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Battle of Fort George A paper read on March 14th, 1896   By: (1853-1939)

Book cover

First Page:

"Ducit Amor Patriae"

TRANSACTION NO. 1

Niagara Historical Society.

BATTLE OF FORT GEORGE

A PAPER READ ON MARCH 14TH, 1896, BY

ERNEST CRUIKSHANK

CAPT. 44TH BATTALION.

NIAGARA: PICKWELL BROS., BOOK AND JOB PRINTERS. 1896.

PREFACE.

The reproach has frequently been cast upon us that Canada has no history; it might be said of us with far more justice that we do not know our own history. The various historical societies are, by their efforts, trying to wipe away this reproach, and we feel proud of following in the wake of the Lundy's Lane Historical Society in publishing a paper written by Capt. Cruikshank, who has well earned the title of the historian of the Niagara peninsula.

Of the towns of Ontario not one we are sure possesses a history so eventful, so ancient, so interesting as Niagara, having been at different times a legislative, an educational, a military and a commercial centre, at one time occupied by the enemy and again a heap of smoking ruins, now a quiet summer resort with many points of historical interest, with wide streets shaded by old elms and having unrivalled lake and river scenery. The members of the youngest of these Historical Societies feel that they may congratulate themselves on being able to place in the hands of the public the story which so far has not yet been told of the Taking of Fort George, told too in a style so clear, so dispassionate, and shewing such deep research, a story of troublesome times, which so told can not but be helpful to old and young of every nationality.

Asking for our first venture a kind reception we send it out to the public, hoping that it may do its part in proving that we have a not ignoble history which should inspire us to yet nobler deeds.

BATTLE OF FORT GEORGE.

27TH MAY, 1813.

For about a quarter of a century Niagara was the principal town and commercial capital of Western Canada, and for a brief period was actually the seat of government for the Upper Province. The removal of the provincial officers to York in 1796 struck the first blow at its supremacy, but its material prosperity continued until the beginning of the war with the United States when its exposed situation subjected it to a series of calamities which culminated in its total destruction on the 10th of December, 1813.

During that time many travellers of more or less note visited the place at short intervals on their way to or from the Falls, and a considerable number of them have recorded their observations. Patrick Campbell in 1791, D'Arcy Bolton in 1794, the Duke de Rochefoucauld Liancourt in 1795, Isaac Weld and J. C. Ogden in 1796, John Maude in 1800, George Heriot in 1806, Christian Schultz in 1807, John Melish in 1810 and Michael Smith in 1812 have described the town and adjacent country at considerable length from various points of view. Other accounts are to be found in the National Intelligencer newspaper published at Washington, D. C., in 1812, and in Smith's Gazetteer of Upper Canada for 1813. From these numerous sources it would seem an easy task to form a fairly correct estimate of the appearance of the town, its commercial importance and the character of the inhabitants.

[Illustration: THE TAKING OF FORT GEORGE.]

It is described as being nearly a mile square, sparsely built, with many pasture fields, gardens, orchards and open spaces interspersed among the houses. Smith, an American resident of the province now was expelled in 1812 for having declined to take oath of allegiance, states that there were "several squares of ground in the village adorned with almost every kind of precious fruit." According to the same authority it contained two churches one of them built of stone, a court house and jail, an Indian council house, an academy in which Latin and Greek were taught by the Rev. John Burns a Presbyterian minister, a printing house, six taverns, twenty stores and about a hundred dwelling houses, many of them described as "handsome buildings of brick or stone, the rest being of wood, neatly painted... Continue reading book >>




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