Old Fort Niagara beckons patrons back to the 18th century when soldiers in colorful uniforms walked the fort's walls and fur traders glided past the fort in birch-bark canoes. On Saturday and Sunday of Columbus Day Weekend, Oct. 10-11, the fort’s staff and volunteers will present a variety of living history activities for visitors to enjoy from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
•Artillery (cannon) and musket firing demonstrations: Artillery demonstrations on Saturday only – first time this year! Enjoy regular musket-firing demonstrations throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday.
•Period cooking: At harvest time, it is appropriate to explore foodways of the past. Cooks will be preparing recipes from the 18th century or earlier. Learn about soldiers’ rations and how they were prepared. What did officers vs. enlisted soldiers eat? What was involved in preparing an 18th century meal? How did the soldiers augments their diets by hunting, fishing and gardening?
•Blacksmithing: OFN’s resident blacksmith will fire up the forge and demonstrate how iron tools and furnishings were made using a bellows, hammer and anvil.
•Fur trading: Explore the lives of engagees (known as voyageurs) who paddled canoes on the Great Lakes carrying European made goods west and furs harvested by Native Americans east. Fall was the time when voyageurs returned from the upper country with their harvest of beaver, otter, martin and other pelts.
•Silversmithing: Silver goods were a popular trade item in the 17th and 18th centuries. Silversmiths were employed to manufacture jewelry and other silver products that were much in demand among Native Americans. This demonstration will show how these valued articles were made.
•18th century laundry: Were there women at the fort? This is a frequently asked question. Women’s roles at the fort were to serve as laundresses and nurses (jobs that often overlapped). Women were paid for taking in soldiers’ laundry, but they didn’t just chuck the dirty clothes in the ol’ Maytag with some detergent, push a button and walk way! Laundry was a laborious task, from building the fire to heat the water, to carrying the water, to washing and drying the clothes.
•Military engineering: Like math? Find out how forts were designed using precise mathematical formulas. A scale model of Fort Niagara shows how.
•Military Music: Fifes and drums regulated the soldiers’ day and also entertained the troops. Hear some of the most popular tunes from the 18th century.
Guests must wear a facial covering and practice social distancing. For more information about Old Fort Niagara’s health and safety plan during the pandemic, visit https://www.oldfortniagara.org/visitor-information.
Old Fort Niagara is currently open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. It 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.