Sunday, July 04, 2021

Drums over historic Fort George

It's hard to believe that the U.S. and Canada were once at war and battles were fought on both sides of the border. In Niagara-on-the-Lake is the Fort George historic site, built in 1802, which became the headquarters of the British Army's Centre Division during the fighting of the War of 1812. The Americans did capture and hold the Fort for 7 months before being retaken by the British, leaving the fort in a little less than pristine condition. You can see photos from a large reenactment on my post here.
Loading the musket
And firing the Brown Bess

The fort was reconstructed in the the '30s (1930s that is) by the Niagara Parks Commission and opened in 1940 and run by Parks Canada from 1969 and in response to the whole covid thing they say, "Parks Canada is following the advice and guidance of public health experts and continues to make every effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. As a result, Fort George will operate at a reduced capacity and access will be limited. All heritage buildings remain closed at this time and all indoor programming has been moved outdoors. Guided tours will not be offered at this time. Ticket sales will be suspended once the site reaches maximum capacity." Fort George opened for the season on June 16, 2021.

Fife and drummers were very young in the British Army

Now you can see soldiers dressed in period uniforms fire their muskets and listen to music from the 41st fife and drum band as well as explore the grounds and talk to the tour guides. Hours are from noon till 5pm with ticket sales ending at 4:15pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Adult entry is $11.90 and parking is $5.90 per vehicle. In July and August you can see a demonstration (music or musket) every half hour, beginning at 12:30pm.

See more of the fort after the jump.

Members of the 41st Regiment put on musket firing demonstrations with a review of the long gun Brown Bess musket which was a standard weapon of the British from 1722 till 1838, finally replaced by a percussion cap smoothbore rifle. The The Brown Bess firing demonstration shows the soldiers prime the lock, drop the gun's butt to the ground and put the powder and ball into the barrel, then pull out the rammer and jam it down the barrel, seating the round at the bottom. The the weapon was brought up in a vertical position, cocked, then pointed at the enemy, fired. Soldiers had to be able to shoot at least 3 times per minute, standing in long rows, while under fire.
Musicians' uniforms were the opposite colour scheme to the regular soldiers. Instead of redcoats they wore white coats with accents of red.

The buildings on site include the Soldiers' Barracks, Officers' Quarters and Officers' Kitchen are available for view (you can only look through the doors during covid precautions). The restored, stone gunpowder magazine is the only original building left from the War of 1812 site.

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