Old Fort Erie
The Ghost Adventures crew uncovers the gruesome stories of lives lost
during the War of 1812 at Old Fort Erie.
They explore this deeply
haunted location in the hopes of making contact with men who made the
ultimate sacrifice there.
Fort Erie was the first British fort to
be constructed as part of a network developed after the Seven Years'
War (or in the United States the French and Indian War) was concluded by
the Treaty of Paris (1763) at which time all of New France had been
ceded to Great Britain.
It is located on the southern edge of the Town of Fort Erie, Ontario, directly across the Niagara River from Buffalo, New York.
British established control by occupying the French forts and by
constructing a line of communications along the Niagara River and Upper
The original fort, built in 1764, was located on
the Niagara River's edge below the present fort. For the following 50
years, Fort Erie served as a supply depot and a port for ships
transporting merchandise, troops and passengers via Lake Erie to the
Upper Great Lakes.
The fort first saw action as a supply base for
British troops, Loyalist Rangers and Iroquois Warriors during the
American Revolution. The little fort at the water's edge suffered
considerable damage due to continuous winter storms.
planning was authorized for a new Fort Erie on the heights behind the
original post. The new fort was made more formidable being constructed
of the Onondaga Flintstone that was readily available in the area.
new fort was unfinished when the United States declared war on June 18,
1812. Part of the garrison of Fort Erie fought at the Battle of
Frenchman's Creek against an American attack in November 1812.
1813, Fort Erie was held for a period by U.S. forces and then abandoned
on June 9, 1813. The fort had been partially dismantled by the small
garrison of British troops and Canadian militia as they withdrew.
British reoccupation followed American withdrawal from the area in
The British attempted to rebuild the fort. On
July 3, 1814 another American force landed nearby and again captured
Fort Erie. The U.S. Army used the fort as a supply base and expanded its
size. At the end of July, after the Battles of Chippewa and Lundy's
Lane, the American army withdrew to Fort Erie and were besieged by the
In the early hours of August 15, 1814, the British
launched a four-pronged attack against the fortifications. A
well-prepared American defence and an explosion in the North East
Bastion destroyed the British chance for success with the loss of over
1,000 of their men.
An American sortie on September 17 captured
two of the British batteries and the American troops were able to spike
the guns in one of them before being driven back to the fort. Shortly
afterward, the British lifted the siege and retired to positions to the
north at Chippawa.
After an unsuccessful American attack at
Cook's Mills, west of Chippawa, news reached the American forces that
the eastern seaboard of the U.S. was under attack.
November 5, 1814, with winter approaching, the Americans destroyed the
fort and withdrew to Buffalo. Fort Erie is the site of the bloodiest
battlefield in the history of Canada.
The Treaty of Ghent was
signed December 24, 1814, ending the War of 1812. Fearing further
American attacks, the British continued to occupy the ruined fort until
Ghost Adventures team captured some sort of shadow figure which looks
to be an arm and a hand during the investigation at Old Fort Erie.
Some of the stones from the fort were then incorporated
into the construction of St. Paul's Anglican Church, which stands today
on the Niagara Parkway 3 km (2 miles) north of the fort.
The town of Fort Erie began to grow north of the fortifications when a rail terminus and station were constructed.
Fort Erie area became significant as the major terminus in Canada for
slaves using the Underground Railroad in the middle of the 19th century,
many of whom crossed into Canada from Buffalo, New York.
1866, a brigade of Fenians (Irish Republicans) used the ruins of the old
fort as a base for their raid into Ontario. The Fenian Brotherhood
invaded Canada on June 1, 1866 with more than 500 American Civil War
veterans by crossing the Niagara River a little north of Fort Erie.
first order of business was to occupy the town of Fort Erie and demand
food and equipment from the local population. The invaders offered
Fenian bonds as payment but were refused by the townsfolk.
Fenians then marched north to try and capture the town of Chippewa at
the north end of the Welland Canal. Before reaching their goal, and
discovering a British and Canadian force had reached the town before
them they turned to face a weak Canadian militia brigade that was
approaching Fort Erie from the west, routing it at the Battle of
Fenians returned to Fort Erie where they defeated a second small force
of local Canadian militia, including a naval detachment from Dunnville.
Unable to get reinforcements across the river and concerned over the
approach of a large number of Canadian Militia and British regulars, the
Fenians retreated from Fort Erie for Buffalo.
the same time visitors to the ruins included the Prince of Wales and
Mark Twain. As the 20th century approached, the Old Fort was used as a
park and picnic area by local families.
reconstruction of the fort was started in 1937. The reconstruction was
jointly sponsored by the Provincial and Federal governments and the
Niagara Parks Commission. The fort was restored to the 1812-1814 period
and officially reopened on July 1, 1939.
the restoration, a mass grave of 150 British and 3 American soldiers
was uncovered and currently lies beneath a monument which was originally
erected in the fort's ruins in 1904. The fort and surrounding
battlefield are owned and operated by the Niagara Parks Commission, a
self-funded agency of the Ontario Provincial Government.
Parkway starts at Fort Erie and continues 56 km (35 miles) north to
Lake Ontario. Sir Winston Churchill was quoted saying that the parkway
was "the prettiest Sunday drive in the world." Each year, during the
second weekend of August, hundreds of historical re-enactment
enthusiasts come together to reenact the siege of Fort Erie.