Friends of Fort Ontario

 Refugee Monument

Fort Ontario to Host Refugee Walk June 20

On Saturday, June 20th Friends of Fort Ontario will host a free history walk in observance of World Refugee Day at Fort Ontario State Historic Site. The walk around the grounds of the former 75 acre Fort Ontario Military Reservation will tell the story of the 986 mostly Jewish refugees from the Nazi Holocaust who lived at the old fort from 1944-1946. The walk will begin at 2:00 pm and the course is approximately one mile long; it will proceed at a slow pace and will highlight the sites of significant events at the shelter.

In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing June 20th as World Refugee Day to honor the refugee populations in the world. June 20th, 2001, the fiftieth anniversary of the 1951 Convention on the status of refugees, was designated as the first World Refugee Day.

The Fort Ontario Refugee Shelter was established by Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt; from August 1944 to February1946 it served as the only refugee shelter in the United States for mostly Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. The walk will be led by AmeriCorps member Shannon Cilento who is implementing programming to bridge history and fitness.  Fort Superintendent Paul Lear, Curator Jennifer Emmons, and others will assist with the walk.

The walk will begin at the refugee monument by the post cemetery and overlook parking lot. Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East 4th Street in the City of Oswego, NY. For more information please contact Shannon Cilento at (315) 343-4711, or [shannon.cilento@parks.ny.gov].