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Prepare for battle at Fort Niagara

Thu, Feb 6th 2020 04:00 pm
French soldiers lead their `prisoners` (AKA visitors) on a trek from the old fort into the woods where British rangers wait to free them at 'Winter Woods Battle' on Feb. 15. (Photos by Wayne Peters)
French soldiers lead their "prisoners" (AKA visitors) on a trek from the old fort into the woods where British rangers wait to free them at 'Winter Woods Battle' on Feb. 15. (Photos by Wayne Peters)

'Cordwaining' part of ‘Winter Woods Battle’ at Old Fort Niagara

“Winter Woods Battle” returns to Old Fort Niagara from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15. It will feature cordwaining as a new demonstration along with its assortment of indoor and outdoor living-history activities for visitors.

“This year, visitors will learn about cordwaining, or shoemaking, in the 18th century from our guest cordwainer, Brett Walker, of Ligonier, Pennsylvania,” said Robert Emerson, executive director of the Old Fort Niagara Association. “Additionally, there are indoor and outdoor activities to accommodate our visitors’ interests and comforts, including quill writing, making a tin ornament, starting a fire with flint and steel, building winter shelters with branches, learning the history of snowshoes and the Great Lakes fur trade. Plus, the annual trek into the woods for the battle!”

Re-enactors from regional units – Brant’s Volunteers, Hoisington Rangers, New York Provincials and Shroth’s New York Company – join the fort’s staff and volunteers in presenting a full slate of programming for all, whether indoor or outdoor enthusiasts.

“Pull on your boots, hats, gloves and coats and head to the fort for a fun, wintry day,” Emerson said. “ ‘Winter Woods Battle’ offers everyone a chance to get some fresh air, wander around historic buildings and experience life in the 1700s with fun and friendly reenactors and staff.”

Schedule of Activities

Everything is included with regular admission to the fort, and members get in for free.

  • 10 a.m. to noon, “A Winter's Project – Cordwaining demonstration by Brett Walker of Ligonier (formerly with Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia). Learn how shoes are made in the 18th century.
  • 10 a.m. to noon, quill penmanship – Take up your quill and learn to write in the 18th-century style. Experience life when "texting" meant a quill pen, inkwell and paper.
  • 10 a.m. to noon, winter games
  • 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., food on the frontier – 18th-century hearth cooking demonstration
  • 10:15 a.m., musket-firing demonstration
  • 11:30 a.m., winter survival in the fort and on the trail
  • Noon, start a fire with flint and steel
  • 12:15 p.m., musket-firing demonstration
  • 12:30 p.m., shelter building
  • 1 p.m., tinsmithing, make and take a tin ornament
  • 1-3 p.m., quill penmanship
  • 1:15 p.m., musket firing
  • 1:30 p.m., “The History of the Snowshoe: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation”
  • 2 p.m., “The Expedition”: Be on the front lines as French forces from the fort clash with British rangers posted in the woods. Walk on snowshoes (weather permitting*) and enjoy hot chocolate in the British camp. This is approximately a one-mile hike. Wear practical footwear and dress for the weather.
  • 2 p.m., fur trading demonstration: Hear tales of the voyageurs and their lives on the Great Lakes. 
  • 2-3:30 p.m., cordwaining (shoemaking) demonstration
  • 2-3:30 p.m., winter games
  • 2:15 p.m., musket-firing demonstration
  • 3:15 p.m., musket-firing demonstration
  • 4:15 p.m., musket-firing demonstration
  • Ongoing demonstrations: fishing, Native American stories and songs

*If there is enough snow, note snowshoes are provided first-come, first-served, and visitors are welcome to bring their own.

Indoor activities engage visitors during ‘Winter Woods Battle’ and give them a break from the cold. Tinsmithing, quill writing, Native singing and cooking demonstrations are part of the day’s programming. (Photos by Wayne Peters)

In addition to the activities, warm drinks and snacks will be for sale onsite at the log cabin.

Members of the Old Fort Niagara Association will enjoy free admission to “Winter Woods Battle.” General admission is $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 6-12, and free for children ages 5 and under.

More information about membership and Old Fort Niagara’s upcoming events and programs is available at www.oldfortniagara.org.

Old Fort Niagara is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admissions end 30 minutes before closing. Old Fort Niagara is a Registered National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site operated by the Old Fort Niagara Association (a not-for-profit organization) in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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