Throughout an early autumn bike journey out to the Niagara Parkway I stumbled onto the Ridgeway Battlefield Website.
At present, it’s a Nationwide Historic Website of Canada and one of many extra distinctive navy sights close to Niagara Falls.
Personally, I’m a fan of the Warfare of 1812 and the entire historical past surrounding that. After all I used to be within the Battle of Ridgeway Park after I handed by.
At first I used to be shocked by the standard and element put into the signage and amenities right here on the park.
On this submit we’ll check out what you’ll be able to anticipate visiting the Ridgeway Battlefield Website and a fast primer on the Fenian historical past right here in Ontario.
Who Are the Fenians?
The Fenians had been members of various Irish nationalist organizations within the UK, Canada, and the US.
The group grew to become in style with the rise of the push for Irish independence from the British.
They didn’t maintain any grudges towards Canadians personally and their goal was to push Britain into granting Eire their very own independence.
The identify “Fenian” was coined by their very own founder, John O’Mahony, after the traditional Irish warriors generally known as the “Fianna Eirionn”.
For probably the most half, the Fenian’s had been made up of veterans and younger Irishman with an intense sense of nationalist delight.
The result of the Fenian raids in Canada result in the provinces becoming a member of collectively in a confederation. This may result in forming the Dominion of Canada in 1867.
What Occurred on the Battle of Ridgeway?
The Battle of Ridgeway is an attention-grabbing and vital a part of Canadian historical past.
On June 1st 1866, a gaggle of Fenian raiders crossed the Niagara River from Buffalo.
These had been largely Irish-American veterans of the U.S. Civil Warfare and had the expertise to launch a small-scale assault on Canada.
Their purpose was to power Britain to present Eire its independence. The Fenians weren’t interested by capturing Canada.
As a substitute they had been hoping to succeed by inciting violence and scaring the native inhabitants.
There was no resistance as they crossed the Niagara River with greater than 1,300 males touchdown close to Fort Erie.
At this level the Canadians had been conscious of the invasion. A number of militias had been shortly put collectively to defend towards the Fenians.
On the morning of June 2nd the Fenians assumed a defensive place on a Limestone Ridge, near the small city of Ridgeway.
Almost 9 hundred Canadian militia from Toronto, Hamilton, Caledonia, and York marched towards the Fenians to start out the battle.
All through the day skirmishes had been fought within the space with cavalry costs, riflemen assaults, and hand-to-hand guerrilla fight happening.
Sadly, the Canadian militia was poorly skilled. Key errors had been made that result in the Fenians capturing the small city of Ridgeway.
Anticipating British reinforcements to reach shortly, the Fenians gave up Ridgeway after a couple of hours and retreated again to Fort Erie.
One other battle came about, the Battle of Fort Erie, with the small group of Canadian militiamen holding the city towards the Fenians.
Regardless of their fast victories and overwhelming power originally of the battles, the Fenian’s had been left with no selection however to return again to the US. A bigger power of British and Canadian’s had been shortly approaching.
Upon arriving again within the US greater than 850 Fenians had been arrested by the American authorities.
The Canadians and British Military had been prevented by American gunboats from retaliating.
The End result of the Battle of Ridgeway
If it weren’t for the Fenians it’s uncertain that Canada would have grow to be a confederation simply over a yr later.
Politicians and native newspapers vastly exaggerated the Canadian defeat at Ridgeway.
There have been numerous claims that Canadians or unable to defend themselves with out relying closely on the British military for assist.
The straightforward Canadian defeat at Ridgeway added a large amount of disgrace to Canadian nationwide navy heritage. It took virtually 25 years for the Canadian authorities to acknowledge the veterans of the battle and reward them for therefore graciously defending the nation.
The rapid want for native protection and elevated Canadian nationalism result in the Confederation be negotiated.
The outcomes? The Dominion of Canada being created on July 1st, 1867 – unity amongst the entire provinces for the primary time in Canadian historical past.
The Battle of Ridgeway is likely one of the most vital elements of Canadian historical past. This occasion actually outlined the trail for Canada to take shifting ahead sooner or later.
Ridgeway Park and the Ridgeway Battlefield Nationwide Historic Website
Yow will discover the Ridgeway Battlefield Website on Freeway three simply exterior of Fort Erie.
The park is situated in Ridgeway, Ontario on Garrison Highway.
Visiting the park you’ll discover various out of doors interpretive panels that share the historical past of the Fenian Raids.
These panels clarify the explanations of the raids, the totally different authorities responses, and the ultimate consequence that these raids had on Canada.
To be trustworthy, I had not even heard in regards to the Fenian’s till I occurred on this park.
It’s unbelievable to me that such a key piece of Canadian historical past can go unnoticed and extraordinary by so many Canadians.
A number of the different highlights of the park embody:
- A commemorative cairn with details about the raids and a plaque devoted to the troopers that perished throughout the assault
- A collection of interval work that give a visible account of the battle
- Interpretive indicators and a lined gazebo for picnics and enjoyable
Suggestions for Visiting + Extra Data
These of you curious about studying extra in regards to the Battle of Ridgeway will need to pay a go to to the native historic Museum.
The museum is situated at 402 Ridge Highway and gives much more perception into the Fenian Raids.
The spectacular historic Fort Erie is situated close by – undoubtedly price a go to as nicely in the event you’re interested by Warfare of 1812 historical past.
Parking on the website is free though it would be best to watch out turning off of the freeway into the park (there may be high-speed site visitors going by).
Don’t neglect to take a look at the big mausoleum subsequent door. This mausoleum is devoted to the troopers and veterans from the battle.
There aren’t any amenities close by though Fort Erie and Niagara Falls are a brief drive away.