Fort Erie, Ontario

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Fort Erie
Town (lower-tier)
Town of Fort Erie
The Peace Bridge between Fort Erie and Buffalo.
The Peace Bridge between Fort Erie and Buffalo.
Location of Fort Erie within Niagara Region
Location of Fort Erie within Niagara Region
Fort Erie is located in Southern Ontario
Fort Erie
Fort Erie
Location in Ontario
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Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
Regional Municipality Niagara
 • Mayor Wayne H. Redekop
 • MP Rob Nicholson
 • MPP Wayne Gates
 • Land 166.24 km2 (64.19 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 29,960
 • Density 180.2/km2 (467/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal code span L2A, L0S- 1B0, 1N0, 1S0
Area code(s) 905, 289, 365

Fort Erie (2011 population 29,960) is a town on the Niagara River in the Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada. It is located directly across the river from Buffalo, New York.

Fort Erie is one of the fastest growing communities in Niagara, and has experienced a high level of residential and commercial development in the past few years. Garrison Road (Niagara Regional Road 3) is the town's commercial corridor, stretching east to west through Fort Erie.

Fort Erie is also home to a number of other commercial core areas (Bridgeburg, Ridgeway, Stevensville and Crystal Beach) as a result of the 1970 amalgamation of Bertie Township and the village of Crystal Beach with Fort Erie.


Fort Erie is generally flat, but there are low sand hills, varying in height from 2 to 15 metres, along the shore of Lake Erie, and a limestone ridge extends from Point Abino to near Miller's Creek, giving Ridgeway its name. The soil is shallow, with a clay subsoil.

The town's beaches on Lake Erie, most notably Erie Beach, Crystal Beach and Bay Beach, are considered the best in the area and draw many weekend visitors from the Toronto and Buffalo areas. While summers are enjoyable, winters can occasionally be fierce, with many snowstorms, whiteouts and winds whipping off Lake Erie.


In addition to the primary urban core of Fort Erie, the town also contains the neighbourhoods of Black Creek, Bridgeburg/NorthEnd/Victoria, Crescent Park, Crystal Beach, Point Abino, Ridgeway, Snyder, and Stevensville. Smaller and historical neighbourhoods include Amigari Downs, Bay Beach, Buffalo Heights, Douglastown, Edgewood Park, Erie Beach, Garrison Village, Mulgrave, Oakhill Forest, Ridgemount, Ridgewood, Rose Hill Estates, Thunder Bay, Walden, Wavecrest and Waverly Beach.

Erie Beach is a designated place in Canadian census data; it had a population of 199 in 2006.

Fort Erie Secondary School and Ridgeway-Crystal Beach High School are the two public high schools serving Fort Erie and area communities.


Climate data for Fort Erie (1981−2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.0
Average high °C (°F) −0.2
Daily mean °C (°F) −4.1
Average low °C (°F) −8
Record low °C (°F) −28.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 78.9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 34.2
Average snowfall cm (inches) 44.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 15.8 12.2 12.2 13.2 13.0 11.4 10.4 10.2 11.4 12.9 14.7 15.2 152.3
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 5.9 5.0 7.9 12.3 13.0 11.4 10.4 10.2 11.4 12.9 12.8 7.9 120.9
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 10.6 8.0 5.4 1.5 0.08 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.08 2.9 8.2 36.6
Source: Environment Canada[2]


The Fort Erie area contains deposits of flint,[3] and became important in the production of spearheads, arrowheads, and other tools. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Niagara Peninsula was inhabited by the Neutral Nation, so named by the French because they tried to remain neutral between the warring Huron and Iroquois peoples. In 1650, during the Beaver Wars, the Iroquois Confederacy declared war on the Neutral Nation, driving them from their traditional territory by 1651, and practically annihilating them by 1653.

The reconstructed Fort Erie

After the Treaty of Paris, which ended the French and Indian War and transferred Canada from France to Britain, King George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763, establishing a "proclamation line", the territory beyond which (including what is now Southern Ontario) would be an Indian Reserve. This was an attempt to avoid further conflict with the Indians, although it did not forestall Pontiac's War the following year. The British also built a string of military forts to defend their new territory, including Fort Erie, the first version of which was established in 1764.

During the American Revolution Fort Erie was used as a supply depot for British troops. After the war the territory of what is now the Town of Fort Erie was settled by soldiers demobilised from Butler's Rangers, and the area was named Bertie Township in 1784.

The original fort was destroyed by ice, as was a second fort built on the same site. In 1803, the British began work on a new, stone, fort inland from the original site. During the War of 1812, the Americans attacked Fort Erie twice in 1812, captured and abandoned it in 1813, and then recaptured it in 1814. The Americans held it for a time, breaking a prolonged British siege. Later they destroyed Fort Erie and returned to Buffalo in the winter of 1814.

Map of various Underground Railroad routes

The Fort Erie area became a major terminus for slaves using the Underground Railroad in the middle of the 19th century, many of whom crossed into Canada from Buffalo, New York. Bertie Hall (which was used for a time in the 20th century as a Doll House Museum) is believed to have been a stopping point on the Underground Railroad.

In 1866, during the Fenian raids, between 1,000 and 1,350 Fenians crossed the Niagara River and advanced toward the Welland Canal. They defeated local militia in the Battle of Ridgeway, and then turned back and fought the Battle of Fort Erie before retiring across the river and surrendering to the American authorities.

The Grand Trunk Railway built the International Railway Bridge in 1873, bringing about a new town, originally named Victoria and subsequently renamed to Bridgeburg, north of the original settlement of Fort Erie. By 1876, Ridgeway had an estimated population of 800, the village of Fort Erie has an estimated population of 1,200, and Victoria boasted three railway stations.[4] By 1887, Stevensville had an estimated population of "nearly 600", Victoria of "nearly 700", Ridgeway of "about 600", and Fort Erie of "about 4,000".[5]

In 1888, the amusement park at Crystal Beach opened. The Canadiana brought patrons from Buffalo until 1956, and the park itself was closed in 1989.

In 1904, a group of speculators bought land at Erie Beach, planning to build an amusement park and other amenities, and sell lots around the park to vacationers from Buffalo. Erie Beach featured a hotel, a casino, a race track, regular ferry service from Buffalo and train service from the ferry dock in Fort Erie, and what was billed as the world's largest outdoor swimming pool. Erie Beach and Crystal Beach were in competition to provide bigger thrills to patrons, until Erie Beach went bankrupt and closed down on Labour Day weekend, 1930.

The Niagara Movement meeting was held at the Erie Beach Hotel[6] in 1905. The movement later led to the founding of the NAACP.

The historic Point Abino Lighthouse was built by the Canadian government in 1918. The lighthouse has been automated in 1989. Since its decommissioning in 1995, the Point Abino Lighthouse was designated as a National Historic Site. The lighthouse is now owned by the Town of Fort Erie and is available for weekend tours in the summer.

On August 7, 1927 the Peace Bridge was opened between Fort Erie and Buffalo.

On January 1, 1932, Bridgeburg and Fort Erie amalgamated into a single town.

The ruins of Fort Erie remained until they were rebuilt through a depression era "work program" project, as a tourist attraction. Work started in 1937, and the Fort was opened to the public in 1939.

In 1970, the provincial government consolidated the various villages in what had been Bertie Township, including the then town of Fort Erie, into the present Town of Fort Erie.


The 2011 Census of Canada indicates a current population of 29,960 for Fort Erie. This is a 0.1% increase over the last Census (2006).[1] The median household income in 2005 for Fort Erie was $47,485.00, which is below the Ontario provincial average of $60,455.00.[7]

Canada 2006 Census Population  % of Total Population
Visible minority group
South Asian 225 0.8%
Chinese 365 1.2%
Black 300 1%
Filipino 50 0.2%
Latin American 410 1.4%
Arab 40 0.1%
Southeast Asian 45 0.2%
West Asian 30 0.1%
Korean 85 0.3%
Japanese 20 0.1%
Other visible minority 35 0.1%
Mixed visible minority 20 0.1%
Total visible minority population 1,620 5.5%
Aboriginal group
First Nations 750 2.5%
Métis 150 0.5%
Inuit 0 0%
Total Aboriginal population 940 3.2%
White 26,985 91.3%
Total population 29,545 100%
Census Population
1871 835
1901 890
1911 1,146
1921 1,546
1931 2,383
1941 6,566
1951 7,572
1961 9,027
1971 23,113
1981 24,096
1991 26,006
2001 28,143
2006 29,925
2011 29,960

According to the 2001 census, the population was 28,143, broken down as follows: 92.8% White, 3.2% Aboriginal, 1.4% Chinese, 0.9% Black, and a very small percentage of Asian, Arab, and Hispanic populations.


Public festivals

Spring festivals

  • The Bridgeburg Car and Bike Show is held annually on the last Sunday in May. A strategic effort combining commercial revitalization, membership drive and fund raising, the event raises money for charitable disbursements by and moral supports for fire fighters at Fire Company #2 at Bridgeburg Station. Certain proceeds and all non-perishable food donations are raised directly for Community Outreach Program Erie (COPE), a referral agency and resource centre providing advocacy and emergency services such as food, clothing, diapers, prescriptions, and resume preparation. The event aims to introduce local residents and returning visitors to the variety of businesses at Bridgeburg Station. Open businesses, vendors, kids zone, nostalgia and modern flare make this a something-for-everyone event designed for family fun.

Summer festivals

  • The Rods and Relics Car Show, an annual car show hosted by the Rods and Relics Car Club of Fort Erie, is usually held on a Sunday in the middle of June. The show always has an excellent turn-out and the proceeds support local charities. The event takes place on the south-east grounds of the Fort Erie Race Track.
  • The Friendship Festival is a week-long international celebration of the culture and heritage shared by Canada and the USA. The Friendship Festival occurs during the first week of July and celebrates both Canada Day and Independence Day. The events held both in Fort Erie, ON and in Buffalo, NY include free concerts and a spectacular fireworks display on July 1 highlighting the two national holidays. Other activities include arts, crafts, children's entertainment, heritage and cultural displays, car shows and a midway.
  • The Ridgeway Summer Festival is held every year on the second weekend in July. The streets are closed off, and thousands of visitors stroll the historical downtown enjoying music, food, vendors, shows, and friendly atmosphere.
  • The Siege of Fort Erie is a historical re-enactment of the famous 1814 battle, which takes place during the second weekend of August. This battlefield was the bloodiest on Canadian soil due to the various sieges that took place throughout the War of 1812. The Siege of 1814 is vividly recreated every year.

Fall festivals

  • The Ridgeway Fall Festival is held every year in October, on the last weekend of the Ridgeway Farmers’ Market.

Winter festivals

  • The Spirit of Christmas is held in Ridgeway on the first weekend in December, Friday evening and Saturday only, featuring horse-drawn carriage rides, school choirs singing outdoors, Victorian carollers, strolling Santa, food and more.

Other points of interest

  • Old Fort Erie was rebuilt in the 1930s as a tourist attraction, and is open during the summer months, with special events outside the regular season.
  • Fort Erie Race Track has hosted live thoroughbred racing since 1897. Widely regarded as one of North America's most picturesque tracks, it has been home to the Prince of Wales Stakes - the second jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown - since 1959.
  • Safari Niagara, a 61 hectare (150 acre) nature park featuring exotic animals, is located in Stevensville.
  • The Point Abino Lighthouse is available for weekend tours in the summer.
  • Fort Erie is the location of the Canadian Motor Speedway, a motorsports development currently being built. This large mixed-use development, located adjacent the QEW, will feature a 65,000 seat motor speedway and road course. The development is set to be open in 2016.



Highway access

Fort Erie has been the Niagara terminus of the Queen Elizabeth Way since 1937. Road traffic continues to Buffalo, New York across the Peace Bridge, which was built in 1927.

Fort Erie was the Eastern terminus of King's Highway 3A from 1927 to 1929, and Ontario Highway 3 from 1929 until 1998, when the portion of Highway 3 within Fort Erie was downloaded to the Regional Municipality of Niagara and redesignated as Niagara Regional Road 3. Within Fort Erie, Highway 3 is named Garrison Road, and is the major East-West connection through the town. Dominion Road was designated as King's Highway 3C from 1934 until 1970, when it was downloaded to the newly formed Regional Municipality of Niagara and redesignated as Niagara Regional Road 1.

For Erie is the Southern Terminus of the Niagara Parkway, which extends from Fort Erie to Fort George.

Public transit

Public transit is provided by the Town of Fort Erie Transit System, which operates two buses in the town.[10]

Niagara Transit operates a service from Niagara Falls into Fort Erie, connecting with the Fort Erie Transit bus at Wal Mart Plaza at 750 Garrison Road.[11]

Intercity transit

Private intercity coach services are primarily operated by Coach Canada and Greyhound, with connections to Hamilton and Toronto and to US destinations via Buffalo.[12] The terminus is located at Robo Mart, 21 Princess Street at Waterloo Street.

The International Railway Bridge was built in 1873, and connects Fort Erie to Buffalo, New York across the Niagara River. There is currently no passenger rail service to Fort Erie.


Fort Erie is at the outlet of Lake Erie into the Niagara River. The lake and river serve as a playground for numerous personal yachts, sailboats, power boats and watercraft. There is a marina at the site of a former shipyard at Miller's Creek on the Niagara River, and a boat launch ramp in Crystal Beach.

Prior to the completion of the two bridges, passengers and freight were carried across the river by ferry.

From 1829, when the Welland Canal first opened, to 1833, when the cut was completed to Port Colborne, ship traffic between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario would transit the upper Niagara River.


In order to reduce large-scale ice blockage blockage in the Niagara River, with resultant flooding, ice damage to docks and other waterfront structures, and blockage of the water intakes for the hydro-electric power plants at Niagara Falls, the New York Power Authority and Ontario Power Generation have jointly operated the Lake Erie-Niagara River Ice Boom since 1964. The boom is installed on December 16, or when the water temperature reaches 4˚ Celsius (C) (39˚ Fahrenheit (F)), whichever happens first. The boom is opened on April 1 unless there is more than 650 square kilometres (250 square miles) of ice remaining in Eastern Lake Erie. When in place, the boom stretches 2,680 metres (8,800 feet) from the outer breakwall at Buffalo Harbor almost to the Canadian shore near the ruins of the pier at Erie Beach in Fort Erie. Originally, the boom was made of wooden timbers, but these have been replaced by steel pontoons.[13]

Sports and recreation


  • Fort Erie Sting Competitive and new PSL over 18 team
  • Thriving youth house league program
  • Club at Ferndale Park, on Fendale Ave in Crescent Park, with washroom facilities. 2 Full fields, 2 mid fileds/4 minifields
  • Optimist Park, Bowen Rd at Petit Rd., 2 Full fields with lights, 2 midfields/4 minifields


  • Oakes Park, a five diamond complex off Central Avenue, is the home field of the Fort Erie Cannons, who compete in the Niagara District Baseball Association's senior men's league.


  • Bridgewater Country Club on Gilmore Road.
  • Cherry Hill Club is a private club in Ridgeway.
  • Fort Erie Golf Club on Garrison Road.
  • International Country Club of Niagara in Stevensville.
  • Rio VIsta Golf on Crooks Street.


Fort Erie is the Eastern terminus of the Friendship Trail, and the Southern terminus of the Niagara River Recreation Pathway. Both trails are part of the Trans-Canada Trail system.


  • The Fort Erie Leisureplex on Garrison Road is the home rink of the Fort Erie Meteors.
  • The Crystal Ridge Arena in Crystal Beach hosts a number of hockey and figure skating clubs.

Notable people

  • Sandy Annunziata, professional football player, two time Grey Cup Champion; was born in Fort Erie.
  • Ernest Alexander Cruikshank, Brigadier General and historian; was born in Bertie Township.
  • Michael Fonfara, keyboard player; was born in Stevensville.
  • Paul Gardner, professional hockey player; was born in Fort Erie.
  • James L. Kraft, entrepreneur and inventor; was born outside of Stevensville and worked in Fort Erie before emigrating to the United States.
  • Pierre Pilote, professional hockey player; lived in Fort Erie for most of his adolescence.
  • Ron Sider, theologian and social activist; was born in Stevensville.
  • Nick Weglarz, professional baseball player; was born in Stevensville.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 2011 Census Profile
  2. "Fort Erie, Ontario". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Retrieved April 9, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Old Fort Erie: History
  4. Bertie Township
  5. The Township Papers of Bertie Township, Welland County
  6. "Niagara Movement First Annual Meating" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Fort Erie, Ontario - Detailed City Profile". Retrieved 2009-09-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. [1], Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision
  9. [2], Aboriginal Peoples - Data table
  10. Transit Schedule
  11. For Erie Fall Service Update
  12. Getting Around Fort Erie
  13. [3]

External links