War of 1812

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Making Our Mark

The War of 1812 was a defining moment for the residents of Niagara and has contributed to the identity of our community and country.

To commemorate the War of 1812 and the significant impact that the war had on the residents of Niagara Falls the City of Niagara Falls, along its federal and provincial partners have invested in the Niagara Falls History Museum, with its significant collection of War of 1812 artefacts and located just steps away from the Battle of Lundy’s Lane National Historic Site.

The Museum houses three galleries, the R.D. Gale War of 1812 Gallery, the Community Exhibitions Gallery and the OPGI Temporary Exhibitions Gallery. Exhibitions will explore the history of Niagara Falls and the impact of the War of 1812.

History of War of 1812 in Niagara Falls

Soldiers Standing at Arms

In the spring of 1812, war broke out between the United States and Britain. The conflict was focused on the British North American colonies, notably along the border between Upper Canada and the Northeast United States. The Niagara Peninsula was one of the principal scenes of action.

Most historians agree there was no single cause of the War of 1812 but rather several related causes.

The Napoleonic Wars (c.1803-1815) raging in Europe had a global impact. Wishing to remain neutral and assert its independence, the United States continued to trade with both Britain and France. Nevertheless, diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Britain deteriorated. Forced labour and terrible conditions on British naval vessels resulted in sailor desertions to the U.S. by the thousands. Meanwhile, Britain’s support of the First Nations in the American Northwest threatened U.S. expansion. Not all voices clamoured for war, but a persuasive American political faction called the War Hawks emerged who believed victory over British North America would be “a mere matter of marching”.

During the War, the residents of Niagara Falls were encircled by British, American, Canadian and Native forces. Major battles occurred in the surrounding towns and villages but by 1814, the current city of Niagara Falls became a war zone. The Battle of Chippawa and Battle of Lundy’s Lane were defining moments for the soldiers, officers, residents and the nations involved.