June 13, 2012

Brother Jonathan declares war

On June 18, 1812, President Madison signed the war bill passed by Congress, officially declaring war against “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the dependencies thereof.” With war declared express riders raced to the Niagara to deliver the news. The war would destroy the relationship between people on both sides of the Niagara.

Officers dining at Fort George
Before the War of 1812, American and British officers often visited each other. American officers frequently visited the Canadian side of the Niagara to have dinner with their British counterparts at Fort George, and some even visited Newark’s (modern-day Niagara-on-the-Lake) numerous houses of ill repute. The declaration of war reached Fort George rather quickly and at the time American officers were dining with their British counterparts. Upon learning of the news, one can imagine the American officers fearing that they have now become the war’s first prisoners. However, the British officers insisted that this bad news should not interrupt a good meal. Upon completing their meal, the British officers led the Americans back to their boats as they crossed back to Fort Niagara.
The American declaration of war spread quickly through the Niagara devastating the bonds that connected Niagarans. The war’s declaration threw Niagara into the frontlines of a war that would see the destruction of farms, the burning of towns and hundreds of deaths.

From June 16 to 18 join us as we commemorate the declaration of war and celebrate the 200 years of peace that followed. Events will take place throughout the Niagara Region, including the appearance of Governor General David Johnston at Queenston Heights! In addition, Fort George will have the grand opening of its new museum and interactive experience. Also, don’t miss the premiere of the new Son et Lurniere Sound and Light Show, “Flames of War” on Monday, June 18th. For a full list of opening ceremonies activities, click here.

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