In early 1812, as the British and the Americans were on the brink of war in North America, Fort St. Joseph was not thought to be of much importance to the British cause. It was disregarded as a useless, poorly located post. But when war was delcared, the garrison at Fort St. Joseph pulled off a miracle: it captured the American Fort Mackinac, and for the remainder of the War of 1812 the British never relinquished control of the Upper Great Lakes.
Built in the aftermath of the American Revolution, Fort St. joseph played an important role in the defence of Canada. And yet, when the war ended, the fort was abandoned, and almost forgotten.
However, there were those who could not forget the heroics of 1812. They sought to restore the memory of the fort that was part of one of the defining moments in Canadian history. Determined individuals campaigned for government assistance and public support. Their efforts have paid off: since the 1960s, St. Joseph Island and the site of the fort have been revived as tourist destinations, and there are high hopes for an even greater tribute to the legacy of the fort and its soldiers.
John Abbott is professor of history at Algoma University College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. he writes on the hsitory of the Upper Great Lakes, and is co-author of The Border at Sault Ste. Marie.
Graeme S. Mount, professor of history at Laurentian University, has written extensively on Canadian-American relations. his most recent book is Invisible and Inaudible in Washington: American Policies Toward Canada During the Cold War (1999).
Michael J. Mulloy has lived in, photographed, and collected pictures of Northern Ontario for more than six decades.
"The History of Fort St. Joseph offers substance for debate over the role that a long-neglected heritage site can and should play in the nation's historical consciousness."