Fort Malden National Historic Site offers a fascinating look into Canada’s military history including the War of 1812 and the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837-38. Overlooking the Detroit River, this was the southern-most British outpost in North America when it was established in 1796. It was used by the British to defend the western frontier against the Americans and the place where Major General Sir Isaac Brock and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh formed a key alliance. It was occupied by the Americans from 1813-1815.
In the late 18th and 19th centuries, fortifications at Fort Malden witnessed and participated in important struggles that helped to define this country. The original fort was the headquarters for the Right Division of the British Army in Upper Canada during the war of 1812. This fort was destroyed by the British when they retreated in September, 1813. Americans occupied the ruins until July 1815. British troops were slow to rebuild the fort until 1820. Between 1820 and 1825, they built several buildings including the barracks, officer’s quarters, powder mag, latrines, cookhouses, and gunshed.
The British withdrew from the fort in 1836, but rushed back during the Upper Canadian Rebellion of 1837-38. The fort has been an army garrison, British Indian Department post, dockyard for the Upper Great Lakes, a lunatic asylum, and the place where Chief Tecumseh and British Major General Brock met to form an alliance.
Standing in the centre of the fort is a stunning piece of architecture constructed in 1861-1862. The Hough House is our museum, and it has been a home, a mill, and part of an asylum.
Across the Detroit River from the fort is Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse National Historic Site, the entrance/gateway to the mouth of the Detroit River and access to the Upper Great Lakes. Constructed in 1836, the tall limestone lighthouse was the scene of an 1838 invasion by Canadian rebels and their American supporters. The wooden blockhouse was part of the defences of Fort Malden in 1839.
Amherstburg Navy Yard is located near Fort Malden along the waterfront of the Detroit River. This British naval yard operated during the War of 1812, from 1796-1813. All of the ships used by the British Fleet on Lake Erie and Lake Huron were constructed here. The Lake Erie fleet was defeated by the Americans at the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813. Fort Amherstburg was burned and abandoned by the British in retreat and occupied by the Americans until 1815.