Niagara Gazette — It was June 18, 1812, when Congress declared war on Great Britain and now today two of the major antagonists from that three-year encounter are commemorating the peace they have shared for the last two centuries.
On both sides of the border, the U.S. and Canada (British North America in the 19th century) are marking the milestone with special events next weekend at numerous historic sites including Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown and Queenston Heights in Canada.
The Niagara 1812 Bicentennial Legacy Council, created to showcase nearly 20 events in the Buffalo-Niagara area and on the Niagara Peninsula in southwestern Ontario, is a key planner of the activities.
Opening ceremonies to commemorate the “Declaration of the War” is set for Saturday at Old Fort Niagara and in Queenston.
At the fort, events starting with a flag ceremony at 10 a.m. will include a special tour of the site, a musket firing demonstration, recruiting and kids drills, a hot shot demonstration, and volunteers raising a 28-by-24-foot replica of the Fort Niagara Garrison Colors at the U.S. Coast Guard Station-Niagara. The original flag that the British captured in 1813 was found in Scotland years ago and is now displayed at the fort visitors center.
Bob Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara, said that a highlight of the afternoon program will be the dedication of the new Betsy Doyle Exhibit Panel. Doyle, known as “Fanny,” was the wife of a captured American artillery officer who took part in the War of 1812 fighting —at times even firing a fort cannon — and then seemed to vanish. In her in-depth research, Niagara County Historian Catherine Emerson found that Doyle escaped the fall of Fort Niagara in 1813 and hiked some 300 miles to an American military camp near Albany where she worked as an army nurse until her death in 1819.