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Fort George National Historic Site of Canada


Jay's Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation

In 1794 a new treaty was created that established the borders between the Canadas and the United States as we know them today. Britain was forced to relinquish control of Mackinac, Detroit, Fort Niagara, Oswego, and Oswegatchie. By the terms of the treaty the British were given 2 years to vacate these posts. As the British moved out the American army marched in, and as a result several forts had to be quickly constructed to defend against the new American fortified positions on the waterways. Amongst those sites were Fort St Joseph, Fort Malden, and Fort George. Because of the threat created by the new American presence at Fort Niagara, Simcoe shifted the capital to York.

Newark saw a flurry of development which was enhanced by the construction of the new British garrison (Fort George) in 1796. Both American and British garrisons required numerous tradesmen and civilian businesses to sustain their frontier outposts and the development of the town grew from this relationship. By 1799, the population of the Niagara area was approaching 6,000. By 1810, the population of Newark (the town proper) was almost to 700 residents with roughly 150 buildings.

For the most part, relations between Fort George and Fort Niagara were pleasant and it was not uncommon for American officers to visit Niagara and vice versa. Conflict was unexpected and undesirable. Events hundreds of kilometres to the south west and on the eastern seaboard would change all of that.

Close-up from Gray Map of Fort George (Plan of Niagara)
Close-up from Gray Map of Fort George (Plan of Niagara)
© National Archives of Canada / A Gray / H4/450NIAGARA