In my previous entry I spoke on General Isaac Brock the savior of Upper Canada, so it only makes sense that I present Queenston and the Heights (today known as Queenston Heights). A strategic point along the Niagara Frontier, the Heights along with the village of Queenston nestled beneath them found themselves on the front lines in October of 1812. Now I will not speak on the battle that happened here, I’m saving that one for October itself when the great battle is reenacted.
The heights today are occupied by several reminders of the War of 1812, two such reminders are Fort Drummond and Fort Reill which is in ruins. A number of batteries are marked around the heights as well. Drummond and Reill were both constructed in 1814 mostly earthwork square fortifications, after the Battle of Chippawa, the British were forced to retreat from the Heights allowing them to be recaptured by the Americans. The British however retook the Heights and reoccupied the two forts after the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. Following the war and the ease of tensions between the Empire and the Americans the forts were left on their own. Through the 1920s the former battle ground became a popular spot for picnics. Fort Drummond became a splash pad for children in 1967, having been a wading pool for many years before hand. Both forts are marked by historic plaques.
The biggest monument on the Heights is of course Brock’s monument. This massive stone column serves not only as a monument to the General but a marker for his final resting place. The monument that stands today is actually the second one. The original monument’s corner stone was laid on June 1st, 1824. A Tuscan column at 130 feet tall crafted from Queenston limestone. On October 13th, 1824 five thousand people attended the dedication and burial ceremony that saw the bodies of General Isaac Brock, and his aide-de-camp Lt. Colonel MacDonnell moved from Fort George to a vault beneath the great monument. Tourist could climb to the top which offered views of the Niagara Peninsula; it remained a very popular attraction for the area. But in April of 1840, a rebel, attached to William Lyon Mackenzie, conducted a terrorist attack, the bomb destroying much of the monument. A campaign to rebuild it started immediately, but it was a slow under taking. The new monument was taller and grander than the first, reaching to nearly 200 feet, including a statue of Brock at the very peek was dedicated and opened on October 13th, 1860 with Edward, Prince of Wales (Later King Edward VII) present. You cannot drive along the parkway without picking the monument out standing above the trees that grow now along the Heights. Parks Canada operates the site, often a reenactor from the 49th stands guards during the tourist season and for a small fee you can still climb to the top.
A second monument to Brock stands below the Heights in the village of Queenston, a small cenotaph near the site where the General fell (fifteen yards according to an eyewitness). The larger monument remains in view today. Also nearby is a monument to Brock’s horse, Alfred, at the site where the General tethered him before leading the attack against the American Invaders. The horse was present at the parade that carried the body of Brock back to Fort George for burial.
But Queenston is known mostly for one famous resident, Laura Secord. Laura and her husband James owned a simple white frame house in the village during the War of 1812, which during the battle was damaged and looted, The Secord family was forced to flee. James Secord was a Sergeant in the 1st Lincoln Militia, but his wife Laura is much more well known, having walked 20 miles in 1813 to bring important intelligence to British forces near (what is today) St. Catherines. Her home was restored in 1971 and acts as a museum.
Written with files from:
Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 Second Edition by Gilbert Collins – 2006 The Dundurn Group Publishers
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