Exploring Great Destinations in the Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada
Peace Bridge, Fort Erie Ontario

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Fort Erie, Ontario

Fort Erie, Ontario is a town located at the southern entrance of the Niagara River, along the shores of Lake Erie. The area was originally settled by United Empire Loyalists as early as 1784.

The French had already built a crude fort at the location, followed by the British, who saw the area as strategically important in the fight against the American forces and also built a fort here. A small settlement soon sprang up around the fort.

The fort was captured by the Americans during the War of 1812, and destroyed. The siege at Fort Erie was the last time American troops were to occupy Canadian soil.

Fort Erie was also the home to a large Indian settlement who called the area "Graah-gah-geh", the Algonquin word meaning "place of the hats". The story is told that the name came about after a great battle between the French and Indians. The Indians overtook the French and all the French were massacred. Their hats floating on the shore would always be remembered by the Indians as "place of the hats".

In 1750 the French built a stockade at Fort Erie and fortified it with about 20 soldiers. After Fort Niagara had been relinquished to Sir William Johnson the french still remained at the crude fort for a time eventually abandoning it to the British. Once the British gained control they proceeded to rebuild the fort as well as a dock.

Around 1800 a ferry operated from Black Rock, in the State of New York to a place on the Canadian side aproximately 2 miles from the fort and it was here that many of the early settlers found passage into Canada from the United States.

Because of it's close proximity to Buffalo and it's lovely lakeshore the area soon became a favourite destination for wealthy Americans. Many lakefront properties were purchased by these Americans who would build grand summer residences along the Lake Erie lakeshore.

In 1885 there was a passenger ferry that ran from Buffalo to Fort Erie and that year over 50,000 patrons made the journey. Fort Erie has one of the busiest border crossings in North America at the Peace Bridge.

Fort Erie is also home to one of the oldest horse racing tracks in North America. The town also hosts the Friendship Festival, a joint celebration held every summer celebrating the peace and harmony that exists between Canada and the U.S.