A Strategic Location
You are standing at Mississauga Point where the Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario. Long ago the lakes and rivers were military supply and transportation routes and forts were built to protect them.
The large stone fort across the river is Fort Niagara. The French built a fort here in 1687, and the present one was begun in 1720. In August 1759 the British captured the fort after a lengthy seige. Prideaux and Johnston streets in Niagara-on-the-Lake are named after the two successful commanders. In 1796, Fort Niagara was turned over to the United States, by the terms of Jay's Treaty. The Niagara River now marked the boundary between the British colony and the United States, and cannons from the American fort easily commanded the mouth of the river. You are standing within range of those cannons from long ago.
As early as 1790 Mississauga Point had been identified as the location for a fort. Plans for a battery of 14 cannons to oppose Fort Niagara date from 1799. Instead, the first lighthouse on the Great Lakes was built here in 1804 and Fort George was built farther upstream.
The Battle of Fort George
Some of the fiercest fighting of the War of 1812 occurred during the Battle of Fort George in May 1813. The British and Canadians, together with Aboriginal peoples allied with them, fought to oppose an American landing on Lake Ontario.
Fearing that the lighthouse might be filled with explosives, the Americans landed near Two Mile Creek, several miles to the west.
An artillery battery manned by Canadian militia was located near this spot during the battle. It was overwhelmed by cannon fire from two US vessels, the USS Julia, and the USS Growler, at point blank range.
After the battle, the defeated British withdrew to a fortified position at Burlington Heights, and the Americans gained a base on the Niagara Peninsula. Checked at the battles of Stoney Creek, and Beaver Dams, the Americans were unable to take advantage of their victory. US forces were pinned down in Newark, which they burned and abandoned on 10 December, 1813.