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CCR Review 50 – Olympus OM-1

When it comes to the 1970s, the market was flooded with some very similar, yet different 35mm SLRs. The decade saw the rise of names like Minolta, Olympus, and Pentax to counter the big two of Canon and Nikon. The second review I wrote for this series was on the Pentax K1000, a fantastic camera, but now let me introduce to you to the OM-1. The camera that the K1000 should have been (sort of).

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

The Dirt
Make: Olympus
Model: OM-1
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 135, 35×24
Lens: Interchangeable, OM Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1972

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

The Good
I like the OM-1, I do. It’s a solid camera that’s great in the hands; lightweight yet has heft. Easy to carry, and even easier to use. I keep on saying you can’t beat a match-needle camera for learning photography on, and the OM-1 certainly doesn’t get the same level of praise as the school favourite K1000. And in many ways, the OM-1 is a slightly better camera for the student. The number one reason is that they are pretty cheap, you can pick up an OM-1 with a 50mm lens for under 100$. The camera is entirely mechanical, the battery only operates the meter, and the camera has a dedicated on/off switch, so you don’t need to fumble around for a lens cap like you do with the K1000. In general, the camera is well laid out with all the controls right there on the lens. Now if you’re unfamiliar with lens mounted controls, this might take a bit to get used to, I know I struggled with it on the Nikkormat FT3, but having experienced it there made going to the OM-1 easier.

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

The Bad
I feel I’m a broken record on this subject but the issue first and foremost is that the camera needs a mercury cell to operate. These can be hard to acquire, but they do last. Now you can use a 1.5v alkaline battery and in some cases it may work but in the case of the OM-1 I would not recommend it, the first roll I shot the metering was way off! The next trouble I have with the camera is the lack of an integral hot shoe. That’s right; there’s no built-in hot shoe but a separate accessory that you attach to the top of the prism to include that. Now the camera does have a PC socket so you can use a bracket to mount your flash. It’s almost as if Olympus had taken their idea right from Nikon. At least with Olympus, the hot shoe was a standard one, unlike Nikon where you had the weird over the film rewind mount.

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

The Lowdown
As I said in my introduction, the OM-1 is the camera the K1000 could have been. And sadly it’s lived in the shadow of that iconic student camera. The ultimate student camera would take the general size of the K1000, include lens mounted controls, an on/off switch, a hot shoe, and match needle metering. In all seriousness, the OM-1 is a fantastic camera with which you can easily learn photography that won’t break the bank or your back.

All Photos Taken in Hamilton, Ontario
Olympus OM-1 – Olympus F.Zuiko 1:1.8 f=50mm – ORWO UN54+ @ ASA-100 – HC-110 Dil. A 7:30 @ 20C

Why Shoot Expired?

This past Tuesday, the Ides of March, is also Expired Film Day. So I figured I would do a post about shooting expired film along with tips/tricks that I’ve come across with shooting old/expired film stocks. While I do a majority of my shooting with fresh film stock there is a certain level of fun and intrigue when shooting with expired film stock.

1. You can Shoot Film that is no longer available fresh.
There are plenty of film stocks out there that is new that you can often make behave like well loved film stock in the past but it just never will be the same. These days you can’t go out and pick up a fresh roll of Plus-X or Panatomic-X not to mention tonnes of other film stocks that have been discontinued and are only available in expired stocks. But if you’re lucky you can pick up only slightly expired.

Nikon F4 – AF Nikkor 35mm 1:2D – Kodak Panatomic-X (FX) @ ASA-32 – Xtol (1+1) 7:30 @ 20C

Taking Shelter
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Verichrome Pan (VP) @ ASA-125 – Kodak Xtol (1+2) 8:30 @ 20C

Expired Film Day!
Nikon FM2n – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Kodak Plus-X (PX) @ ASA-64 – Blazinal (1+100) 10:00 @ 20C

2. You know Instagram/Hipstamic…where do you think they got the idea from?
All that strange colour shifting, gritty, odd looks that you get with your favourite application those old rolls of colour films you have laying around that may have been stored in a dodgy area, you’re going to love some of the stranger shifts that you can get with older film stocks like Fuji Velvia, Kodak Ektachrome, and more!

Band Saw
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 75mm 1:2.8 – Fuji Velvia (RVP)

Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Ektachrome E100VS

Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – FPP Retrochrome 320 @ ASA-320 (Eastman Ektachrome 2253) – Unicolor Rapid E-6 Kit

3. It’s Cheap!
Many folks out there are looking to save several dollars these days well short dated film could be your answer! Seriously, if you frequent camera sales (the big ones with lots of vendors) you can usually find the film bins filled with the 1-2$ rolls of 120/35mm that you can pick through to find some deals. Nothing like walking out with twenty rolls for that bill in your wallet. And often it’s the best deal you can get at these shows. Not to mention FPP Retrochrome is cheap fun slide film and of course massive film lots from Ebay!

Sarah at the Garden
Anniversary Speed Graphic – Kodak Ektar f:7.7 203mm – Polaroid Type 79

Sunday Morning Stroll
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Kodak Ektar 25 (PHR)

For Rent
Nikon F4 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Ilford Pan F (Expired: 1978)

Of course there are some pitfalls and things to look out for when buying expired film and some ideas when shooting the stock once you get it.

1. Storage – Usually try to purchase film that have either been frozen or refrigerated, most Ebay auctions will give you some idea of how it was stored, and vendors at shows are usually up front. I’ve shot some dodgy Kodachrome and some frozen stock and the difference is night and day.

Poorly Stored:
Kent Street
Nikon F3 – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Kodak Kodachrome 64

Properly Stored:
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Biogon 2,8/28 T* – Kodak Kodachrome 64 (KR)

2. Processing – This is mostly important for Slide and Colour Negative films, before we got to our C-41 and E-6 processes today there were several older methods. Today most labs cannot process these older stocks so you’re on your own or sending them off to Film Rescue International, The Darkroom, or Blue Moon Camera and Machine to get done up in B&W chemistry, just be sure to reach out to them first (and the folks that run these companies know their shit) before just sending off random rolls. And while we’re on the topic, I would personally avoid Kodachrome, while you can process it in B&W chemistry it’s really mess and not worth the effort.

3. Pulling the Film – Pulling film is shooting it at a slower speed, the guideline is usually 1 stop per decade. This means that if you have a roll of Kodak High Definition Film that expired in 1994 and has a box speed (the film speed printed on the box) of ASA-400, you’ll want to shoot the film at ASA-100 so two stops. A stop is halving the speed of the film (ASA-400/2 = ASA-200/2 = ASA-100). Of course there are some films that can handle their full box speeds even expired. I’ve shot Plus-X, Panatomic-X, Verichrome Pan, FP4, Pan F all at box speeds with some rolls having expired in the 1960s and the results were fantastic! Of course if you change the film speeds you’ll need to adjust your developing times.

And that’s about it! Now go out there are scour ebay and your aunt’s house for some tasty film treats to run through your cameras. Of course you can also purchase some great stocks from the Film Photography Project Store!

Ottawa on Large Format

Back when I visited Ottawa for the first time in several years this past September I lugged along my 4×5 camera, and while I wasn’t too pleased with every shot, I made a point when I was there this past weekend to really focus, slow down, and work with the 4×5 primarily and put the smaller formats away. The results were a much stronger set of images that I am incredibly proud of and do plan on getting these into the darkroom to print.

The Centre Block
Centre Block

The East Block
East Block

Chateau Laurier
Chateau Laurier

Short Days Ago We Lived
Details of the National War Memorial

Connaught Building
The Connaught Building – National Headquarters

National Gallery
The National Gallery – as seen across Major Hill Park

Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 & Schneider-Krueznack Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak Plus-X Pan (PXP)
Kodak Microdol-X (Stock) 8:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 – Battle of the Mississenawa

While most of the actions of the War of 1812 took place along the border between the Canadas and the United States, there was a series of native raids in the southern reaches of the Northwest and Indiana Territories. The native allied, stirred into action by the successes of their British Allies in the north proceeded to lay siege to several American forts such as Forts Harrison and Wayne throughout the fall of 1812. But when General William Henry Harrison took command of the Army of the Northwest following Hull’s removal after his loss at Detroit. The old hand at dealing with the native threat took action.

52:500c - Week 41 - Battle Ground
A memorial to the 48 warriors of the Miami and Delaware tribes who gave their lives in the defense of their lands
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 25 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

In his first order as General of the Army of the Northwest, he ordered a force of mounted troops to conduct punitive raids against native settlements, destroying, killing, and taking prisoners. On the 14th of December, one such party under Colonel John Cambell left from Fort Greenville to raid along the Mississenawa River. They arrived and made quick work of the village of Chief Silverhand before proceeding on.

52:500c - Week 41 - Battle Ground
12 lonely tombs occupy the old battlefield, one for each American soldier killed in the action.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 25 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

They were able to destroy two more villages before heading for home, most of the raiders suffering from sickness or frostbite. As they returned to the ruins of Silverhand’s village, another force of natives caught them in an ambush. Seeing initial successes, even freeing some of their breatharian in the process. Campbell, however, would see none of this, managed to rally his troops and drove the natives back. He was ready to pursue when word reached him that one of the captured force reported that the legendary Shawnee war chief Tecumseh was in the region. Campbell ordered the column to ride for home, arriving there on the 28th. While much of Campbell’s force had been forced out of action due to illness, and about a dozen had been killed. Harrison would call the action an American victory as the task had been completed, but at great cost.

Project:1812 - Battle of Mississinawa
The Mississenawa River flowing past the event site
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 75mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Plus-X Pan – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

Today you can still see the original battlefield located just outside of Marion, Indiana along County Road 308 West, two markers, the graves of the US troops lost, and a sign are located there. A larger memorial is located in downtown Marion. One of the oldest War of 1812 reenactment takes place in the area every October on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and while we remember the action at Mississenawa, the battle itself is not reenacted, but simply four tactical demos featuring US and British forces. Also some of the best shopping at any event I’ve ever seen.

52:320TXP - Week 42 - The Battle
The battle reenactment at the 2014 Mississenawa Event
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Kodak Tri-X Pan – Kodak HC-110 Dil. E 6:30 @ 20C

Written with Files from:
Web: www.mississinewa1812.com/info.htm
Web: www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng/Topic/23
Web: www.warof1812.ca/mississa.htm

Warplanes and Large Format

A dreary Saturday can only be spent one of two ways…either locking yourself inside or going to your favourite museum. I chose the later. The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum at the Hamilton International Airport in Mount Hope, Ontario has always been a favourite of mine from the first time going when they were housed in an old hanger. Sadly in 1993 the hanger was destroyed by fire loosing five of their aircraft…but many survived that still form the core of the museum’s collection today. The star of the show, an Avro Lancaster bomber, a personal favourite of mine. What makes the Lancaster all the more special is the fact it’s only one of two that can still fly in the world.

Consolidated PBY-5A Canso
A Consolidated PBY-5a Canso – Acquired by the Museum in 1995

Douglas C-47 Dakota
Douglas C-47 Dakota Mk. III – A recent addition to the museum, don’t let the Envirovnment Canada livery fool you, this plane dropped Canadian Paratroopers during the Operation Overlord Landings

But when I visited the museum the Lancaster was in England, flying with the other still flying Lancaster in a series of airshows for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Despite that there was still plenty to see in the airport. The one thing I really like about CWHM is that the aircraft gallery is well lit! But working with large format and ASA-125 film I was still shooting fairly long exposures. But patience paid off and there weren’t many patrons when I was there so I didn’t have to wait too long.

Fairchild Cornell Mk. II
Fairchild Cornell Mk. II – Acquired by the Museum in 1979

Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XVIe
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XVIe – On loan from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario

Another neat part of the museum is that many of their aircraft are flight worthy! Plus you can watch skilled volunteers work on maintaining their fleet and restoring new acquisitions to the collection! Many have been in the process of being restored for decades, so it’s fun to go back and see how far they’ve progressed since the last visit.

North American B-25J Mitchell Mk. III
North American B-25J Mitchell III – Acquired by the Museum in 1975, although it never saw combat in WW2

de Havilland DH.82C Tiger Moth
de Havilland DH.82c Tiger Moth – Acquired by the Museum in 1973

Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Kodak Plus-X Pan @ ASA-125
Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 5:45 @ 20C

World Photo Day 2013

August 19th has become known as World Photography day, as it celebrates the anniversary that France, where modern photography was born gave the secret to the world, for free for all.

How about that. This year it sadly crept up on me so I had to rush to get a couple cameras into the field over the course of the work day. But I was actually really pleased with the results I got, not to mention the stares and comments about using an old Polaroid Pack Camera.

World Photography Day - 2013

World Photography Day - 2013

World Photography Day - 2013

World Photography Day - 2013

World Photography Day 2013

World Photography Day 2013

World Photography Day 2013

World Photography Day 2013

Polaroid Automatic Model 250 Land Camera – Polaroid Chocolate
Olympus Trip 35 – D.Zuiko 40mm f/2.8 – Kodak Plus-X @ ASA-64 – Rodinal (1+100) 10:00 @ 20C

End of Summer Classic – The Canadian National Exibition

Nothing says end of summer for Toronto like the Canadian National Exibition. I usually make an effort to attend on the labour day weekend to take in the airshow, saldy this year the light was horrible so my airshow photos just didn’t turn out that well. But I took a chance to wander around the grounds a little more this time around to do some street photography of the crowds and came out with some wonderful candid shots of the many people who attend the CNE!

CNE - Labour Day 2012
A Great overlook of the CNE midway from the Atlantis Complex at Ontario Place

CNE - Labour Day 2012
A big part of the CNE is always the Canadian Forces display. I spent a good hour talking to our brave men and women in uniform

CNE - Labour Day 2012
These two carnnies were great, they were most impressed it was a film camera

CNE - Labour Day 2012
A squadron of Harvards over the lake put on a show for the public

CNE - Labour Day 2012
There’s always a lot of see at the CNE, get a map or download their app for your smartphone, I know it helped me.

CNE - Labour Day 2012
Tiny Tom doughnuts are always a fixture at the CNE

CNE - Labour Day 2012
Taking in the view above the crowd

CNE - Labour Day 2012
It was a hot day, so the fire department helped out

CNE - Labour Day 2012
The Midway

CNE - Labour Day 2012
Long Day

Nikon F4 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D
Kodak Technical Pan (ISO-25) – Blazinal 1+50 4:30 @ 20C
Kodak Plus-X 125 – HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

Seven Miles

My car wound its way along the dusty road deep in Ontario’s cottage country; I knew where I was going, but it was based on probably outdated satellite imagery and information from someone whom I didn’t trust. But as I was in the area I decided to take a chance. The gates to the old Seven Mile Island property were wide open inviting me to come in, not a sign of life as I drove along the narrow track road along the shores of the lake. Oddly enough it began to remind me of the old children’s novel “Gone Away Lake” which was a favourite of mine. All it was missing was the huge Victorian homes and the kindly brother and sister.

Seven Mile Island

Oddly enough there was an older gentleman who still tends the ground; he was more than happy to let me wander the grounds. The gardens and grounds remain in good shape, the buildings many are still there intact although time has taken it’s toll on the place having no one living or using the location for over ten years now. The property showed use as far back as the 1880s when it was used as a hunting lodge and camp. Through the last half of the 19th and into the early 20th century the property earned its name as Seven Mile Island and was transformed from a wild hunting lodge to a grand estate with manicured lawns, fountains, and gardens.

Seven Mile Island

Through the mid-20th century, the property was forgotten, but new owners once again took up the mantle and began to restore the site, the grand cottage was restored, more buildings, added. The property was opened to the public; a summer camp was operated. Families could enjoy picnics, and take boats out onto the lake. Dances were held as were garden parties.

Seven Mile Island

Into the late 20th century the property was turned into a public resort, but that project failed along with several others and artist colony lived there in the early 21st century, but since 2002 no efforts were made to restore or reopen the site. Only the kindly old gentleman who tends the grounds. There’s no sign of the grand cottage that once occupied the site; there were two modern looking homes (which could be from the 1950s improvements), but they seemed occupied, so I made a point to avoid them. I may have to go back there.

Seven Mile Island
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Kodak Plus-X (125PX)

Project:1812 – The Battle of Fort George

After a series of defeats in the first year of the war, the American government needed a bold new plan. Plans made in early 1813 in Washington DC called for an all out invasion of Upper Canada on all fronts. Forces stationed at Sacket’s Harbor would set out and take Kingston (the major Provincial Marine base in Upper Canada), York (the Capital of Upper Canada), and Fort Erie. Once those three objectives where taken, they would march on the headquarters of the British Army in Upper Canada, Fort George located in Newark (modern day Niagara-On-The-Lake). General Henry Dearborn quickly called off the attack on Kingston, after getting a (false) report that close to 8,000 British regulars had been stationed there. Instead Dearborn went ahead and attacked York at the end of April of 1813 capturing and burning the town, then turned his attention towards Fort George.

Project:1812 - Fort George
The central blockhouse at Fort George

General John Vincent had been given command of the British forces along the Niagara Peninsula he commanded a force of 1,000 regulars, 50 native warriors, and 300 militia. The British regulars stationed there were made up of the 8th (The King’s) Regiment of Foot, the 49th Regiment of Foot, the Glengarry Light Infantry, and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The trouble was that although Vincent knew that an attack was coming, he just didn’t know where the invading forces would land. With cannon fire between Fort George and Fort Niagara since the start of the conflict, Vincent assumed that any invading force would arrive under the cover the Niagara’s guns. But not wanting to leave an open area split his force into three groups, placing a majority at the river, another group west of Newark at the lakeshore, and the remaining forces inside Fort George. What Vincent didn’t know was that the Americans had massed a force of 4,000 troops.

Lake Ontario
Fort Niagara across the river

On May 25th the American guns opened up on Fort George and the British shore batteries, the attack was coming, Vincent knew this, but there was still no indication where the Americans were going to land. That became clear on the morning of the 27th, when a squadron of American ships sailed into range on the western side of the town, on the lake. By this point under two days of heavy bombardment Fort George had lost a few buildings to fire due to the heated shot being fired. The squadron under Lieutenant Oliver Hazard Perry managed to suppress the British Shore batteries giving time for Lieutenant Colonel Winfield Scott to lead the initial attack. Major Forsythe’s 1st US Rifle Regiment, the 15th US Infantry, and members of the 2nd US Artillery (fighting as infantry) waded ashore only to be met with a bayonet charge from the Glengarry Light Infantry, even Lt. Col Scott had to fight off a soldier, the Royal Newfoundlanders joined in the charge also but grape shot from Perry’s Squadron on the lake shattered the group forcing them to fall back. With the shore batteries suppressed Commodore Chauncey sailed his flagship the USS General Pike and proceeded to bombard Fort George with deadly results. The defenders managed to regroup outside of the fort linking up with the remaining defenders positioned near the river and forced Scott’s troops back into Newark, only to be again cut to pieces by the ships on the river and the next wave of American troops having landed.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Fort George
A public golf course now occupies the site of the initial engagements of the Battle of Fort George. The public can visit the historic markers, just watch out for golfers.

General Vincent soon found himself outgunned, outnumbered, and outflanked. And with more American troops on their way he made the only call he could, retreat. Leaving a small force behind who destroyed what was left of the ammunition (the explosion knocked Scott from his horse breaking his collar bone) and spiking the guns Vincent and the remaining forces retreated back to Queenston, then Beaver Dams and finally the British fortifications at Burlington Heights. Along the way they were joined by the garrison from Fort Erie whom had fallen back as well upon a warning Vincent had sent them. The only saving grace was the delay of the US Dragoons, who were sent to cut off Vincent’s escape route. The British had lost the Niagara Peninsula to the Americans who quickly established themselves using Fort George as a base to probe the British lines. Bu they failed to exploit this advantage, under Dearborn they moved slowly giving the British time to regroup, engagements at Stoney Creek and Beaver Dams forced them out, and by the winter of 1813 they had fallen back across the river, leaving Fort George, and the town of Newark in ruins, having burned Newark to the ground. Drummond struck back, as British forces crossed the river burning Buffalo, several other towns to the ground and taking Fort Niagara at bayonet point by December of 1813.

Project:1812 - The Battle of Fort George
The memorial cairn marking the American’s landing site.

Today a majority of the battlefield is covered by the town of Niagara-On-The-Lake and a golf course, a cairn marks the approximate landing point of the initial attack on Fort George at the western side of the course. Fort George was rebuilt in the 1930s, and is open to the public as a museum and national historic site; the powder magazine in the fort is the original one. Across the river Fort Niagara is also open to the public as a historic site and museum.

With files from:
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers

Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 75mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Plus-X Pan, Kodak Tri-X Pan, Ilford FP4+

Project:1812 – Fort Erie

With the annual siege reenactment coming up this weekend, I figured I may as well introduce you, my readers to the Fort that is on the site of Canada’s bloodiest battle, and the last major engagment in Upper Canada from the War of 1812, Fort Erie. The old Fort is located in the town that bears its name, Fort Erie. Located close to the lake, the fort is open to the public and is maintained by the Niagara Parks Commission. For more information about the old fort you can visit their website at: www.niagaraparks.com/old-fort-erie/index.html

Front Gate
The outer gates with a draw bridge of Fort Erie

Fort Erie was one of several forts that were built along the Niagara Peninsula as part of the defense of Upper Canada at the close of the 18th century. The site has actually housed three forts. The first two forts, built 1764 and 1779 respectively where both destroyed by winter storms sweeping off Lake Erie. In 1803 it was decided to move the site of the fort further inland by fifty yards, and construction began on a new masonry fort. But construction was slow, and sporadic. And when was declared in 1812, Fort Erie was far from complete and only had a small garrison.

The Fort
Between 1937 and 1939 the fort was restored to what it would have looked like during the War of 1812.

Thankfully the American’s did not make an attempt to seize the fort during the first year of the war with most of the action happening out on the western front of Upper Canada and the failed invasion attempt at Queenston. Soldiers from Erie were sent out to engage and take back the battery at Frenchman’s Creek. But in 1813, when Fort George fell to the Americans at the end of May, the garrison at Fort Erie also fell back to Burlington Heights, destroying the incomplete fort in the process. American forces did not make an effort to reconstruct the ruins, but rather occupied them, only to be driven out again during the winter campaign of 1813 that saw the American’s ejected from the peninsula. After retaking the fort, the British put a more concentrated effort into rebuilding Fort Erie, leaving the task in the hands of a much larger garrison from the 8th (The King’s) Regiment of Foot with Major Buck in command of the fort. But when the Americans once again arrived in force on July 3rd, 1814, the fort was taken with little effort. It was the Americans that finally completed Fort Erie, expanding its defenses, and using it as a base of operations for their campaign across the Niagara Peninsula. By August 1814 the fort was near impregnable as the British drew their siege lines to remove the Americans from Upper Canada once again. But multiple bloody attempts by the British only ended in failure, and by September of 1814 they fell back to their own strong point at Chippawa. The weather and the British invasion of the eastern seaboard of the United States at the end of 1814 forced the Americans to retreat across the river in November. During the retreat they destroyed the fort leaving it in ruins.

Unlike many of the surviving forts from the era, Erie features two masonry blockhouses.

After 1815 the British maintained a garrison in the ruins of Fort Erie, but the fort itself was never rebuilt completely, and eventually by the mid 19th century the garrison was removed as well. The fort was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad helping escaped slaves from the United States find freedom in Canada. When the Fenian Brotherhood was conducting raids through Canada in 1866 they used the old Fort ruins as a base for their operations before their defeat at the hands of the Incorporated Canadian Militia. The ruins became a popular spot for the public to gather and the grounds as a picnic spot for the residences of the town of Fort Erie that had grown up around the old fortifications. Even author Mark Twain and the Prince of Wales (Edward VII) visited the grounds when they were in Canada. Restoration efforts began in 1937 to rebuild the fort to the configuration it was in during 1812 to 1814, it was reopened to the public as a museum and historic site on July 1st, 1939. During the restoration a mass grave was discovered of both American and British soldiers. In 2011 major renovations in and around the fort made it more accessible to the public and a new visitors centre was completed for the Bicentennial years. During the second weekend in August the Fort hosts reenactors from both Canada and the United States who recreate the bloody siege of 1814.

As part of the 2011 renovation, staff constructed a typical British seige battery which visitors can go see. Reenactors representing the Royal Artillery will often camp here during the August reenactment.

With Files from:
Web: www.niagaraparks.com/old-fort-erie/history.html
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers

Photos: Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Kodak Plus-X Pan (PXP)