Fort Niagara’s Scottish Connection

Since I do have a few Scottish readers, I thought I would share a little tidbit I found…..

In 1813, the British defeated American forces at Fort Niagara. As was tradition, the American flag was captured and presented to the Prince Regent (George IV). He later returned the flag to one Sir Gordon Drummond, who had commanded the troops in charge of the capture. The flag was found at Drummond’s ancestral home in Scotland, where it remained until purchased in 1994 by the Old Fort Niagara Association.

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This photo is horrible, but there are several reasons for that. One of them is that the lighting in the flag case is very dim, as light causes irreparable damage to fabric. That should have been enough of a challenge, but those high windows in the building cause another challenge.  So, please accept my apologies!

I Have Visited a Castle!

Well….not “really”…but, close!

Those clever French built this impressive building in 1726….the building was made to resemble a “house” so as to pacify the Iroquois Indians. The structure, however, was built to withstand any attack from the natives. It wasn’t actually termed “castle” until the 1800’s.

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Upon entering the “castle” which was the first structure built at Fort Niagara, one sees this 25′ deep well. In the 1800’s, it was filled in and its use was discontinued. However, it was rediscovered in the 1900’s and brought back to life when the building was restored to its 1700’s appearance.

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The building offered a trading post….not too hard to comprehend, since our animated Redcoat (the young man mentioned two posts ago) revealed to us that officers were allowed to have their wives accompany them here. We all know how women love to shop, right?

There was a downside to officers’ wives living here. In the event that the officer died from battle or even perhaps illness, the wife was given two weeks….yes, two *weeks*….to remarry another officer, or she was turned out of the fort to find her own way! Rather scary…

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Known as the boulangerie, this was the French military kitchen…

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Being a very strategic location, the British (even more clever than the French in that they befriended the Iroquois and then used their help to defeat the French!) fought the French and took over the fort in 1759….

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This crest is found on every building in the fort. (why did the British use French to state “God and my right”?)

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I took this photo, as Mark was so amazed at the structure of this building….the walls are so prefect and perfectly straight. It seems hard to imagine in a building nearly 300 years old!

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On the second floor, there is a Jesuit Chapel. This, I read, was the earliest church established in the nation.

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This would be the quarters of the commanding officer. He was provided with a rather comfortable room, comparatively speaking. He was also surrounded by more “creature comforts” than the other men…

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Commanding officer’s dining room….

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Officer’s room…

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On the top floor of the “castle” is a plaque in memory of Fanny Doyle. She was the wife of an officer who, during “tremendous cannoning” during the War of 1812,(America versus the British) worked alongside the troops, loading cannons.  She is considered a heroine of the war.

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The expansive third floor of the “castle”….

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Complete with keyhole-shaped windows that were just the right size to allow a muskat to fit through….

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In descending down to the second floor, we came across a room where troops slept….

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It is really so impressive to take this step back in time and see such key “building blocks” in the history of America.  The fort also has a gift shop and wonderfully informative museum on its premises. Ben and Mark went in and watched a movie about the history of Fort Niagara.  As they were watching the movie, “troops” began moving in! This, however, was a Boy Scout troop! The fort does “educational” services, including allowing this Boy Scout troop to spend a night in the castle! How cool would THAT be?

The downside to this excursion was that although the temperatures were not exceedingly hot, the humidity was astronomical!

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No filters on that photo…just 100% “Yankee” humidity! It is a strange contrast to visit such an old historical sight and see modern day watercraft passing by!

Inside the Bunker at Fort Niagara

Carly asked if we went down inside the bunker at Old Fort Niagara. And the answer is, oh yes! Please note that these photos are not the greatest, but they give you a feel for just how it was inside….that is, damp and dark!

There were two flights of stairs going down….

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If there was an opening large enough to allow a cannon ball or human to enter, there was a cannon poised and ready to fire at that opening! I am assuming the door located on the left was where cannon balls were stored.

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Although these bunkers were technically not underground….they were built in mounds that were built up above the ground…..they certainly resembled an underground structure. At first, the bunker felt so good, as though it was air-conditioned.  That was a great relief from the high humidity outside. However, as I looked at the floor, it became obvious that if one was to spend a great deal of time in this bunker, they might be subject to illnesses or diseases that inhabit cool, damp places. There were spots on the floor that actually had slick places where moisture had built up from the ground!

These windows resembled “slits”, allowing fresh air to enter, but no cannon balls…..or, humans!

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The floor throughout the bunker looked as though it was made of the same type of clay bricks are formed from. It was so nice, although there were slight discrepancies in elevation, causing one to tread with some care!

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I have a tendency to feel claustrophobic in tight spaces so I was a little reluctant to enter this one. However, the bunker was really not a tight space at all. It had sufficient fresh air and light to make the experience quite interesting! If I had any comments to make, regarding making the fort more tour-friendly, it would be to add storyboards throughout areas to make the areas come “to life”!

Old Fort Niagara

Old Fort Niagara isn’t too distant from Niagara Falls and certainly connects with some of the United States’ earliest history. There is now a great park located at the fort and the area is buzzing with all varieties of activity…..

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The map below shows exactly why the French, then British, were very interested in obtaining control over this particular area. The fort overlooks both Lake Ontario (one of the Great Lakes) and the Niagara River.

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The yellow rectangles located on the above map signify the 18 soccer fields located at the park. There are also significant picnicking areas located at the park, as well as the fort itself!

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The photo below is of Le Chateau Francais….”the French Castle”. Needless to say, the structure was built by the French. It was then overtaken by the British.  I will post an entry regarding the “castle” on its own.  The following are scenes around the fort….

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This young man was the most animated, entertaining fellow who seems to greatly enjoy his work.  Dressed as a British redcoat, he spewed forth all sorts of information, including that the wool from which his uniform was fashioned weighed in at about 13 pounds. That is an overwhelming fact considering the amount of humidity we were experiencing  in June! I cannot imagine how warm that outfit would become in August heat! Or, for that matter, how cold it would be when the January winds howl off Lake Ontario!

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Lighthouse at Old Fort Niagara

I have been so tired since returning from our outing. It seems like there is a great deal of truth about needing a vacation AFTER a vacation! There are so many little tasks that need attention and although small, they do take some time…

I have decided to break my photos into a few entries rather than a couple of large ones.  This first one deals with the lighthouse at Old Fort Niagara. This point was of great value to the French, as the waterways here would lead to western parts of the new world. French fur traders used these important waters to transport their goods back to the old world.

As a small child, I longed to make my home in either a lighthouse or a fire tower. Thus, I still have a deep love for such structures. Would I still want to live in a lighthouse? You betcha! And this one, built in 1871, would be a beauty to live in as it looks across the river into Canada!

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I love storyboards, and the area we visited abounded in them. The campground we stayed at had them near the lake and trails. It is so handy to be able to read information regarding sights nearby without taking in too much information and going into overload!

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Okay, So One More Photo…

On Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, Mark and I were enjoying watching the Buffalo Sabres Hockey training camp. This was so much fun, as we got to see many prospects for the team…young men with such hope in their eyes.

The Sabres head coach, Lindy Ruff, was there working with these guys and it was a treat to see him as well.  One of the things I have noticed about Lindy is that during games, it is pretty hard to see him ever “crack a smile”. He really does wear his “game face” which turns into a smile when the team wins and congratulations are spoken!

As I was photographing the drills the guys were working on, I also caught a few photos of Lindy as well. I was quite pleased by one, however, as he is smiling!

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Spectacular Scenery

I have about a zillion photos to weed through, from our wonderful little outing, although many of them involve hockey and I don’t imagine those would thrill too many of my readers!

This morning, we packed up, hitched up the little home on wheels and left our campground, which was home the past few days.

Mark discovered last night, that Fort Niagara was located only a short distance from where we had been camping, so we ventured on to have a looksee.  We drove along Lake Ontario, and some of the homes were palacial mansions.  One of the homes we passed looked like a huge almost “office building”, crossed with a Frank Lloyd Wright hybrid. It had enormous gates in front, keeping out the riff-raff! (no photos, as I feel “funny” doing such things!)

Across the road from this most astonishing home was a most astonishing barn which reflected much the same type of architecture. I never saw anything like it. But, there was a sign declaring “Visitors by Appointment Only” which led me to believe that perhaps their horses were just as special as the barn which houses them! (I know, SHOULD have photographed the barn!)

So, I will offer these two photos I took this morning, as I am getting cross-eyed looking at other photos!

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Anyone have any idea what breed these horses are?

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Greetings From the Shores of Lake Ontario

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This is last night’s sunset….very pretty!

We are off on an excursion.

The Buffalo Sabres are having their training camp….being held at Niagara University.  It is very beautiful here right across from the Canadian border.  We are hold up near where the French and Indian War took place….no wonder the French didn’t win….the cell reception is wickedly irregular!

We watched yesterday’s skate with great interest.  I will post more and more photos once we are in a better recetion area…..

Prayers of Thanksgiving!

Yesterday, the kids and I went to a graduation party for one of their friends who just graduated from school.  It was a lovely party….the family hosting the party had obviously put a great deal of energy into getting everything ready.  The father has planted a great deal of various vegetation in the gardens and they are just picture-perfect.

As I was enjoying speaking to some others, my cell phone rang and my mother was on the line.  She called to tell me that the pacemaker/defibrillator that my father had implanted last year had given him a problem….he had received information a few months ago that the unit could have problems.

Yesterday morning, my father said he received four good “jolts” as the defibrillator went off!  My parents drove to the hospital and he was examined in the emergency room.  He was sent up to telemetry where the nurses kept a close eye on his moniters. (the defibrillator was turned off!)  It was discovered that the leads (wiring) in the unit were arcing, causing the defibrillator to go off!  The doctor that examined my father said that it was bad news, as the surgeon would have to rewire the unit. This, my parents were told, is a very serious surgery. My heart sank….

My mother arose early today and drove almost an hour to the hospital, unaware as to what would happen next. In the meantime, the cardiologist had ordered “pictures” of my father’s heart. (My father assumed this would show the problem with the faulty wires)  The cardiologist came into my father’s room and announced some fantastic news! He told my father that the “pictures” showed that his heart is stronger and healthier now than it was last year when the unit was installed! 

The entire strategy was then reformulated….the defibrillator on the unit would be programmed to no longer function, as it is not needed, and the pacemaker would continue to work. My father was so relieved, as he was released from the hospital as soon as the unit was reprogrammed. Thank you, Lord!

Since discovering that some units were defective and malfunctioning, the doctors had my father set up a modem that sends vital stats to a place where they are monitered. Every time he walks within ten feet of the modem, the stats are sent and recorded.

So, now that a rather precarious situation has been resolved (very satisfactorily), here is an offering of several photos I took today…(hope you enjoy!)

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