Old Fort Erie, Fort Erie

Fenian Raid Reenactment

Experience the dramatic Fenian Raids with a reenactment of the historic 1866 invasion of Canada West at Old Fort Erie.
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This event has been cancelled to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Please check back for further updates to Niagara Parks events and programming.

Fenian Raid Reeanctment at Old Fort Erie

June 13 & 14, 2020 • 10 a.m. • Free admission

Watch history come to life and discover how Canadian forces stood strong against insurgent Irish-American Fenians with a dramatic reenactment of the 1866 Fenian Raids. Explore the grounds of Old Fort Erie as hundreds of reenactors from across Ontario and the United States commemorate the 154th reenactment of the historic invasion of Canada West.

All camp and battle reenactments at Old Fort Erie are free to the public. Regular admission applies for entry into Old Fort Erie, except for Old Fort Erie Season Pass holders. Free parking is available in front of the Old Fort Erie Welcome Centre.

Old Fort Erie Admission: Adult $13.27 + HST · Child $8.41 + HST

The Fenian Brotherhood

Between 1866 and 1870, the Fenian Brotherhood, an Irish Republican organization, launched a series of raids into Canadian territory to bring pressure on Britain to withdraw from Ireland. Most Fenian troops were experienced soldiers, having served in the Federal or Confederate armies in the recent American Civil War. Armed with surplus American Army weapons, the Fenian Brotherhood gave Canadian provinces a terrible shock during the Fenian Raids. Fear generated by the Fenian raids helped lead to the Confederation of Canada in 1867.

Fenian firing and raiding at the Old Fort Erie
A wooden wall at the Old Fort Erie

Battle of Ridgeway and Fort Erie

In the early hours of June 1, 1866, approximately 1,300 men of the Fenian Brotherhood crossed into Canadian territory at Ridgeway, a small village in Fort Erie. The men occupied and plundered the town before setting up headquarters in the ruins of Fort Erie. On June 2, Canadian military advanced into a Fenian ambush at the Battle of Ridgeway, forcing the Canadians to retreat in disorder. After the battle, Fenian forces returned to their headquarters at the Fort Erie docks to find a small group of Canadian troops had seized the docks. The outnumbered Canadian forces fought bravely before being completely overrun with many killed, wounded or captured, ending the brief Battle of Fort Erie. Though successful, the Fenians were disappointed as promised reinforcement and local support had failed to materialize. On June 3, Fenian forces withdrew to Buffalo during the night, ending the largest of the Fenian Raids.

History on display

Find authentic weapons used during the Fenian Raids inside the Old Fort Erie Museum.

Bridesburg Rifle

The Bridesburg Model 1861 rifled musket was produced for American forces during the Civil War at a peak rate of 5,000 a month. Though widely produced, this weapon was replaced in federal arsenals with the Springfield Model 1861 and sold off as military surplus. It was found in the arsenals of both the Canadian militia and Fenian Brotherhood who purchased large quantities of the military surplus.

Pattern 1861 Enfield Musketoon

Modelled after the Pattern 1853 Enfield, this shorter weapon was designed for artillerists and cavalry. The shorter barrel gave it very good manoeuverability, but its greatest improvement was the tighter twists of the rifling grooves which allowed slightly better accuracy at close range. These weapons were the principal firearm of both sides during the Fenian Raids.

Multiple guns sitting at a gun rack with a lit candle on the right side

Re-enactor Registration

To participate as a re-enactor please visit the participant registration page.

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