Site of the Battle of Stoney Creek and the annual Battle of Stoney Creek Re-Enactment
Stoney Creek Ontario is a community of 60,000 people located in the east end of the City of Hamilton stretching 9.6 kilometers along the south shore of Lake Ontario. It was founded by American Loyalists in about 1786 and may have been named after a creek that formerly served as a natural boundary between the two communities. It is now one of the fastest growing areas of the city.
This suburban area is best known for the battle that took place here during the war of 1812 between the United States and Britain. The June 6, 1813 battle, although not a large one, produced one of Canada’s most enduring hero’s and marked the spot where the American invasion of Upper Canada was turned back forever.
The battlefield is a National Historic Site of Canada and includes a 32-acre park, Battlefield House Museum, a 100-foot tall memorial monument, the Nash-Jackson “Grandview” house and the nearby Smith’s Knoll monument.
Normally this site is only visited during school trips and doesn’t usually merit a visit except for the most ardent history buffs but on the weekend closest to the 6th of June an annual Battle of Stoney Creek Re-enactment takes place that draws participants and spectators from across the globe. Don’t get me wrong though, for the most part this event is not really a big deal and still only caters to children and those with a historical interest.
Battlefield House Museum and Park National Historic Site is located at 77 King Street West in Stoney Creek Ontario at the site of the Gage family homestead at the base of the Niagara Escarpment and linked to the Bruce Trail, Canada’s longest and oldest footpath. Information on the site’s opening times and events can be found at www.battlefieldhouse.ca
Location of Stoney Creek Ontario
Getting to "The Creek":
Stoney Creek Ontario is a suburb of the City of Hamilton and can be found at its easternmost extremity. Getting to Stoney Creek Ontario is the same as getting to Hamilton with one major exception, if you are travelling by car do not head into Hamilton downtown, instead follow the direction to Hamilton’s east end and go over the Skyway Bridge and exit at Centennial Parkway (also known as Highway #20).
For those taking public transport that heads into downtown Hamilton you can easily reach most parts of Stoney Creek Ontario by taking the local bus service known as the HSR (Hamilton Street Railway). get more information at: www.hamilton.ca/HSR
The Battle of Stoney Creek
As the Americans invaded Upper Canada, now known as Ontario, Canada they stopped and camped on June 5th, 1813 at the Gage Farm on the banks of the small Stoney Creek. A local 19-year-old boy named William (Billy) Green “The Scout” had spotted them during the day and rode that evening to the British encampment at Burlington Heights.
The British mustered about 700 soldiers, militiamen and a small group of native warriors and set out at 11:30PM for an overnight march to the American position. Arriving just before dawn they launched a surprise attack on the 1500 American troops still in their beds.
Bewildered and surprised the Americans became disoriented. Many soldiers began firing on each other and in the confusion two senior American General’s including the commanding officer walked into the British lines and were immediately captured. An unarmed American artillery unit was annihilated and the Americans, not knowing that they heavily outnumbered the attackers and without their commanders quickly retreated after only 45 minutes of fighting.
The British suffered heavier losses: 23 dead, 136 wounded, 3 missing and 52 captured than the Americans: 17 killed, 38 wounded and 100 captured including 7 officers but this battlefield marks the most advanced position achieved by American forces on the Niagara frontier. It was the turning point in the American invasion.
Battle of Stoney Creek Re-enactment
For over 30 years now the Battle of Stoney Creek Ontario has been re-enacted with it’s bicentennial happening on June 6th 2013. It is a weekend festival with participants in traditional uniforms and clothing of the times camping in the park in military tents just as they would have in 1813.
A small merchants area is set up and is limited to those vendors selling items reflective of the period. Fireworks are set off on Saturday night but the highlight of the weekend is the three re-enactments of different stages of the battle by re-enactors in the full military garb of the times. Musket and rifles flare and spew clouds of smoke as they volley. 8 lb and 4 lb canon barrels thunder with their loud noise often scaring young children into tears. It is a very interesting spectacle.
Two re-enactments occur on Saturday and one on Sunday. The nighttime reenactment is particularly nice as you can really see the muzzle flares against the darkening horizon and afterwards you can always enjoy a fireworks show.
National Historic Site of Canada
The attractions at or near the site include:
Battlefield House and Museum
This is the original 1796 Gage Family house in which the family sheltered themselves while the battle raged outside. It is now a museum dedicated to experiencing life in the early 19th century.
Battlefield monument is the attraction that brings visitors to the site year round. At 100 feet in height and sitting high on a plateau it is an impressive site. It was unveiled on June 6, 1913 by Queen Mary in London via transatlantic cable. It commemorates 100 years of peace between the US and the British
For most of the year the monument is closed except for school trips but during the anniversary of the battle it is pen to all free of charge. While you can’t climb the top anymore as I did as a child you can still go to the first level and get impressive views of the countryside and Lake Ontario below. On a clear day you can easily see Toronto and the CN Tower in the distance.
A Gage family member resided in the house then known as Grandview during the battle and an older section of the home (now demolished) actually served as the battle’s field hospital. The house was originally located about a kilometer away but was re-located to the site in 1999. It is not presently open to visitors.
32-acres of rolling grassland and trails on the site of the original Gage farm and the actual site where the Battle of Stoney Creek occurred.
Battlefield cemetery and monument at Smith’s Knoll
Smith’s Knoll is found east of Battlefield Creek and across the street from Battlefield House at 70 King Street West. It was here on June 5, 1813 that the American cannons were set up to guard their camp on the Gage farm. During the Battle of Stoney Creek the British captured the artillery battery and all the American soldiers were killed. The Lion crested Monument honors the 23 British soldiers killed at the Battle of Stoney Creek on June 6, 1813 and was dedicated in 1910. All the remains of the British soldiers killed are buried underneath.
William Green home
Located at 30 Ridge Road on the escarpment in Stoney Creek Ontario just a few kilometers away from Battlefield Park is the original home of Billy Green and his descendants. Billy the Scout has been called Canada’s Paul Revere as his deed was the key to the British victory. This is still a small private home not a museum so Ontario Canada visitors should not simply drive in expecting a tour. It is a simple house on farmland consisting of 95 acres of fruit growing. Built and operated by William Green his descendant’s still occupy the home today.
Not really worth a visit other than to keep going along the Ridge Road for a stop at the Devil’s Punchbowl and then later on good views of Toronto from atop the Niagara Escarpment.