Reading ESL stories and readings in English for ESL learners

fort henry

Fort Henry is a tourist attraction in Kingston Ontario.


Fort Henry and the War of 1812

In 1812 Canada was not yet a country. It was a British colony and part of British North America. British North America was divided into three provinces, Upper Canada, Lower Canada and Ruperts Land. What is now southern Ontario was Upper Canada. What is now southern Quebec and Labrador was Lower Canada. Ruperts Land was the rest of what is now eastern Canada.

In July of 1812 the Americans invaded British North America. Many battles were fought in both Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Some of the battles were on land. Some were sea battles (battles between ships) on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, or on the St. Lawrence River. There were not many roads so transportation by water was very important. Both sides invaded each other’s territory but those invasions were either unsuccessful or temporary. When the war ended in 1814 the border with the United States remained the same as it was in 1812. The border included the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. It is still the border between Canada and the United States.

Fort Henry is on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River at Kingston where the St. Lawrence River widens into Lake Ontario. The original Fort Henry was built by the British during the War of 1812. A bigger and stronger fort was built between 1832 and 1837 to protect Lake Ontario from any future attack from the United States. There were also naval shipyards in Kingston that the British wanted to protect. Also, the fort helped protect the Rideau Canal which was an important waterway between Kingston and Ottawa.

There hasn’t been another war between Canada and the United States and Fort Henry has never been attacked. Today Fort Henry is a tourist attraction.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Fort Henry was attacked by the Americans in the 1830's. Yes or no?

2. Fort Henry was built by the British. Yes or no?

3. Fort Henry is on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. Yes or no?

4. The War of 1812 ended in 1814. Yes or no?

5. Fort Henry is now a tourist attraction in Kingston. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. The __________________ Fort Henry was built during the War of 1812.

7. Fort Henry is in Ontario. In 1812 it was in ___________________ Canada.

8. The British had naval __________________ in Kingston.

9. The St. Lawrence River was an important ______________________ because most transportation was by ______________________ in 1812.

10. During the War of 1812 there were sea battles (battles between ships) on both Lake _____________ and Lake __________________.

11. Today Fort Henry is a __________________________________________.

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alaska

map of Alaska and the Yukon Territory


Klondike Goldrush of 1896

The Klondike Goldrush started in August 1896 when gold was found in the Bonanza Creek near Dawson City. Bonanza Creek is a tributary of the Klondike River. This area of the Yukon became known as the Klondike Gold Fields.

This area is also very mountainous and in 1896 there were no roads or railways. It was very difficult for people to reach the Klondike Gold Fields and many people risked their lives to search for gold. If you had enough money, you could go by boat to the western coast of Alaska where the Yukon River flows to the Bering Sea. Boats could then take you up the Yukon River to Dawson City. The more popular route to the Klondike was by boat to Skagway Alaska and then north on foot over the mountains to the Yukon River. The journey was even more difficult because the Yukon River was frozen most of the year. Boat trips on the river could only be made from mid-May to mid-October.

About 100,000 people tried to make the journey to Dawson City but many people gave up and turned back. Only about 40,000 people made it to Dawson City.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. About 100,000 people made it to Dawson City during the Gold Rush of 1896. Yes or no?

2. Gold was first found in the Bonanza Creek. Yes or no?

3. The Klondike Gold Fields were easy to get to. Yes or no?

4. The Yukon River flows to the Bering Sea. Yes or no?

5. People could travel by boat on the Yukon River only in the summer. Yes or no?

6. The town of Dawson City is in British Columbia. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

7. In 1896 there were no ____________________ or railways in the Klondike.

8. The Yukon River flows through __________________________ and the Yukon Territory.

9. The Bonanza Creek is a ______________________ of the Klondike River.

>> Answers
henry hudson

Map showing the routes that Henry Hudson took in 1609 and 1610.

Henry Hudson & the Northwest Passage

To find the Northwest Passage, a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, was the goal of many sailors for centuries. European countries wanted to find a route to China and the Far East. In 1497 the French explorer, John Cabot, was the first to attempt to find a route. He was not successful.

In 1610 the British sailor, Henry Hudson tried to find the Northwest Passage. He set sail from England in his boat Discovery in June 1610. When Hudson sailed into what is now Hudson Bay, he thought that he had found the Pacific Ocean. Even though winter was coming, Hudson did not want to return to England. Because he thought that he was in the Pacific Ocean, he headed south to what he thought would be warmer temperatures. Instead of finding warmth, the sailors on the Discovery encountered a dead end in what is now James Bay. James Bay froze in the winter and Hudson and his men were forced to spend the winter there.

The ice did not break up until June 1611. Henry Hudson wanted to continue westward but his crew wanted to return to England. There was a mutiny. Henry, his son John, and some other crew members were put in a small boat and left behind. The rest of the crew sailed back to England on the Discovery. Henry Hudson was never heard from again.

In 1906 a Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, was the first sailor to take a boat through the Northwest Passage. It took him three years to do it. It wasn’t until 1944 that a ship was able to navigate through the Northwest Passage in one season (one Arctic summer). Even today few boats travel through the Northwest Passage because the route is difficult and the Arctic is frozen for many months of the year.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. John Cabot was a French explorer. Yes or no?

2. Henry Hudson died in England. Yes or no?

3. Henry Hudson thought that Hudson Bay was the Pacific Ocean.

4. The Northwest Passage is used all year long. Yes or no?

5. In June 1611, Henry Hudson's crew returned to England. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. Europeans wanted to find a route to ___________________.

7. Henry Hudson sailed from____________________ in the year _________________ in the Discovery.

8. Roald Amundsen was from __________________________.

9. The ________________________________________ is a difficult sea route through the Arctic Ocean.

10. In 1944 the first ship navigated the Northwest Passage in __________________________________.

>> Answers
simcoe

Statue of John Graves Simcoe, Queens Park,  Toronto.

John Graves Simcoe,

In 1791 John Graves Simcoe became the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. In 1791 Upper Canada was a new province. It was created by the British government when they divided their colony of Quebec into two provinces, Upper Canada and Lower Canada, under the Constitutional Act of 1791. Upper Canada was modern-day southern Ontario. Lower Canada was modern-day southern Quebec and Labrador.

John Graves Simcoe founded the town of York (now called Toronto) and made it the capital of Upper Canada. He introduced courts of law and trial by jury. He abolished slavery in Upper Canada. He also began construction on two main roads, Yonge Street and Dundas Street. Yonge Street was built north from the town of York on Lake Ontario. Dundas Street which was built between the towns of York and London. These roads were to help in the defence of Canada in case of war against the United States. These roads also helped encourage settlement and trade. They were the first main roads built in what is now Ontario. Before there were roads, rivers were the main transportation routes.

Simcoe was Lieutenant Governor until 1796. He died in England in 1806 at the age of 54 years.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. John Graves Simcoe died in Upper Canada. Yes or no?

2. Yonge Street was one of the roads that John Graves Simcoe began building. Yes or no?

3. Upper Canada was a British colony. Yes or no?

4. John Graves Simcoe was the first Lieutenant of Lower Canada. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

5. In 1791 the colony of _____________ was divided into two provinces.

6. Toronto used to be called _____________________.

7. John Graves Simcoe began construction on ___________ main roads, Yonge Street and _______________ Street.

8. Simcoe abolished __________________ in Upper Canada.

9. He set up courts of _____________ in Upper Canada.

10. John Graves Simcoe died in ______________ .

>> Answers
casa loma

Casa Loma, Toronto.

Casa Loma

Casa Loma sits on a hill overlooking downtown Toronto. Construction on Casa Loma began in 1911. Three hundred men worked for three years to build Casa Loma. Casa Loma cost three and a half million dollars to build ($3,500,00). When it was finished, Casa Loma had 98 rooms, 25 fireplaces and two secret passageways. Behind Casa Loma, and across the street, there is second building with the Hunting Lodge, stables and a garage. The two buildings are connected by an underground tunnel.

The house was built for Sir Henry Pellatt and his wife Mary. They did not live in it for very long because they ran out of money and could not afford to live there. They moved out in 1923 and in 1933 Casa Loma was seized by the city of Toronto because of the property taxes on Casa Loma had not been paid. Casa Loma is now a museum and you can tour the buildings and gardens.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. It took one year to build Casa Loma. Yes or no?

2. Sir Henry Pellatt and his wife lived in Casa Loma for a long time. Yes or no?

3. Casa Loma was seized by the city of Toronto in 1933. Yes or no?

4. Casa Loma is now a museum. Yes or no?

5. It took three thousand men to build Casa Loma. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. Sir Henry Pellatt's wife's name was _________________.

7. Casa Loma has two _________________ passageways.

8. Casa Loma was built on a ________________ overlooking downtown ____________________.

9. The Pellatts had to leave Casa Loma because they ran out of ____________________.

>> Answers
halifax explosion

postcard, Halifax Explosion.


Halifax Explosion, 1917

On December 6th 1917, a French ship with a cargo of explosives collided with another ship in Halifax Harbour. The French ship, the SS Mont Blanc, started to burn and then it exploded. The ship was totally destroyed. The explosion started many fires in the city. Many buildings in Halifax were destroyed. Trees were bent and broken. Two thousand people died in the explosion or in the fires. About 9000 people were injured.

 Halifax is a city in Nova Scotia. During World War 1 Halifax was an important harbour and port town. It is large enough for big ships. It doesn’t freeze in the winter. War supplies such as food, weapons, explosives and soldiers were sent from Canada and the United States to Europe. Many of these supplies were sent by ship from Halifax. The SS Mont Blanc was one of these ships. The explosives that she was carrying were being shipped to Europe for the war

 

 

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. About 9000 people died in the Halifax Explosion. Yes or no?

2. The SS Mont Blanc was carrying explosives. Yes or no?

3. The SS Mont Blanc had just arrived from Europe. Yes or no?

4. The city of Halifax has a large harbour. Yes or no?

5. Halifax Harbour freezes in the winter. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. The city of Halifax is in __________________________

7. The SS Mont Blanc was a ship from _____________________. It was a _________________ ship.

8. War supplies are things like food, _______________________, _____________________ and soldiers.

9. The SS Mont Blanc ______________ with another ship in Halifax Harbour.

10. Many buildings and trees were __________________ by the explosion.

11. About 9000 people were __________________ by the explosion.

>> Answers
macdonald


 statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, Queens Park, Toronto

 Sir John A. Macdonald

Sir John A. Macdonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada. He was born in Scotland in 1815. When he was a boy his family moved to Upper Canada. He grew up in Kingston Ontario. He became a lawyer and a politician.

As a politician, he helped bring the provinces of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick together to form the Dominion of Canada. He was one of the 36 Fathers of Confederation. These were men who met at conferences in Charlottetown (PEI) and Quebec City in 1864 to make plans to unite the provinces. They made decisions about what system of government they would have. They also made decisions about laws and the legal system.

When Canada became a country on 1 July 1867, Sir John A. Macdonald was appointed as the first Prime Minister. Sir John A. Macdonald was Prime Minister of Canada from 1867 to 1873 and then again between 1878 and 1891. He died on 6 June 1891 while he was still Prime Minister, and just a few months after winning an election.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Sir John A. Macdonald was born in Scotland. Yes or no?

2. The Dominion of Canada was formed in 1867. Yes or no?

3. Sir John A. Macdonald was the Prime Minister of Canada from 1867 to 1891. Yes or no?

4. Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined together to form the Dominion of Canada. Yes or no?

5. There were twenty six Fathers of Confederation. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. Sir John A. Macdonald grew up in Kingston which was in ___________ Canada.

7. There were two ________________ in 1864, one in Charlottetown and one in Quebec City.

8. Sir John A. Macdonald died just after the _____________ in 1891.

9. Sir John A. Macdonald was __________________ as the first Prime Minister.

10. The Fathers of Confederation helped to decide what system of ______________ Canada would have.

11. The laws of a country are part of the ______________ system of that country.

>> Answers

Answers:


Fort Henry and the War of 1812

1. no, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. yes, 5. yes

6. original, 7. Upper, 8. shipyards, 9. waterway/boat or ship or water, 10. Erie/Ontario, 11. tourist attraction

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Klondike Goldrush of 1896

1. no, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. yes, 5. yes, 6. no

7. roads, 8. Alaska, 9. tributary

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Henry Hudson & the Northwest Passage

1. yes, 2. no, 3. yes, 4. no, 5. yes

6. China or the Far East, 7. England/1610, 8. Norway, 9. Northwest Passage, 10. one season

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John Graves Simcoe

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. no,

5. Quebec, 6. York, 7. two/Dundas, 8. slavery, 9.law, 10. England or 1806

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Casa Loma

1. no, 2. no, 3. yes, 4. yes, 5. no

6. Mary, 7. secret, 8. hill/Toronto, 9.money,

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The Halifax Explosion, 1917

1. no, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. yes, 5. no

6. Nova Scotia, 7. France/French, 8. explosives/weapons, 9. collided, 10. destroyed, 11. injured.

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Sir John A. Macdonald

1. yes, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. yes, 5. no,

6. Upper, 7. conferences, 8. election, 9. appointed, 10. government, 11. legal

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