War of 1812 Events
By: Megan Pasche
Photos : Katie Farr, Niagara 1812 Legacy Council

200 years ago in 1814, the War of 1812 was winding down into its final year. Several key battles took place in 1814, many of which will be reenacted this upcoming season. 1814 was by far the most brutal and bloody year of the war, and there were many casualties on both sides during this last year of battle.

The Battle of Chippewa took place on the banks of the Niagara River, when 2000 British, Canadian and Aboriginal forces attacked an invading American army. The battle started very early in the morning and stretched all the way until 6pm. The Americans won this battle after the British were forced to withdraw. 200 lives were lost during this battle, many of who remain buried on the battlefield.

This reenactment hosted by the Niagara Parks Commission takes place on July 5 and 6, and will be happening on the actual battlefield where the original battle took place. There will be more than 500 soldiers on the fields for the reenactment. Battles will be taking place both days at 2pm, with a commemorative service at 5pm. The event is free to attend.

The next major battle to take place was the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, which would end up being one of the bloodiest battles in the War of 1812. During this amazing commemoration on July 25, participants will have the chance to “enlist” on a side and make their way on foot from opposite ends of Niagara Falls, and meet on the “battlefield.” Participants will literally be walking in the footsteps of the soldiers as they follow the old portage road. Upon arriving, there will be a commemorative service, which includes a performance by Next Company Theatre, which will immerse visitors in the story. The Battle of Lundy’s Lane saw the loss of 250 men, with four times that number getting wounded. The battle resulted in American withdrawal to Fort Erie, after a confusing and chaotic night battle.

The Siege of Fort Erie is the largest War of 1812 reenactment in Canada and takes place at Old Fort Erie on August 9 and 10. In the summer of 1814, the Americans were occupying Fort Erie, and the British began a formal siege on August 2, and led a night assault on August 15. The attack was stopped after a gunpowder magazine exploded, killing or wounding 1000 people. Reenacters from all across North America come to participate in this reenactment.

The last battle of the War of 1812 that took place in Niagara was the Battle of Cook’s Mills, which took place on October 19, 1814 in Cook’s Mills when the American forces tried to destroy all the British supplies of flour. The half hour fight ended when the British withdrew, allowing the Americans to destroy all flour and grain supplies, before they headed back across the Niagara River. This reenactment, which will be taking place on October 18 and 19, will be a fun day for the family that will feature two re-enactments, a commemorative service, and more.

The War of 1812 came to an end on December 24, 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium, though a couple more battles still took place into early 1815 (but only on American soil), as it took at least a month for word of the Treaty of Ghent to reach North America. Both countries slowly started to rebuild after the war, and all of the towns that had been burned over the course of the war: Niagara, St. David’s, Port Dover, Port Ryerse, Youngstown, Lewiston, Manchester and Buffalo, were slowly built back up. This war marked a time in history where much nationalistic pride was developed on both sides of the border, and even more important, the end of the war marked the beginning of two countries existing together in peace. There have been tensions of course, but they have been resolved through talking, as opposed to warfare. This peace is almost unprecedented in world history, and it is something both nations can be extremely proud of. As the War of 1812 celebrations draw to a close in 2014, that 200 years of peace is definitely something worth celebrating.

More information on War of 1812 events can be found at discover1812.com