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Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Exploring Photos with the NOTL Museum: Battle of Fort George, May 27, 1813

This watercolour depicts the War of 1812’s Battle of Fort George on May 27, 1813. It is a view toward the mouth of the Niagara River from Lake Ontario, with Fort Niagara to the left and the town of Niagara (today Niagara-on-the-Lake) on the right. After the capture of York, the capital of Upper Canada, in April 1813, many anticipated the next American assault to be on Fort George. By mid-May, there were reports of several ships gathering east of Fort Niagara. At daybreak on May 27, some 5,000 U.S. troops boarded 150 navy vessels and under the cover of fog, sailed toward the mouth of the Niagara River and the adjacent lake shore.  As the fog lifted, the U.S. opened fire with over 70 cannons. Having been taken by surprise, there was scarcely any return fire from the British. The invading U.S. troops forced their way through town and attacked Fort George. The British retreated to St. Davids, then on to Burlington Heights but were not pursued by the Americans. Left undefended, Fort George and the town of Niagara were occupied by American troops until December 1813.

Correction: There was some confusion over last week's Exploring Photos image of the village of Queenston. The circa 1903 photograph of Queenston looks south down Queenston Street. The South Landing Inn, on Front Street, is just left of centre in the far distance (not the buildings in the immediate distance). The large building to the far left is the former Noye Estate house, which burned down and was replaced by the home known as Greystone. Willowbank would be to the right, out of view.