10 September

British Lose to Captain Perry on Lake Erie

September 10, 1813, was a black day for British forces in Canada. The key to the situation was the naval strength on Lake Eric; the British needed superiority there in order to supply Colonel Procter's force (see October 5) . The job was entrusted to Captain Robert Barclay. His opposite number for the Americans was Captain Perry.

Five of the American ships were at Black Rock, near the entrance to the Niagara River, but they could not get out because they would have been shelled by British guns at Fort Eric. Perry's ships at Presqu'Isle (now Erie, Pennsylvania) were also in a had position. There was a sandbar at the entrance to the harbour and the heavy warships could not sail over it unless they were buoyed up by barges on either side. They would be easy targets for British warships outside the harbour.

Then carne the turning point. The British gunners had to leave Fort Erie to help repel an American invasion of the Niagara Peninsula. This enabled Perry's ships to leave Black Rock. Captain Barclay, for some mysterious reason, relaxed his guard at the entrance to Presqu'Isle and Perry took advantage of the lapse to get his warships over the sandbar. The American warships were united and free to operate on Lake Erie.

Colonel Procter was in a desperate situation. Barclay, knowing he had to provide supply ships for him, had no other alternative but to attack Perry's fleet. He had only six ships to the Americans' nine. He did not even have proper guns, but had to take what he could from Fort Malden and install them on his ships, although they were not suitable.

Barclay knew he had little chance of success, but he had to try. The rival fleets met on the morning of September 10 and after three hours of skilful, desperate fighting, the Americans won a complete victory. Two days later, Perry was able to send his famous message scribbled on the back of an old letter: "We have met the enemy and they are ours." The defeat made it impossible for Procter to hold the Detroit sector.


10 September

-1621    King James I granted William Alexander all the territory between the St. Lawrence and the sea which lay east of the St. Croix River.

              Acadia became Nova Scotia.

-1755   The expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia began.

-1895     The Sault-Ste-Marie Canal was opened.

-1939    Canada declared war on Germany.

-1951    Canada and Pakistan signed a technical assistance pact, with Canada providing $10 million aid in the first year.

              The foreign ministers of Great Britain, France, and the United States met in Washington, D.C., for a conference on measures to contain Soviet aggression.

-1959    The Honourable Paul Sauvé was chosen to succeed the late Maurice Duplessis as Premier of the Province of Quebec.

-1960    Halifax International Airport was opened.

-1962    The bank rate was reduced from 6 percent to 51/2 per cent and exchange reserves were increased as a result of the emergency austerity program.

-1964    The House of Commons consented to appoint a special committee to consider and report upon the flag question.