8 Historic Canadian War Sites You Can Still Visit Today

LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com

If you are a history buff looking to explore the many war site in Canada, you’re in luck. From Nova Scotia to Ontario all the way to Saskatchewan, there are an abundance of places to visit, which were at one point, battlefields during the numerous wars. Some of the sites are designated National Historic Sites with activities, events and interactive displays while others are living museums and fortified towns. If you have ever wanted to put your feet onto an actual battleground, now is your chance with these 8 Canadian Historic War Sites.

8. Nancy Island Historic Site, Ontario

It is one of the lesser-known war sites in Canada, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. The story here goes that The Nancy was a British Schooner, a fur-trading vessel during the war of 1812. It was on the Nottawasaga River on August 14th 1814 when Lt. Worsley, the commander of the ship did everything he could to defend her form the American attack. Unfortunately the Nancy was destroyed, although the crew lived to fight another day. Today on Nancy Island visitors can see the hull of the Nancy, built in 1789. Also on the site there is a replica of a 19th century Great Lakes lighthouse and a video presentation that shows visitors the crew’s heroic story. In the summer make sure to tour the site, participate in a cannon demonstration and interact with a historical character.

"Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Kanada; Nancy Island Museum" by Christian Budach - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Kanada; Nancy Island Museum” by Christian BudachOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

7. Plains of Abraham, Quebec

The Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which took place on September 13th, 1759, was a pivotal moment in the Seven Years War and in the history of Canada. General James Wolfe led the British invasion force to defeat the French troops leading to the surrender of Quebec to the British. The battle only took 30 minutes, as the British soldiers climbed the steep hill in darkness and through a single deadly volley of musket fire, defeated the French. Today it stands as one of Canada’s most important historical parks and there are numerous exhibits throughout for visitors to explore the story through uniforms, maps, interactive games and period reproductions.

Plains of Abraham, Quebec

6. The Fortress of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

It was during the Seven Years War that British troops were looking to gain control of Quebec with Louisbourg being their gateway to the St. Lawrence River. They attacked this military fortress that was erected over the course of three decades. The British brought a major artillery assault to this fortress, causing major structural damage and with 14,000 British soldiers and only 9,000 French soldiers; the Brits had a significant advantage. Setting the enemy’s ship on fire and then the main centerpiece of Louisbourg on fire meant that the French had no choice but to surrender. This fortress may have been lost to history if not designated a National Historic Site in the 1960’s and today it is one of the largest reconstructed 18th-century French fortified towns in North America.

LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com
LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com

5. Ridgeway Battlefield National Historic Site of Canada, Ontario

The Battle of Ridgeway was fought on June 2, 1866 between Canadian troops and an irregular army of Irish-American invaders who called themselves the Fenians. It was the first modern industrial-era battle to be fought by Canadians, the first to be fought only by Canadian troops and the first to be led exclusively by Canadian officers. It was actually a defeat for Canadians, and the first and only armed victory for the cause of Irish Independence between 1798-1919. As it happens the Fenians only held Ridgeway for a short amount of time, in which a rapid convergence of largly British and Canadian reinforcements convinced many of them to return in haste to the United States, where waiting US authorities took their weapons. Visitors can find out more at the Battle of Ridgeway Memorial Park site where there are outdoor interpretative displays and panels.

Photo by: Eric Lorenzen Photography
Photo by: Eric Lorenzen Photography

4. Chippawa Battlefield, Ontario

The Battle of Chippawa was actually a victory for the United States Army during the War of 1812 when they invaded Upper Canada along the Niagara River on July 5th, 1814. It was the longest and bloodiest military operations of the War of 1812. The actual site of where it took place was on the fields of Daniel Street’s farm near the banks of the river and started when a force of 2,000 men attacked an invading American army of 3,500. The fighting lasted all day until the Brits were forced to withdraw and the Americans won, but only for three weeks, until the bloody battle of Lundy’s Lane was fought and won by the Brits on July 25th. Niagara Parks has preserved the 300 acres of the pristine battlefield, one of the last remaining sites from the War of 1812 and visitors are encouraged to go on the self-guided walking tour that retraces the events of the war.

Photo by: Ontario War Memorials
Photo by: Ontario War Memorials

3. Battle of the Chateauguay Historic Site, Quebec

It was October 26th 1813, during the War of 1812 when a British force of 1,630 regulars, volunteers and militia from Lower Canada and Mohawk warriors repelled an American force of about 4,000 who were attempting to invade Lower Canada and attack Montreal. The Battle of the Chateauguay was one of the two battles that caused the Americans to abandon the Saint Lawrence Campaign, a major strategic effort put on by the Americans. This site has been turned into a Historic National site in which visitors can come to learn more about the battle and how the Canadian took victory. The interpretation center is where visitors can have interactive experiences learning about the lives of soldiers and more. Outside visitors can tour the archaeological landscape that witnessed the battle or head to the beautiful monument that commemorates the battle.

"Lieu historique national du Canada de la Bataille-de-la-Châteauguay 02" by Benoit Rochon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Lieu historique national du Canada de la Bataille-de-la-Châteauguay 02” by Benoit RochonOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

2. Batoche National Historic Site, Saskatchewan

Batoche is the site of the historic Battle of Batoche during the northwest Rebellion of 1885, which pitted Canadian authorities against a force of rebel Metis. The Metis settlement of Batoche was established in 1872 and by the time the battle took place it numbered 500 people. The battle resulted in the defeat of Louis Riel and his Metis forces, resulting in the collapse of the Provisional Governments. Batoche is now a National Historic Site where visitors can come and learn more about the history of the community and its inhabitants via a multimedia presentation. There are several restored buildings with costumed interpreters who depict the lifestyle of the Metis between 1860-1900’s.

Batoche National Historic Site, Saskatchewan

1. Fort Henry National Historic Site, Ontario

It was at the beginning of the war of 1812 that local militia erected a blockhouse and battery on Point Henry to defend the important naval base on Point Frederick, as well as to monitor maritime traffic on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. On November 10, 1812 this battery was involved in repelling several American warships that were attacking the Royal George that was taking refuge in the Kingston Harbor. Distrust continued after the War of 1812 between the British and the Americans and the original fort that was built was demolished to make way for a more extensive fort, built between 1832-1836. Although this new fort was never attacked, it has now becoming a livening museum for visitors that come from all over the country.

Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com
Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

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