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French Heritage Day will share early Niagara history on Nov. 5

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Mon, Oct 24th 2016 05:00 pm

Also, free admission for active and retired military personnel on Veterans Day

On Saturday, Nov. 5, Old Fort Niagara will present "French Heritage Day" through a series of interactive and educational activities for the public. The programs will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will convey the influence and impact of the French on Niagara's early history, from 1726-59.

"We have hosted a French Heritage Day for students in high school and from French classes across the region for many years, and we are excited to offer it to the public this year," said Robert Emerson, executive director of the Old Fort Niagara Association. "The French were the first Europeans to explore the Niagara Region, to establish trade with the Native people here, and to build the first permanent trading post, which visitors recognize as our French Castle to this day. The French were not here for long, but their influence is still present."

Some history: The French began exploring the Niagara Region in the 17th century. In 1726, they constructed Le Maison Machicoulis, a large stone building known today as the French Castle. This building, surrounded by a wooden stockade, was designed to house about 40 soldiers. The new fort protected French interests in the region and provided a venue where Frenchmen and Native Americans could meet to negotiate and trade until the 1759 siege, when the British took control of the fort.

On Nov. 5, the public will learn more about the French in the very building they constructed. In addition, they will witness:

  • Food and cooking techniques from the 1700s
  • Hands-on introduction to the 18th century fur trade
  • 18-century French medicine
  • French soldier life
  • Musket-firing demonstrations
  • Cannon-firing demonstrations
  • 18th century French games

Everything is included with regular admission to the fort, which is $12 for adults, $8 for children, and free for children ages 5 and under and for Old Fort Niagara Association members.

Active Military, Veterans and Families Admitted Free on Veterans Day

On Friday, Nov. 11, Old Fort Niagara will welcome active military personnel, veterans and their families with free admission in appreciation for their service to this country. These visitors need only to present their military ID at the admissions desk. The fort will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (admissions end at 4:30 p.m.).

The fort's final event of the year will be "Castle by Candlelight" on the evenings of Dec. 3 and 10. Tickets, $10 per person, will be sold at the door.

Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) is located in Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown.

Pictured: A sergeant of "La Compagnie France de la Marine" guards an entry to the French Castle, where the French crest above the door recalls the years of the French occupation. Old Fort Niagara's French soldiers will conduct musket- and cannon-firing demonstrations throughout the day on Nov. 5 as part of "French Heritage Day." (Photo by Wayne Peters)

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