Fort Erie, Ontario Canada

Discover Fort Erie, Ontario: A Blend of History and Modernity

Fort Erie, Ontario, is a charming town nestled on the Niagara River in the Niagara Region of Canada. It's directly across the river from Buffalo, New York, and is home to the historic Old Fort Erie, a significant site during the War of 1812. Today, Fort Erie is one of Niagara's fastest-growing communities, boasting a blend of residential and commercial development.

The History of Fort Erie, Ontario

During the American Revolution, Fort Erie served as a supply depot for British troops. Post-war, the area was settled by soldiers from Butler's Rangers and named Bertie Township in 1784. The original fort, built in 1764, was located on the Niagara River's edge below the present fort. It served as a supply depot and a port for ships transporting merchandise, troops, and passengers via Lake Erie to the Upper Great Lakes.

The fort was damaged by winter storms, and in 1803, plans were made for a new fort on the higher ground behind the original. It was larger and made of flintstone but was not quite finished at the start of the War of 1812. During the war, the Americans attacked Fort Erie twice in 1812, captured and abandoned it in 1813, and then recaptured it in 1814. The Americans held it for a time, breaking a prolonged British siege. Later they destroyed Fort Erie and returned to Buffalo in the winter of 1814.

The Fort Erie area became a major terminus for slaves using the Underground Railroad (between 1840 and 1860); many had crossed into Canada from Buffalo, New York. Bertie Hall (which was used for a time in the 20th century as a Doll House Museum) may have been a stopping point on the Underground Railroad. The area of Ridgemount was one of the three main areas in Fort Erie settled by African-Americans, earning it the name "Little Africa". Along with Little Africa, the other two areas of settlement were Bertie Hill and Snake Hill (Erie Beach).

In 1866, during the Fenian raids, between 1,000 and 1,500 Fenians crossed the Niagara River, occupied the town and demanded food and horses. The only payment they were able to offer was Fenian bonds; these were not acceptable to the citizens. The Fenians then cut the telegraph wires and tore up some railway tracks. Afterwards, they marched to Chippewa and the next day to Ridgeway where they fought the Battle of Ridgeway, a series of skirmishes with the Canadian militia. The Fenians then returned to Fort Erie and fought the Battle of Fort Erie, defeating the Canadian militia. Fearing British reinforcements, they then decided to retreat to the U.S.

Geography of Fort Erie, Ontario

Fort Erie is generally flat, but there are low sand hills, varying in height from 2 to 15 metres (6.6 to 49.2 ft), along the shore of Lake Erie, and a limestone ridge extends from Point Abino to near Miller's Creek, giving Ridgeway its name. The soil is shallow, with a clay subsoil. The town's beaches on Lake Erie, most notably Erie Beach, Crystal Beach and Bay Beach are considered the best in the area and draw many weekend visitors from the Toronto and Buffalo, New York areas. While summers are enjoyable, winters can occasionally be fierce, with many snowstorms, whiteouts and winds coming off Lake Erie.

Communities in Fort Erie, Ontario

In addition to the primary urban core of Fort Erie, the town also contains the neighbourhoods of Black Creek, Bridgeburg/NorthEnd/Victoria, Crescent Park, Crystal Beach, Kraft, Point Abino, Ridgeway, Snyder, and Stevensville. Smaller and historical neighbourhoods include Amigari Downs, Bay Beach, Buffalo Heights, Douglastown, Edgewood Park, Erie Beach, Garrison Village, Mulgrave, Oakhill Forest, Ridgemount, Ridgewood, Rose Hill Estates, Thunder Bay, Walden, Wavecrest and Waverly Beach.

Attractions in Fort Erie, Ontario

Fort Erie is home to several attractions that draw visitors from near and far. The Fort Erie Race Track, Old Fort Erie, Point Abino Lighthouse, and Safari Niagara are among the most popular. The town is also the eastern terminus of the Friendship Trail, and the southern terminus of the Niagara River Recreation Pathway, both part of the Trans-Canada Trail system.

Parks in Fort Erie, Ontario

Mather Arch Park, located just to the south of the Peace Bridge, is on land donated by American citizen Alonzo C. Mather in tribute to the peace and friendship between Canada and the United States. The park contains Mather Arch, which was built largely due to donations by Mather, originally dedicated by the Niagara Parks Commission in 1939, and restored in 2000 as a millennium project. There is also a memorial statue to those from Fort Erie who died in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.

Demographics of Fort Erie, Ontario

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Fort Erie had a population of 32,901 living in 14,081 of its 15,875 total private dwellings, a change of 7.1% from its 2016 population of 30,710. With a land area of 166.24 km2 (64.19 sq mi), it had a population density of 197.9/km2 (512.6/sq mi) in 2021.The median household income in 2015 for Fort Erie was $60,800, which was below the Ontario provincial average of $74,287.

Infrastructure and Utilities in Fort Erie, Ontario

In order to reduce large-scale ice blockage in the Niagara River, with resultant flooding, ice damage to docks and other waterfront structures, and blockage of the water intakes for the hydro-electric power plants at Niagara Falls, the New York Power Authority and Ontario Power Generation have jointly operated the Lake Erie-Niagara River Ice Boom since 1964. The boom is installed on December 16, or when the water temperature reaches 4 °C (39 °F), whichever happens first. The boom is opened on April 1 unless there is more than 650 square kilometres (250 sq mi) of ice remaining in Eastern Lake Erie. When in place, the boom stretches 2,680 metres (8,790 ft) from the outer breakwall at Buffalo Harbor almost to the Canadian shore near the ruins of the pier at Erie Beach in Fort Erie. Originally, the boom was made of wooden timbers, but these have been replaced by steel pontoons.