Fort George is an historic military structure at Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario in Canada. The fort was built by the British Army between 1796 and 1799 following the Jay Treaty. Designed by Alexander Hamilton and supported by President George Washington the Jay Treaty was negotiated by American statesman and Diplomat, John Jay. Brokered between the United States and Great Britain, the Jay Treaty was created to avoid war and resolve issues that remained following the Treaty of Paris in 1783 which ended the American Revolutionary War. As part of the Jay Treaty the British Troops withdrew from Fort Niagara which stands opposite in New York and is visible from the Fort George ramparts. The newly constructed Fort George became the western most of British fortified posts and served as the regional headquarters for both the British Army and the Canadian Militia.
Fort George was built using earthworks and palisades or stakewalls, a wall made of wooden or iron stakes. The fort internal structures including an Officer’s quarters and a stone powder magazine where ammunition and other explosives could be stored. Also within the fort a blockhouse was constructed to house the ranks and also accomodate their families.
During the War of 1812 to 1815, a conflict between the United States and the British Army plus their respective allies, several battles were fought in the area of Fort George. In 1813, just after dawn on May 27th clearing fog revealed an American vessel off the shore. Military Commander, Scott Winfield was tasked with leading the first landing party for the American assault. Starting west of the mouth of the Niagara River Scott landed on the British territory while American Naval Commander Oliver Hazard Perry and his men directed a schooner to silence nearby squadrons that were supporting Fort George. The American landing parties were charged by bayonet wielding men from the Glengarry Light Infantry as they waded ashore. The Glengarry men were outnumbered and after loosing half their men retreated. The schooners in Lake Niagara, using grapeshot, a non-solid projectile made up of an arrangement of round shot packed into a canvas bag, attacked a company of The Royal Newfoundland resulting in them sustaining heavy casualties.
After landing, Military Commander Scott advanced up the beach only to meet with British Troops. Between Scott’s landing party and further fire from Commander Perry’s schooner the British Army sustained heavy losses. The commanding officer of the Niagara Peninsula in Upper Canada, General John Vincent, realised that his troops were out-numbered and ordered an immediate retreat to Queenston. Before their retreat General Vincent ordered the Fort guns of Fort George to be spiked and the magazines blown up. Despite this Commander Scott was able to secure Fort George with little damage. After inflicting heavy casualties on the British Army the Americans were able to secure several heavily fortified positions, including Fort George.
The Americans remained in a small military enclave around and within Fort George. In June 1813 an American column marched from Fort George to attempt to surprise a British outpost at Beaver Dams. The American troops stopped in the town of Queenston overnight. A resident of Queenston, Laura Secord walked 32kms (20 miles) through American occupied territory to warn the British Troops that the Americans were coming. When the Americans resumed their march they were ambushed by Native warriors and surrendered. About 500 Americans including their commander were taken prisoner. The Americans abandoned Fort George following this defeat as it was on the British side of the river. Fort George was then left to fall into ruin. In the 1930s the site was reconstructed.
During the First and Second World War Fort George was used as a military training base under the name of Camp Niagara. In 1966 the military left the fort. Fort George was then staffed by costumed characters and maintained by Parks Canada as a living museum with re-enactments. It has hosted such events as the 1955 World Scout Jamboree.
Fort George is considered one of the most haunted places in Niagara. One commonly sighted apparition is refered to as the “Woman in the Mirror”. She is a young curly haired woman that haunts the officer’s quarters and is dressed in a white dress. Two men dressed in red uniforms are also seen in the officers quarters. On occasion soldiers dressed in white are seen laying in the bunks in the officers quarters. Staff have also reported an apparition in an area of the fort closed to the public. The ghost is fondly referred to as Irving and he haunts the upper level of the barracks.
One area of the fort that is considered extremely haunted was only actually built in the 1960s. A tunnel built of stone and wood stretches seventy feet from inside the walls of the fort to the blockhouse. Despite it being built well after the battles Fort George endured, both during the day and night, the tunnel been the scene of paranormal phenomena both visual and auditory.
One of the most well known ghosts in Fort George is a seven year old girl known as Sarah Ann. She is believed to have been the daughter of one of the soldiers and to have died of a disease. The apparition has been seen and heard by staff and visitors to the fort. The apparition of Sarah Ann has been known to tap people on the shoulder.
Like all haunting there is much controversy about the phenomena at Fort George. While staying in Niagara-On-The-Lake I would often walk to the fort. Fort George has a somber feel especially in the snow.