Since 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has provided advice to the Canadian government on the designation of places, people and events that have marked and shaped Canada. Every year, new subjects are added to the list of designations. The nominated subject must have a historical significance from a national perspective, beyond a local or regional impact.
On May 21, 1921 the Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada designated NINE National Historic Sites in the Niagara Region alone! 2021 marked the 100th anniversary of these commemorations, which help mark a range of stories from Canada’s past including the War of 1812, the Fenian Raids, Upper Canada Rebellions and more. We don’t want to spoil it for you though, so make sure to read the plaques at each destination! If you can’t visit in person or need some clues as to where the plaques are, you can find the spoilers in the Directory of Federal Designations links in the map below.
Try and find them all in one day, or check them off when you get a chance to explore Niagara next! Pick any spot as your first destination and then head to the next on the list for a trip past some of Niagara’s most iconic landmarks, scenic landscapes, as well as some hidden gems. So pack some snacks and head out to explore! Don’t wait another 100 years to check them all out.
Don’t forget to share your road tripping adventure with us! Tag us @FortGeorgeNHS on Facebook and Twitter and use #HistoricRoadTrips!
The battlefield of Fort George plaque is quite large, and is located in the northeast corner of the battlefield where the Americans landed. Today you can take in a peaceful stroll along the waterfront and get your own understanding of how the landscape affected the battle. You might even be able to spot the Toronto Skyline from here!
The plaque at Fort George offers insight into the history of Fort George itself, but don’t stop there! Fort George is more than just a plaque – the site introduces visitors to military life in 1812 with demonstrations and restored heritage buildings. It’s best to plan a longer visit to this site ahead of time to make sure you don’t miss history brought to life. Costumed Interpreters can help answer any of the questions that the plaque doesn’t cover – don’t be shy! (Admission rates apply)
Follow the Niagara Parkway to find this plaque nestled between Fort George National Historic Site and Brock’s Monument. This plaque is close to the Niagara Parks Commission Riverfront trail, which provides the perfect venue for an afternoon stroll. Visitors can use the trail to survey the Niagara river, while respecting the private properties near by that have since capitalized on this unique view. As you travel your route, can you tell why this spot made sense to help defend Upper Canada during the War of 1812? After heading off from here, check to see if you can stop in at Laura Secord House or Brock’s Monument at Queenston Heights to help answer the question!
If you didn’t stop for a picnic at Queenston Heights, the Battle of Chippawa Park or one of the many parkettes along the Parkway south of the Falls might be a quiet spot! If you want to imagine and, retrace the events of this significant battle, follow along with the Niagara Park’s self-guided tour!
You don’t need a boat to access this one, in fact, the island is actually closed to the public! The plaque is near the Battle of Chippawa plaque, and can also be found along the Niagara Parkway. It is perfectly situated to give you a clear view of the Island, and you might even find a nice resting spot here to be able to think about what you’d use the Island for – it’s already been used for so much!
This spot is at the opposite end of the Niagara River from where this list started, and yet is still on the Niagara Parkway! Make sure to stop and stroll to the bridge over the creek to appreciate how it connected Fort Erie and Chippawa. And if you still don’t understand the importance, keep going down the parkway, and maybe even visit our friends at Old Fort Erie! Plan ahead to make sure you have enough time to ask their staff any questions you may have thought of since visiting Fort George!
Take a step away from the Niagara River over to this site, where the Canadian Volunteer Militia valiantly fought to try to defend a young country! Fort Erie Museum and Cultural Services helps interpret and maintain the Ridgeway Battlefield park nearby where you can find out even more about this effort.
Head to the Cook’s Mills area near Welland to find this cairn! Spot Lyon’s creek from here and explore the nearby area to find the peace garden at the corner of Lyon’s Creek and Doan’s Ridge Roads that helps give a contemplative spot to ponder the abundance of battlefields in Niagara. Why did the Americans keep attacking Niagara after all?
The last site on our list is near water today, but it was not when the battle took place! Near lock 7 on the Welland Canal (a National Historic Event), this site commemorates a battle that may be lesser known than the heroine who warned the British of the attack (you may have stopped by her homestead earlier?). However, read the plaque text well! This British victory doesn’t just owe thanks to her bravery. As Mohawk War Chief John Norton observed, "the Caughnawaga Indians fought the battle, the Mohawks or Six Nations got the plunder, and FitzGibbon got the credit."