In this day and age where we are encouraged to buy local for the freshest foods and to support our community’s businesses there is no better way to get a taste of the places you visit in your travels than by going to their markets. The St. Lawrence Market in Old Town Toronto is the centerpiece of this thriving historic neighborhood and invites you to savor its current offerings too. Read More »
Summer at Niagara Falls is steamy hot. And very crowded with tourists. But just being near the falls is like walking through a big water mister – very refreshing. For the ultimate cool down though, you need to take a ride on the Maid of the Mist. Read More »
Wherever we travel, we always seek out historical sites to get a sense of the roots of the region we’re visiting. So while visiting Niagara-On-The-Lake in Ontario, Canada we stopped by Fort George on our way out of town. After visiting countless forts throughout the U.S. it was a bit odd to step into the past and see the perspective from the enemy’s shoes.
Fort George was a critical location in the War of 1812 between the British army defending their Niagara frontier in Canada and the Americans positioned across the narrow Niagara River at Fort Niagara near the river’s mouth, which was a vital route for supplies. Standing inside the fort, looking a short distance across the river to Fort Niagara, you can sense just how tense those times must have been leading up to battle. The fort was eventually taken by American forces in 1813, who fixed it up and then later abandoned it, burning the town down before they left. Thankfully they don’t harbor any ill will towards American tourists these days. Because if they did, we’d be flogged on the Punishment Triangle outside the Guard House.
The buildings inside the fort aren’t anything fancy to look at. They were built to be forts within the fort – the place of last defense in the event of a breech. And the lower ranked soldiers’ barracks were quite plain, designed with function and practicality in mind. A soldier’s family was allowed to come along in certain scenarios and therefore these Blockhouses could get pretty cramped.
This was not the case for the officers’ quarters. Their rooms were decorated extravagantly with furnishing from abroad, just as if they were at home. Their mess hall served fancy meals on fancy china. And from the sampling of the food they were passing out in the mammoth kitchen building, it was pretty tasty too.
The only original building to survive the war and later disrepair that took over the neglected fort is the Powder Magazine which stored all of the gunpowder. Contrary to the hot kitchen, this building was quite cool. The construction of entirely non-flammable materials (stone and copper) was effective engineering that has lasted over 200 years. Just outside of the Powder Magazine you can walk through an underground tunnel to a lookout tower outside the perimeter of the fort which is a fun adventure and provides a nice view after climbing to the top.
Guides dressed in 1812 uniforms explain and perform fife & drum pieces, answer questions throughout the buildings and give musket demonstrations. The soldier giving our demonstration gave a very entertaining history of warfare technology at the time and explained that British soldiers wore those bright red uniforms so they could see each other through all the gun smoke and not accidentally shoot each other in close range. Musket fire from longer range wasn’t accurate at all, making the threat from enemy fire less problematic. Not to mention all the time it took to clean, load, fire and re-load. But it looked cool when he fired and provided the entertainment we were looking for.
The self-guided tour interspersed with scheduled demonstrations makes a visit easy to maneuver and fit your timeframe and pace. There is a lot of room for kids to run around, prisoner cells to try out, food to taste, period tools to examine and soldiers to talk to. And of course, living history to experience – which is the best way to learn such things when on vacation.
- COST = Adults: $11.70, Seniors: $10.05, Youth: $5.80, Family Rate: $29.40. Parking is $5.90 and is deducted from the price of admission upon purchase of tickets. All prices in Canadian Dollars.
- DURATION = Allow 1 1/2 hours to visit all fort buildings and see demonstrations.
- HOURS = 10AM – 5PM daily, April 1st thru October 31st.
- ENVIRONMENT = Not all areas are handicap accessible. Great for kids and adults. History buffs will find more to enjoy than casual tourists but it is not heavy on plaques – more visual artifact displays and demonstrations
- ACCESSIBILITY = By car about 10 miles from Niagara Falls – parking on site reimbursed upon Fort admission. By foot just oustide of town in Niagara-On-The-Lake.
- WEBSITE = http://www.pc.gc.ca/fortgeorge
- FUN FACTS = Fort George was eventually abandoned by the British for the more strategically placed Fort Mississauga up the road at the river’s mouth. That fort is now an unused landmark in the middle of a golf course while Fort George lives on, recreating the past.
By Molly G. @ The Bumbles Blog
All photos credited to Molly G. @The Bumbles Blog
When my husband and I decided to plan a side trip to Victoria, British Columbia as part of a business trip to Seattle, we explored all of our travel options. In early spring, many of the public ferries and catamarans do not run. Our choices were to fly or take the Victoria Clipper, a high speed catamaran from Seattle Harbor.
We opted for the Victoria Clipper because it was a little more affordable, and I’m glad we did. The three hour trip was very relaxing. As a mom, I rarely have time to read a good book, or just sit and take in the view. A three hour boat ride felt like the height of luxury. The seats are reasonably comfortable, and you can walk about the cabin. If you decide to go out on deck it can be chilly, so bring a windbreaker or warm coat.