Contrary to popular belief, it was the French, and not the British, who built the original Fort Erie back in the 1600s. The British hadn’t officially claimed the site until 1763, building their own fort following the conclusion of the seven years war.
Located at 350 Lakeshore Road, the original Fort Erie sat on the edge of the Canadian side of the Niagara River. The severity of the winter storms began to be troublesome for the British, which lead to the construction of a new fort on higher ground, further away from the riverbanks in 1803.
However, the new fort had yet to be completed when the war of 1812 had begun. Less than a year into the war, US forces had temporarily taken control of the fort only to have the British regain control shortly after. The US forces managed to seize the fort yet again in 1814, destroying the fort and fleeing to Buffalo in December of that year. As the US fled, the carnage and bloodshed left behind was astounding, allowing Fort Erie to easily be recognized as the deadliest battlefield in Canadian history.
The British occupied what was left of the fort until 1823. Stones left from the fort’s ruin were used three kilometers north in the building of the St. Paul’s Anglican Church. Being left somewhat abandoned, the fort remained empty until a brigade of Irish Republicans claimed the fort as their base during their raid into Ontario in 1866. The Irish fled shortly after, and the fort remained abandoned until reconstruction began in 1937.
With such a history of such violence and bloodshed, it is believed by many that the ghosts of deceased soldiers continue to call this fort home. Supported with evidence from an archeological excavation in the late 1900s, the journal of a former drummer boy tells many tales of apparitions and ghost like activity.
The drummer boy spoke of certain visions, including that of a headless soldier as well as a soldier missing his hands. While the US Forces were occupying the fort for the second and final time, it is documented that a young corporal was shaving the beard of Sergeant Benjamin White before a British cannonball came blasting through the fort, severing the corporal’s hands and decapitating the sergeant.
by: Chase Kell