Fort Henry, Ontario
Fort Henry (also known as Fort Henry National Historic Site) is located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada on Point Henry, a strategic point located near the mouth of the Cataraqui River where it flows into the St. Lawrence River, at the upper end of the Thousand Islands. The original fort was constructed during the War of 1812, when present-day Ontario was a British colony known as Upper Canada. The British anticipated the possibility of a United States attack on Point Henry due to its proximity to the Kingston Royal Naval Dockyards (the site of the present-day Royal Military College of Canada). The loss of this vital shipping route would have cut off supplies to Kingston and the rest of Upper Canada. The present Fort Henry was constructed between 1832 and 1837 to protect the Lake Ontario end of the Rideau Canal. (The canal was part of an alternate route between Kingston and Montreal that bypassed the St. Lawrence River, which separates Canada and the United States.) A system of more elaborate defensive works was planned but cost overruns in the construction of the canal limited the fortifications to four Martello towers and the fort itself. At the time, these fortifications were the strongest defences in Canada west of Quebec City. Among the historic regiments that garrisoned the fort were the Black Watch, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Neither the original nor the second Fort Henry was ever attacked. The British Army withdrew in 1870 shortly after Canadian Confederation. Canadian troops then garrisoned the fort until 1891. The fort witnessed the founding of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, one of the first units in the Canadian Army, whose B battery was based at the fort. As relations with the United States continued to improve, the need for defences along the border ceased. During the First World War Fort Henry served as a facility for holding Ukrainian detainees. Abandoned by the military, the fort fell into disrepair. In the 1930s, under the leadership of Ronald L. Way, restorations took place as part of a government work program during the Great Depression. "Old Fort Henry" became a living museum with the introduction of the Fort Henry Guard, and was opened on August 1, 1938. During the Second World War, the fort served as a prisoner-of-war camp for German Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine personnel.

The fort today
Today, the fort is a major tourist attraction in the Kingston area. Uniformed military interpreters known as the Fort Henry Guard staff the fort, conducting demonstrations of British military life and tours for visitors. There are also self-guided tours. Throughout the day there are various activities including historical reenactments of drills and battle tactics, the Garrison Parade, the Victorian School Room, and the Muster Parade, where young visitors are dressed in period uniforms and taught to march by a qualified member of the Guard. There is also a Sunset Ceremony every Wednesday in July and August, where a full program of historic drill, music and artillery is presented. Fort Henry has been designated as a National Historic Site of Canada, and in 2007 was included in the designation of the Rideau Canal as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One can also view from Cartwright Point (the location of the Cathcart Tower). Significant restoration of the fort is underway after years of financial neglect by the provincial and federal governments that necessitated closing areas of the fort to the public. The work on the northeast wall and soldiers barracks, as well as the quartermaster is complete, and restoration of the east ditch tower is progressing, with an estimated completion date of May 2009.

The Museum is affiliated with: Canadian Museums Association, Canadian Heritage Information Network, and Virtual Museum of Canada.


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