Since 1901, the Niagara Historical Society has been commemorating important historical events and places in the communities of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The monuments were made of Queenston limestone by James Monroe of Marbleworks in St. Catharines.
Raising of the Niagara Light Dragoons
The Niagara Light Dragoons were a militia cavalry troop, headed by Major Thomas Merritt, which supported the infantry forces during the War of 1812.
Plaque Transcription: "TO COMMEMORATE THE RAISING OF THE/ NIAGARA LIGHT DRAGOONS/ WHICH FIRST ASSEMBLED FOR SERVICE/ AT THIS SPOT ON 28 JUNE 1812/ ENGAGEMENT OF CORPS FORT ERIE 9 OCTOBER 1812/ QUEENSTON 13 OCT 1812/ MAJOR THOMAS MERRITT COMMANDANT"
During the War of 1812 Brown’s Point was used as a camp by the Canadian York Militia. This was the spot where Major General Sir Isaac Brock is believed to have said his famous words, “Push on York Volunteers!” as he charged into Queenston on October 13, 1812. Plaque Transcription: "PLACED HERE BY THE NIAGARA/ HISTORICAL SOCIETY 1915/ BROWN'S POINT/ [HERE] GEN. SIR ISAAC BROCK/ CALLED OUT HIS WAY TO/ QUEENSTON HEIGHTS/ 13TH OCT. 1812/ PUSH ON YORK VOLUNTEERS"
Grave of Brock 1812-1824
Following his courageous charge at the Battle of Queenston Heights, which led to his death, Brock's body was taken to Niagara, where he lay in state at government house for three days. Then, on October 16, 1812, he was buried in the Bastion at Fort George, where he lay undisturbed for twelve years. In 1824, the first Brock's Monument was finally complete, and his body was buried beneath it.
Plaque Transcription: "PLACED HERE BY THE NIAGARA/ HISTORICAL SOCIETY/ THIS MARKS/ THE SPOT WHERE/ GEN. ISAAC/ BROCK/ WAS BURIED FROM/ 1812 TO 1824"
Battle of Fort George - Three Soldiers
Fort George was little more than a few small buildings in 1792. Upon the arrival of Governor Simcoe and the loss of Fort Niagara to the Americans, it developed greatly in 1794-96. More development was made by General Sir Isaac Brock prior to the War of 1812.On May 27, 1813, the Americans invaded Fort George. The Battle of Fort George lasted for three days, resulting in the deaths of 58-107 British soldiers and 41 American soldiers. This plaque was placed to commemorate the location of where three young soldiers were found after falling in battle. Plaque Transcription: "PLACED HERE BY THE NIAGARA HISTORICAL SOCIETY HERE WERE FOUND [IN] [AUGUST 1889] THE REMAINS OF THREE SOLDIERS WHO FELL ON 27TH MAY 1813 IN DEFENCE OF OUR COUNTRY"
This history of this stone building, once an important military facility, begins in 1765 when Fort Niagara across the Niagara River was in British hands. Due to over-crowding, the British began to develop some facilities across the river, including a barracks and several storehouses. By 1778, the buildings here were collectively known as ‘Navy Hall.’
In 1792, John Graves Simcoe arrived to establish Niagara [Niagara-on-the-Lake] as the capital of Upper Canada, which he called Newark. Originally housed in tents on the Navy Hall site, Lieutenant Governor Simcoe eventually refurbished several of the buildings (which had fallen into disrepair) for his purposes.
Navy Hall was destroyed by American artillery during the War of 1812. After the war, Navy Hall was gradually rebuilt, and one of these buildings is what survives today. Plaque Transcription: “NAVY HALL,/ ONE OF FOUR BUILDINGS CALLED NAVY HALL 1787,/ ONE WAS ALTERED FOR GOV. SIMCOE 1792,/ HE HAD ONE BELIEVED TO BE THIS ONE/ PREPARED FOR PARLIAMENT 1792,/ CALLED RED BARRACKS 1840, MOVED UP 1864/ ALMOST A RUIN 1911,/ RESTORED BY GRANT OF DOMINION GOV. 1912,/ BY PETITION OF/NIAGARA HISTORICAL SOCIETY.”
Gleaner Printing and Masonic Hall
The history of Freemasonry in Niagara is as old as the town itself – with the first lodge being established in 1791 at the foot of present-day King Street. The original wooden building was one of the first buildings in the town, the other was a public house located next-door. In December 1813, this first lodge was burned, along with the rest of the town, by American soldiers and Canadian turncoats as they abandoned the town. Around 1816, the present building was constructed on the same spot as the destroyed lodge, this time out of stone rather than wood.
By 1817, The Gleaner newspaper, published by Andrew Heron, established itself next to the lodge. The Gleaner was in operation from 1817 until 1837, and at one point was the longest running newspaper in Upper Canada. Plaque Transcription: "PLACED HERE BY THE NIAGARA/ HISTORICAL SOCIETY/ THE SITE [OF] THE/ [GLEANOR] PRINTING [...]/ [ALSO] [...]/ MASONIC HALL/ 1792"
Parliament Oak School
This plaque placed at (the former) Parliament Oak Elementary School marks a probable, although not confirmed, meeting location of the legislative assembly of Upper Canada in 1792. Plaque Transcription: "PLACED HERE BY THE NIAGARA/ HISTORICAL SOCIETY/ ON THIS SPOT/ STOOD THE/ PARLIAMENT OAK/ UNDER WHICH THE/ EARLY LEGISLATORS/ SAT ON [ONE] DAY IN SEPTEMBER 1792"
Niagara Court House
The motivation for building a new courthouse was due to the fear that St. Catharines would replace Niagara as the seat of government for the united counties of Lincoln, Welland and Haldimand. Hoping that the new building would cement Niagara’s place as the centre of civic importance in the Region, the new courthouse was constructed starting in 1846 and completed in 1847.
Plaque Transcription: "NIAGARA COURTHOUSE/ BUILT IN 1847/ FOR THE UNITED COUNTIES/ OF LINCOLN, WELLAND,/ AND HALDIMAND,/ THIS INSCRIPTION IS PLACED HERE BY THE/ NIAGARA HISTORICAL SOCIETY/ 1902"
Government House and Market Building
The government house (not to be confused with Government House), was built in 1793-94 and was the home of David W. Smith, the Provincial Surveyor General of Upper Canada. In 1798 the house, located in the block bounded by King, Queen, Regent and Johnson Streets in present-day Niagara-on-the-lake, was purchased from Smith as quarters for the Commanding Officer at Fort George. At one time this was the residence of Major General Sir Isaac Brock, who upon his death, laid in state here until his burial service on October 16, 1812. Plaque Transcription: "PLACED HERE BY THE NIAGARA/ HISTORICAL SOCIETY/ NEAR THIS SPOT STOOD/ THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE/ BUILT IN THE TIME OF/ GOV. SIMCOE/ BURNT/ IN THE WAR [OF 1812]"
Military Hospital and Indian Council House
In the late 1790s, an Indian Council House was built on the Commons. Every year, hundreds and sometimes thousands of members of the Six Nations met in Niagara for negotiations and the annual presentation of gifts. The end of the War of 1812 marked a shift in Indian Policy because the British stopped cultivating military alliances with the Six Nations. The Six Nations would travel to Toronto or Burlington to receive their annual gifts. The tradition of receiving gifts in Niagara would occasionally occur into the 1830s, but the building became the Military Hospital for the headquarters of the Canadian and British Army. Transcription: "THIS IS THE SITE OF/ THE MILITARY HOSPITAL/ AND/ INDIAN COUNCIL/ HOUSE"
Henry Paffard was Lord Mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake for 26 years. He served three terms in office: 1863-1874, 1875-1880 and 1888-1896. As of 2018, he is still Niagara-on-the-Lake's longest-serving Mayor. Paffard was involved in many aspects of the Niagara community including being an officer on the public library, vice-president of the Historical Society, and supported the creation of a local fire department. He was also a successful horticulturalist and was a driving force behind the planting a number of trees in Town. Plaque Transcription: "IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF/ HENRY PAFFARD/ 1824-1912./ FOR 26 YEARS MAYOR OF NIAGARA, 45 YEARS/ AN OFFICER OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY AND/ 10 YEARS VICE PRESIDENT OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY/ AND ONE WHOSE GOOD TASTE AND ENERGY/ WE OWE THE BEAUTIFUL TREES ON OUR STREETS AND IN OUR PARK. PLACED HERE BY THE NIAGARA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 1924."
House of Comte de Puisaye
Joseph-Geneviève, Comte de Puisaye was charged with colluding with the British Government and betraying the cause of France. In 1797, he applied to the British Government to form a Royalist settlement in Canada, and a year later he and 41 others sailed from England to establish a French-speaking settlement outside of Quebec. Records (including letters between the Comte and Robert Hamilton and Richard Cartwright) indicate that the Comte had moved and built a residence in Niagara by 1799. He remained in Niagara until 1802. Today, the house still remains, however, only a portion of the building is original.
Plaque Transcription: "PLACED HERE BY THE NIAGARA/ HISTORICAL SOCIETY/ THE BUILDING NEAR/ IS HALF OF THAT/ BUILT BY THE/ COUNT DE PUISAYE/ A FRENCH REFUGE/ ABOUT 1800"
Niagara Historical Society - Simcoe Park
The Niagara Historical Society was established in 1895 to collect and preserve historical records and artefacts from the Niagara district and to promote the study of local history and heritage.Janet Carnochan (1839-1926) helped found the Niagara Historical Society in 1895 and functioned as its President from 1895 to 1925. She avidly promoted and contributed to Niagara's written history, and established the Society's core functions, including publishing, researching, collecting, and providing access to information regarding the Niagara region, as well as educating the public about Niagara's historical significance. To commemorate the Societies 100th anniversary a plaque was erected in Simcoe Park with a tree dedicated in the same honour. Plaque Transcription: "1895- Niagara Historical Society - 1995/ On December 12th, 1895/ a group of dedicated/ persons founded the/ Niagara Historical Society. This tree was planted in/ 1995 to commemorate the/ 100th Anniversary of the/ Society."
A special thank you to Elaine Jones, our 2018 Young Canada Works Summer Student, for working on this exhibit.