Historic & Heritage Sites
Add this location
to my itinerary
John Norton's Story at Queenston Heights
Queenston Heights is the most famous battlefield from the War of 1812 that exists within Niagara. While entering the park, heroes such as Sir Issac Brock and Laura Secord are instantly recognized signifying their importance and historical stories. Aside from the main military heroes there are many other figures whose stories go untold. John Norton, the leader of Six Nations warriors in the War of 1812, made significant and strategic moves during the Battle of Queenston Heights. His story is vital to our cultural heritage in the Niagara Region.
John Norton's Story
John Norton was born in the early 1760's of a Cherokee father and a Scottish mother. After running away to join the army, and soon after deserting the army, Norton established a connection with the Six Nations at Grand River. Norton was extrememly inspirted by the Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant and quickly picked up the Mohawk language, the culture and was adopted into the Native community.
During the outbreak of the War of 1812, Norton was quick to join General Issac Brock in order to support the British during the war. It is important to note that many of the Six Nations joined the War, not just to support the British, but to fight for what they believed were their traditional lands.
John Norton played a very significant role within the War of 1812 in terms of providing the British and Canadian soldiers with a vital weapon—Aboriginal aide. John Norton, Mohawk Chief Warrior, convinced and led hundreds of Six Nation warriors to help the British during the Battle of Queenston Heights. Painted in black and red, as a symbol of commitment, John Norton led his warriors alongside the British, coming out victorious. Many historians argue that John Norton and his warriors played more than just a significant part in winning this battle. It was recognized that the Americans were terrified of the Native warriors; hearing and seeing the savages made them dread a terrible death.
“If the war paint failed to serve its purpose and petrify the soldiers, they were frozen by the horrible howls and shrieks the wailing warriors made when they attacked. The savage sound that deafened the ear and horrified the heart frequently made even the bravest drop his weapon and flee. Soldiers heard no orders, felt no shame and retained no sensibility but the dread of a terrible death. Many were shattered forever by the shock of contact and conflict with Native warriors.” --W.R Wilson, Historical Narratives.
Today at Queenston Heights there is a small tribute in memory of John Norton and the hundreds of Six Nation Warriors (top Right Picture) that fought to help the British and Canadians win the battle. The story of John Norton and his ability to lead and convince Six Nations warriors in aiding the British during the War of 1812 is vital to our Niagara heritage and history. Without the contribution of the Six Nations, it is highly likely that the British would not have succeeded during the Battle of Queenston Heights.
TripClip Audio File
Click to play or download the John Norton Story TripClip (mp3 format).
This destination is also part of the TripClip tour entitled 'Heroic Stories of 1812: The Forgotten Heroes Tour.
Take Queen Elizabeth Way (Niagara) over the Garden City Skyway in St. Catharines
Left at King's Highway 405
Take the Stanley Avenue exit toward County Road-102/Niagara Falls
Keep left at the fork, follow signs for Niagara Parkway
Continue onto Portage Road
At the roundabout, take the second exit onto Niagara Parkway and follow signs for Queenston Heights Park
Take Queen Elizabeth Way toward TORONTO from QEW BUFFALO/FORT ERIE
Take Exit 34 for RR 101/MOUTAIN RD
Turn RIGHT onto MOUNTAIN RD EAST
Turn LEFT onto ST PAUL AVE/RR 100
Turn RIGHT onto NIAGARA TOWNLINE RD
Continue onto PORTAGE RD
At the roundabout, take the third exit into Queenston Height Park
On October 13th 1812 the battle of Queenston Heights was fought as the result of an American attempt to establish a foothold on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. At first quite successful, the Americans were able to reach the top of the Heights. The British however, found an additional route to Queenston Heights, catching the Americans by surprise by the sudden appearance of the red wave of British and Canadian soldiers. All the while the wail of whooping warriors painted black and red added to their panic and certainty of a painful death.
The battlefield of Queenston Heights was a strategic location for the British during the war. Today it has been preserved in order to tell cultural and historical stories through its scenic landscape of the Niagara River, a collection of beautiful limestone monuments and tall detailed plaques.
Queenston Heights is the site of the most famous battle from the War of 1812 and commemorates many heroes that played a significant role during the battle. The most recognizable feature of Queenston Heights Park is the Brock Monument that stands so high it reaches well above the tallest tree of the Niagara escarpment.
The Six Nations warriors played a significant role in the war, and their history at this site is not clearly represented. However, there are future plans of a Six Nations artist to create a legitimate Six Nations monument in Queenston Heights Park representing their important contribution to the Battle of Queenston Heights. For more information, read Dan Dankin's article, "Bigger Monument Honouring Native Soliders Efforts in War of 1812 planned for Queenston Heights", provided below.
Wilson, W.R. 2011.“Sheaffe & Queenston Heights” Historical Narratives of EarlyCanada
Dakin, Dan. 2011."Bigger Monument honouring native soldiers efforts in War of 1812 planned for Queenston Heights". Niagara Falls Review. http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/2011/11/23/bigger-monument-honouring-native-soldiers-efforts-in-war-of-1812-planned-for-queenston-heights