Indian and Northern Affairs
Niagara Parks Commission
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Attention: Mr. M. S. Cushing
Dear Mr. Cushing:
This letter is in reference to a discussion between Mr. D. Glenney, Interpretive Officer at Fort George, and Mr. R. Torrance of Queenston, on December 3, 1976. It is also in reference to the telephone conversation of Haldorson-Cushing on the 3rd of December, 1976.
We understand that your department is developing a new park near Queenston. At the request of Mr. Torrance, we are submitting some information which may or may not be of value to you in the process of choosing a name for the new park. Please regard these only as simple suggestions; and if you have other plans which you feel may be more appropriate, by all means pursue those alternatives.
The role of the native Indian Warrior is an area which was crucial in the outcome of the battle of Queenston Heights, but has remained for the most part unclear. Recently, however, new documents have been uncovered, which have clarified the action of October 13, 1812.
Basically, the story began early in the morning of October 13. A large group of 6 Nations or Iroquois and a few other warriors were encamped near Fort George. When the battle began, they ran to Queenston and arrived just after Brock had been killed. No resistance was then being offered the enemy who were crossing the Niagara. The Warriors attacked the Americans and thus prevented them from digging into a fortified position on the Heights. When Sheaffe arrived later in the afternoon, his successful counter-attack (in which the warriors participated), was made easier by the fact that the Americans had not had time to fortify their position because of their skirmishes with the warriors.
A second aspect of the battle was psychological. At a crucial stage in the battle, nearly 2,000 New York Militia refused to cross the river to help their comrades at Queenston. Some sources indicate that a fear of the Indian Warrior was largely responsible for this. Several notable warriors were present at Queenston such as John Brant and John Bearfoot, however, the most important was their war chief John Norton.
Norton was not an Iroquois, nor was he born in North America. His father was a Cherokee, and his mother Scottish (his birthplace was Scotland). Norton joined the British Army and was sent to North America. After his discharge, he became a fur trader in the Ohio Valley. Later, he moved to the Grand River and developed a close friendship with Joseph Brant. Norton became a Mohawk by adoption, and on Brant's death was appointed head chief of the Iroquois Confederacy.
During the War of 1812, Norton led bands of warriors at nearly every major battle in Southern Ontario. Queenston Heights (where he was wounded), was one of his more notable battles. He was mentioned in official dispatches, and was given a great deal of credit for the victory.
"E 8 Sir Roger Sheaffe to Prevost
(P.R.O., CO.42,v.352,pp. 164-5)
Fort George, 13 October 1812
... the Enemy made an attack with a considerable force this morning before day light on the position of Queenston; on receiving information of it, Major General Brock immediately proceeded to
that Post, and I cannot express my grief in having to add that he fell while gallantly cheering his Troops to an exertion for maintaining it with him the Position was lost, but the Enemy was not allowed
to retain it long. Reinforcements having been sent up from this Post,
composed of Regular Troops, Militia and Indians, a movement was made to turn his left, while some field Artillery . . . supported by a
Body of Infantry, engaged his attention in front---this operation
was soon effected, and its success is chiefly to be ascribed to
the judicious position taken by Norton and the Indians with him---
on the woody brow of the high ground above Queenstown---a communication being thus opened with Chippawa, a junction was formed with further Succours that had been ordered from that Post---the Enemy was then attacked, and after a short but spirited conflict, he was completely defeated. ... I cannot now deny myself the Satisfaction of assuring your Excellency that the spirit and good Conduct of His Majesty's Troops, of the Militia, of the other Provincial Corps, and of the Indians, were eminently conspicuous on this Occasion."
After the War, Norton became a farmer/trader/missionary at Grand River. He lived comfortably for some time, but this was interrupted a few years later. Norton killed a man in a duel and left the Grand River area, never to return.
If you wish to commemorate the Indian participation at Queenston, John Norton Park, Mohawk Park or Iroquois Park may be appropriate.
Should we be able to offer any assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us. May we take this opportunity to wish you a great deal of success in the opening of the new Park.
Yours very truly,
Original Signed by D. J. Glenney
for Walter Haldorson
Niagara National Historic Park