Fort Wellington (1813-1869) - A British War of 1812 fort established in 1813 on the west bank of the St. Lawrence River in present day Prescott, Ontario, Canada. On the U.S. - Canada border, directly across the river from Ogdensburg, New York. Abandoned in 1869.
War of 1812 (1812-1814)
When America declared war on Great Britain on 18 Jun 1812 neither side was prepared for a conflict. The British in Canada were fearful of an invasion by Americans and fortifications were started at strategic points along the border. Prescott, Ontario, was one of the strategic locations, being very close to the U.S. and a vital transshipping point along the St. Lawrence River.
Fort Wellington was built in 1813-1814 as an earthworks fort with a one story wooden blockhouse and casemates in the earthworks for storage. The fort was completed in December 1814, the same month the war ended. The fort was garrisoned for several years after the end of the war but the completion of the Rideau Canal in 1832 provided an alternate route from Montreal to Kingston and the garrison was removed.
Canadian Rebellion (1837-1838)
Canada, at the time, was divided into Upper and Lower Canada and in 1837 rebellions broke out in both sections. Many of the rebels were forced to flee to the United States where they found sympathizers. The threat of an invasion from America loomed again and Fort Wellington was ordered rebuilt. The threat proved to be real and the rebels invaded November 1838 at Windmill Point, just north of the incomplete Fort Wellington. After four days the rebels surrendered and Fort Wellington was safe. The reconstruction of Fort Wellington was completed in 1839, about the time the rebellion was winding down.
The fort remained garrisoned by regular British soldiers on and off until Canadian Confederation and the departure of British troops in 1871. Following the British troop withdrawal Fort Wellington was used as a militia depot through World War I. The fort was declared a National Historic Site in 1923.
Must See! Part of Fort Wellington National Historic Site, Prescott, Ontario, Canada. The fort has been restored to its 1840s appearance. Mounted cannons and mortars on the grounds. Three original buildings have been restored and furnished with period items, they include the massive 1838-1839 blockhouse, the circa 1839 Officer's Quarters and the 1839 Latrine. The campnniere is in excellent condition and interesting from the inside and outside. The surrounding log palisade and the earthworks with its horizontal log fraise are in excellent shape.
The centerpiece of the fort is the massive original three story blockhouse. The first floor of the blockhouse contains period storerooms and the magazine. On the 2nd and 3rd floors barracks life is depicted with re-enactors portraying the soldiers and their families. The upper floor single enlisted barracks is complete with grating in the overhang so that soldiers could fire down on attackers. The restored officers quarters includes elaborate furnishings in the commanding officer's quarters.
Don't miss the visitor center, it has the remains of a recovered bateau (river boat) in a separate room. The Fort Wellington Walking Tour brochure is very well done, make sure you get one to guide your visit.
Nearby is the Battle of the Windmill National Historic site just north of Fort Wellington on Highway 2.
Visited: 29 Jul 2012
Fort Wellington Picture Gallery