Learn of life and survival on Niagara Frontier
Old Fort Niagara invites the public to imagine life as a soldier on the Niagara Frontier in the 1700s by attending its annual "Snowshoe Patrol" on Saturday, Feb. 4.
The fort's staff, volunteers and re-enactors will offer programs and hands-on activities about winter survival, the Great Lakes fur trade, historic games and trades. Visitors will also learn about the history of the snowshoe, and march into the woods to witness a skirmish between re-enactors.
The day's activities are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be suitable for all ages. Visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather, as most events will happen outdoors. Demonstrations will happen at the following times:
•11 a.m. and noon - Artillery firing demonstration by Schuyler's Company
An artillery re-enactment unit will fire a cannon.
•11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. - Powder horn engraving demonstration
Learn about the usefulness of horns and antlers in creating tools for soldiers and civilians.
•12:30 p.m. - Staying Warm in a Cold World
How did people survive a Niagara winter before electricity and central heat? This program will examine winter clothing, bedding and heating.
An Old Fort Niagara boulangerie. (Photo by Lee Gugino)
•1:15 p.m. - Great Lakes Trade
Demonstrations and hands-on activities about the workings of the 18th century fur trade on the Great Lakes. Learn about the Great Lakes' earliest business enterprise, the lives of Native Americans and hivernants (winter traders), and examine popular trade goods and furs.
•2-4 p.m. - History of the Snowshoe and Woods Patrol
Join educators from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to learn about the history of the snowshoe. After a brief program, visitors will be invited to wear a pair of traditional wooden snowshoes (weather permitting) to accompany a patrol into the woods east of the fort. In the woods, watch a skirmish between re-enactors, then enjoy complimentary hot chocolate prepared over an open fire while mingling with re-enactors.
Snowshoes are provided first-come, first-served, or bring your own.
•Ongoing activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Learn about the soldier's life (clothing, personal kit, weapons and equipment; storing, preparing and cooking food); enjoy 18th century games; and participate in hands-on demonstrations of quill pens.
All activities and programs are included with regular admission to the fort: ($12 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-12) and free to members of Old Fort Niagara.
Old Fort Niagara recognizes the volunteers who participate in this event and share their knowledge with the public: Brant's Volunteers, Hoisington Rangers, New York Provincials, Schuyler's Company and Shroth's New York Company re-enacting units.
Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) is located in Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown. The fort is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admissions end 30 minutes before closing.