Barracks & Cookhouse

Artist's reconstruction of the Soldier's area of the Fort, based on Wilfred Jury's archaeology in the 1950s
Artist’s rendition of the Soldier’s area of the Fort, based on the 1950s archaeology of Wilfred Jury
Example of a War of 1812 soldier
An example of a soldier from the War of 1812

Researcher Name: Regan Rigolo, Grade 12

Life in the Barracks

The Soldier’s barracks would be used to house the troops and give them a place to sleep and live. The barracks were part of a group of three buildings: the soldier’s cookhouse, the soldier’s barracks, and storehouses.

The barracks were probably built around 1814. In a military survey done of the site in 1820 this area of the site was home to 3 storehouses, a log dwelling house, a log cook house, a stable, and the remains of five log houses.

The type of bed most common during the War of 1812 was the berth. Typically, these berths would be one or two tiers depending on the size of the barracks, with each tier holding two soldiers. Berths were in poor condition in many garrisons with rot, missing parts, and insects. There was also some instances of them being used so much that people on the top tiers of the berths would fall through the top and end up landing on the bottom berth where another soldier would be sleeping. Each soldier was given five separate items for bedding: A bolster (essentially a pillow), a Pailliasse (a thin mattress stuffed with straw), sheets, blankets, and finally a rug.

Tables in the barracks had two benches to sit on. When set for dinner, the table would have simple plates, drinking vessels, and eating utensils. In Britain, each soldier would be supplied with a plate. However, in Canada this was not the case; each man was required to get his own plate, with many using tin plates. While not needed, many men would bring their own drinking vessel to meals.

Morning Routine of a Soldier

A soldier in the British military of the time lived a very structured life. He would wake up at 3:30 from March to September, and during the colder months of the year two hours before sunrise. Once awake, he was expected to make his bed immediately according to the regulations. The soldiers would then all wash with water supplied from the barrack bucket. Then they would have their morning parade around 5:15. After being checked by the officers to make sure all soldiers were clean and properly dressed, they would drill for two hours while the barracks were inspected. Finally around 9 am they would eat Bread, milk, and tea for breakfast before beginning their daily tasks.


“A soldier’s morning in the barracks! | 1812.” Canadian War Museum – Musée canadien de la guerre. N.p., Morning routine n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013.

Bacon, Keith. The Story of Fort Willow and the Nine Mile Portage. N/A: N/A, 2000.

Henderson, Robert. “”Good Morning” Waking up as a British Soldier in the War of 1812.” Morning routine N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. .

Henderson, Robert. “Furniture and Utensils of a Soldiers Mess in Barracks during the War of 1812 – Barracks of 1812 British Army.” War of 1812 History Articles, Bicentennial News, Pictures, Book reviews, Reenactment Events, Quizzes, SoundClips, Links….. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. .

“Military parade – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Morning routine Web. 28 Apr. 2013. of soldier


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