Fort Niagara, although no longer a Canadian fort, still holds a vital piece of Canadian history. From Queens Royal Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake, it sits like a sentinel, majestically overseeing everything that enters and leaves the Niagara River.
From this vantage point it appears as if time has never passed since the days when Indian chiefs traded furs with the French, and the land west of the mighty Niagara River was a vast unspoiled wilderness.
Fort Niagara was built by the French in 1726-1727 to facilitate trade with the Aboriginal people. The French explorer La Salle left his mark by building a small fort in 1670, less than a mile north of where Youngstown now stands. The French gained control of the Great Lakes area and by 1727 built the "Castle" which became the centerpiece of Old Fort Niagara.
In 1759, a large force of British soldiers under the command of General Prideux was sent up the then Mohawk River and along Lake Ontario to lay siege to the French Fort. During the battle, Prideux was killed and Sir William Johnson took command. Through the efforts of Sir William Johnson the British acquired Fort Niagara in 1759. Like their french predecessors the British would continue to operate the fort mainly as a trading post and a rendezvous destination for expeditions setting off into the interior.
Under the supervision of Sir William Johnson the British would foster an allegiance with the First Nations that would hold steadfast in the turbulent years that were about to unfold.