Get off the Beaten Path: 5 Unique Places to Visit in Amherstburg
Not so off the beaten path but often overlooked is the Commissariat located in the middle of the King’s Navy Yard Park. Built in 1831 for the office of the Commissariat, it is now an interpretive centre and museum for Amherstburg’s Provincial Marine Reenactment Unit. While visiting, you may catch a glimpse of someone in historic dress strolling through the garden, or see others firing a cannon for high noon. This building is the historic heartbeat of the King’s Navy Yard Park and Provincial Marine.
Christ Church used the skills of those working in the King’s Naval Yard in the construction of its site. If you get the opportunity to peek inside, you will notice the ceiling appears similar to the hull of a ship! It is the oldest church in the county and home to a very unique cemetery. It is believed that the bricks used to build this church came from another historic site, the Belle Vue National Historic Site.
Belle Vue National Historic Site is a remarkable building with several historic designations. It was the home of the family of Robert Reynolds, who oversaw the activity of the Commissariat. Currently it is being restored, but just a glimpse of it from roadside leaves a lasting impression of its previous glory days. Upon completion of its restoration, this site will again be the crown jewel of Amherstburg.
Not far down the road from this majestic site is the Simon Girty Memorial, a tree stump carved of stone. It is not grand in stature, but the story it represents is fascinating. Simon Girty settled in Amherstburg and for ten years continued to lead or encourage western First Nations in their warfare with the Americans. Although he was exiled in 1812 by the Americans, he continued to reside at his home until his death. Described as ‘one of the most colourful and controversial settlers in the New Settlement’, he died in 1818, and was buried on his homestead with military honours.
From the Simon Girty Memorial you can see Boblo Island, home to two historic sites that are off the beaten path. The Boblo Island Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes (1863) and designated a heritage lighthouse by Parks Canada. Neighbouring is the Blockhouse. During the Rebellion of 1837-1838, the original defenses on Boblo Island (then Bois Blanc) were replaced in 1839 by three new blockhouses. Today the one remaining blockhouse has been reconstructed to maintain its historic integrity and is now accessible to visitors. Ferry fees apply to visit Boblo Island. Call Bill in advance for blockhouse tours, 519-818-1948.