Our winning the War of 1812 was a crucial part of Canadian history and the only reason we’re a country today. The reason why? Mostly cause of what happened at Stoney Creek Battlefield House.
A Big Upset
The only war fought on Canadian soil and why the British stayed in North America. Historic remnants are found all over Southern Ontario reminding us of the heroes and violence.
Niagara was targeted most. The gateway to British Upper Canada and the focus of American forces. If that region falls, it was believe so would the country.
And if you think we won the War of 1812 easily, call your history teacher and tell them they did a bad job.
The Brits lost big —
General Brock died in battle at Queenston Heights, not far from the then capital (now Niagara-on-the-Lake).
American forces took control of the region, chasing the Brits out. Beaten and wounded they retreated to Burlington Heights (where Hamilton Cemetery is today).
The Americans wanted to put an end to the war. They marched to Stoney Creek and made camp at the Gage family farm (now Stoney Creek Battlefield House). The Gage family tied up in the basement as soldiers settled in.
And from a nearby hill, a 19-year-old boy named Billy Green watched everything. He’d get secret camp information from his brother-in-law and rode. Green arrived at Burlington Heights by 11 pm.
A surprise night attack was their only chance as 800 wounded British marched towards 1400 Americans. And as you learned in school, they won the Battle of Stoney Creek.
If the Battle of Stoney Creek didn’t happen, if the British were attacked at Burlington Heights, they would have lost. Upper Canada (now Ontario) would have fallen, and Canada would be very different today.
Mary Jones Gage
She was the widow of a loyalist officer who died fighting in the American Revolution. No husband to help support the family, Mary would take the offer of the British. Swear allegiance to the crown and get free land in Upper Canada.
She accepted. Mary Jones Gage and her kids James and Elizabeth rowed a canoe up the old waterway and settled in Saltfleet (now Stoney Creek).
Augusta Street and Gage —
One of the reasons Mary chose Saltfleet, to join her brother Augustus Jones.
He’s best known as a surveyor in Barton and is credited for recording maps of everything from Fort Erie to the Head of the Lake (now Hamilton). Hamilton named a street after him… called Augusta.
Mary built a home and started farming, planning to run the family until her son James became of age. Most likely just wanting a peaceful life away from the violent war that killed her husband.
It’s possible Mary Gage had the worst luck of anyone in Canadian history.
The Gage family survived the Battle of Stoney Creek. Mary Jones Gage died inside the house in the year 1839 at almost 100 years old.
She was resting in First United Church Cemetery (once at King St E & Wellington St N, now First Place Apartments)… key phrase, WAS.
Mary’s still at home
**For more ghost stories of Stoney Creek Battlefield House, join us on a Ghost Bus Tour of Hamilton
Employees were stressed by antiques randomly disappearing inside the house. Once carefully setup in a room, on a table or inside a cabinet. Tour guides might first notice an empty space, a clear square in light dust on a counter.
‘Was something here?’, they’d think, then remember and desperately search the house. Not finding it, day after day racking their brains for anything.
Then on the eve of their insanity, worried it was their fault, maybe a guest stole it on a tour. And just before they resign, the priceless artifact returns somewhere inside the house.
Over and over it happened until the staff got wise. The strange part, only Mary’s old possessions move around the house.
That mixed with electronics failing and restless energy. It’s thought Mary Jones Gage haunts the Battlefield House. But why is she restless?
Why Mary is Restless
Grave robbing once happened. Popular in the 1800’s, fresh corpses fetched a high price at local medical schools when human dissection was outlawed. An interesting fact, but not one which explains what happened at First United Cemetery.
Mary was dead for over 130 years when First United Church burned down in Hamilton in September 1969. The land sold off and slated for the First Place Apartments. The final task before building… they had to move bodies.
Carefully planned. First a plot with plaque was setup in Woodland Cemetery. Then over a few days, workers transported coffins and stones.
At the end of one day, the job not down, workers would leave the site at First United Cemetery. Unattended overnight, but no one could have guessed what would happen.
They arrived in the morning to find three things were stolen. A headstone, a coffin, and inside… Mary Jones Gage.
To this day no closure has been given. Nobody but a strange, twisted thief knows whatever happened to the body of Mary Jones Gage. That’s why she’s so restless inside Stoney Creek Battlefield House.
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