the canon pointing at the house, I imagine they are very glad that it is only a very old canon pointing their way!! xx


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