This year, make time to learn about the history of this area by visiting several museums and historical sites marking the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812’s Battle of Lundy’s Lane as well as 200 years of peace between Canada and the United States.
On July 5-6, the Battle of Chippawa will be re-enacted, followed by a two-stage event remembering the Battle of Lundy’s Lane on July 25. Both are open for public participation. If you plan your trip to fall on other days, here’s a guide to Niagara Falls accommodations and attractions that will let you commemorate the anniversary and learn about the military history of Niagara throughout the year.
Niagara Falls History Museum
After a $12 million renovation and expansion, the Niagara Falls History Museum reopened in July 2012, offering visitors the chance to literally try on history. Guests can wear a War of 1812 replica uniform, build a bridge spanning the Niagara Gorge or practice walking a tightrope. The museum also features the Gale Family War of 1812 Gallery, which houses one of Canada’s best War of 1812 collections, and the Community Gallery, which features the people, culture, industry, geology and daredevils of Niagara Falls. The museum is located in the Old Stamford Town Hall, built in 1874. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, and the admission is: adults, $5; students, $4; children under 6, free.
Laura Secord House
The Laura Secord House was home to Canada’s most famous heroine from 1803 to 1835. During the War of 1812, she traveled 20 miles — an 18-hour journey on foot — to warn the British of a planned surprise attack by the Americans in June 1813. The homestead was restored and furnished with original furniture in 1971. Costumed interpreters provide visitors with guided tours, sharing information about the house and history of the area. The house is open daily May through September and admission is adults, $9.50; children, $6.25; children 5 and under, free.
Lundy’s Lane Battlefield/Drummond Hill Cemetery
The Battle of Lundy's Lane, considered the "bloodiest battle" during the War of 1812, was fought on Drummond Hill on July 25, 1814. The Drummond Hill Cemetery has since become a nationally-recognized heritage site. During this battle, 876 British and Canadian soldiers as well as 861 American soldiers were killed, wounded or captured. The burial site of Canada’s famous Laura Secord can also be found in the cemetery. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the four-acre battlefield and cemetery. Admission is free.
Visitors are welcomed on a self-guided walking tour at the Chippawa Battlefield, which retraces events of the battle where the Americans defeated the British on July 5, 1814. Acquired in 1995, the Niagara Parks Commission has preserved 300 acres of pristine battlefield, the last remaining site from the War of 1812. Admission is free.
Battle Ground Hotel Museum
The Battle Ground Hotel Museum is located on the grounds of the Lundy’s Lane Battlefield and is the only illustration of a 19th-century inn that was established to commemorate the War of 1812. The restored 1850s tavern features furnished period rooms, including a ladies parlor, foyer, tap room and kitchen, as well as relics from the War of 1812. The museum is open Friday through Sunday. Admission is by donation.
Willoughby Historical Museum
The Willoughby Historical Museum is housed in a former one-room schoolhouse with exhibits describing the intricacies and experiences of those participating in the War of 1812. The museum also hosts two interactive exhibits — guests are invited to weave on a loom or connect a call through a working operating system. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is by donation.
Laura Secord monument image by BellaEatsBooks from Flickr’s Creative Commons