Living History — Calling out the Guard at Canada’s Fort Henry

The Fort Henry Guard.

The officers and NCOs of the Fort Henry Guard of Kingston, Ontario, Canada decked out in typical mid-19th Century British Army regalia. (Photo by Ben Turnbull)

Fort Henry from above. (Photo courtesy of Parks Canada)

Fort Henry from above. (Photo courtesy of Parks Canada)

Thanks to Sean J. McNeill for providing this picture of the guard at Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Established on the shore of Lake Ontario during the war 1812 to defend Upper Canada from American invasion, the small harbour outpost was expanded into a formidable stone fortress in the decades following the conflict. Until 1870, Fort Henry was garrisoned by British troops, after which point  it was turned over to the army of the newly independent Dominion of Canada.

As relations between Ottawa and Washington improved in the late 19th Century, Fort Henry became obsolete, although it was briefly used to house enemy POWs during the First World War, a function it would reprise between 1939 and 1945. In the post war period, Fort Henry was designated a national historic site and remains so to this day.

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The Fort Henry Guard consists of the 28-member Drill Squad, 28-member Fort Henry Drums; 3 domestic interpreters, the Pioneer of the Garrison; the Artillery Lieutenant & Artillery Serjeant; the flag-bearing ensigns;  the Goat Major & mascot David X; and Captain Ben Campbell, Commandant of the Guard.

The Fort Henry Guard consists of the 28-member Drill Squad, 28-member Fort Henry Drums; 3 domestic interpreters, the Pioneer of the Garrison; the Artillery Lieutenant & Artillery Serjeant; the flag-bearing ensigns; the Goat Major & mascot David X; and Captain Ben Campbell, Commandant of the Guard. Photo by Ben Turnbull.

9 comments for “Living History — Calling out the Guard at Canada’s Fort Henry

  1. 13 May, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Thanks so much for this. Years ago I used to work in Detroit, and loved taking my kids across into Canada for history trips. Fort Henry was a favorite stop. You brought it all back.

    • 13 May, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      Thanks for writing. Glad you liked it. Have you ever been to the forts along the Niagara?

      • 14 May, 2013 at 6:14 am

        Yes indeed. Niagara being a tolerable (even with little kids enquiring “Are we there yet?”) one-day drive from Detroit, and offering varied attractions, it was for some years a favorite destination. We would stay in one of the old hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake – a much nicer atmosphere than the gimcrack thrills of Niagara Falls city – so Fort George and the blockhouse of Fort Mississauga were within walking distance. Fort Niagara lay just across the river on the American shore. Queenstown Heights, with Brock’s Monument, was en route to Niagara Falls; and Fort Erie a little way beyond. All had become battlefields during American attacks and British-Canadian counterattacks, so all were on our visit lists. A lot of military history packed into a compact border area.

        • 14 May, 2013 at 6:33 am

          Yup… I know them all very well. I go down there at least once a year myself.

  2. FHG2062
    14 May, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Thanks for posting the photos! I was Colour Serjeant last year, but have moved on to new work since then. I live in Cornwall now and am looking forward to visiting Fort Wellington and Upper Canada Village this summer. When you spend all summer working at a historic site, you miss out on all the other great ones!
    – Sean McNeill

    • 14 May, 2013 at 7:53 am

      Thanks for sending them, Sean! if you take any others this summer, send them along.

      • FHG2062
        14 May, 2013 at 5:14 pm

        I’ll look into compiling a couple good action shots from one of the summer shows. This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the guard. Although it was a POW camp in WWII, the museum & reenacting unit was actually founded August 1, 1938. Following the declaration of war, the museum was emptied and converted to a prison. In fact, there is a story recorded that prisoners of the Kriegsmarine who were tasked with moving museum pieces stole for themselves a layout of the Fort and used it in an escape. All prisoners were returned to the camp…legend is that some simply went window shopping in Kingston.

        • 14 May, 2013 at 6:12 pm

          Amazing. Reminds me of the film 49th Parallel… without the window shopping.

  3. Mike the former FH G employee.
    31 July, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Fort Henry is a great museum, but the FH Guard is a rather shabbily treated entity. The average soldier there is probably treated with less respect than a soldier currently serving in the actual military. How like the leadership at the Fort Henry guard to give you a photo that features their leadership. This is a great example of the self-entitlement that is institutionalized in their management. Few tourists have any idea of the kind of mental abuse that is ingrained in their training program.

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