Damn Yankees are trying to steal our victory in 1812 - Macleans.ca

Damn Yankees are trying to steal our victory in 1812

As plans are made to commemorate the War of 1812, the U.S. tries to re-write the ending

Damn Yankees

Fanshawe Pioneer Village, London, Ont. (Colin O'Connor/Maclean's)

Meet Col. Joel Stone, Canada’s newest hero of the War of 1812.

Born in Connecticut in 1749, Stone moved to Upper Canada during the tumult of the American Revolution and settled at Gananoque, in eastern Ontario along the St. Lawrence River, where he opened a sawmill and got himself appointed to a variety of government posts, including commander of the local militia. But his quiet life as a gentleman settler ended when the United States declared war in June 1812. Suddenly Col. Stone and his small community found themselves in the midst of the fight for Canada.

The St. Lawrence was the British army’s sole supply route to Upper Canada and the Great Lakes. If the American military cut river access, the whole province, from Kingston to what is now Windsor, would inevitably fall to the invaders. If Canada was to exist as an independent country, Col. Stone and the Gananoque militia had to keep their part of this vital supply route open.

A challenge wasn’t long in coming. On Sept. 21, 1812, in one of the first engagements of the war, a raiding party led by Capt. Benjamin Forsyth, and comprising 100 skilled riflemen from North Carolina and Virginia, attacked Gananoque in a night raid. Their aim: create havoc, control the river and starve the British army.

“Colonel Joel Stone, commanding the Gananoque militia, successfully defended Gananoque during the first raid into Canada by American troops from Sackets Harbor during the War of 1812,” reads a recent release from the federal government, recollecting the efforts of Col. Stone and his men that night long ago. To commemorate this important but little-known battle, Ottawa is paying half of the $600,000 cost to build the Joel Stone Heritage Park—a tribute to “the founder of Gananoque and a local hero of the War of 1812.”

With the bicentennial of the war fast approaching, Canadians can expect to hear a lot more about Col. Stone and many other familiar and unfamiliar names from the conflict. It’s often said that Canada suffers from an excess of geography and a deficit of history, and so the anniversary is a rare and welcome opportunity for the entire country to celebrate a time of daunting heroes, dangerous invaders, grave perils and miraculous triumphs. Over the next three years, Ottawa is undertaking a massive campaign to remind everyone of the drama and importance of these 200-year-old stories. Expect plenty of period-dress re-enactments, well-publicized investments in existing historical sites, a new national war memorial at Parliament Hill and plenty of money for smaller local commemorations, like Col. Stone’s park.

The defence of Canada between 1812 and 1814 should be seen as a foundational moment for modern Canada. What was a disparate group of recent immigrants spread across a broad and lonely frontier became, once the war was over, a burgeoning nation with a distinct Canadian identity. The War of 1812 is as significant to the birth of Canada as Confederation. And considerably more action-packed.

Yet if war is the continuance of politics by other means, the War of 1812 may well prove the opposite is true as well. Canada is not the only former combatant gearing up for the bicentennial. Our former adversaries, those rebellious and aggressive Americans, are planning their own commemorations, and with a different take on the war. They think they won.

If Canada intends to claim victory in the War of 1812 we’re going to have to fight for it. All over again.

Often called the “forgotten war” by historians, the War of 1812 has, until now, occupied a rather small corner of the Canadian collective consciousness. Sir Isaac Brock and Laura Secord are well-known names, but largely because they’ve been appropriated for other purposes—a university and candy company. Keen history buffs may recall a few notable addresses, such as Queenston Heights, Crysler’s Farm or Lundy’s Lane, but these glimmers of recognition typically pale in comparison to the mighty nation-building narratives built around Confederation, the construction of the CPR or Vimy Ridge.

By the time James Moore, the federal heritage minister, is finished, however, he expects all Canadians to understand the war’s importance. “Canadian identity was largely shaped by the War of 1812,” says Moore. “It was a fight for Canada and the beginning of our independence.”

Unusual for an historical event, the War of 1812 found itself a key plank in the federal Conservatives’ recent election platform, which promised a new national memorial in Ottawa, proper interment for soldiers’ remains from the battle of Stoney Creek, belated recognition of many Canadian militia units from the war and “hundreds of events and re-enactments across the country.” Later this month, Moore will unveil a new federal secretariat to oversee an $11.5-million War of 1812 commemoration fund.

“This war leads directly to Confederation in 1867,” Moore explains, ascribing the most basic characteristics of Canada—a constitutional monarchy, the preservation of a French-speaking Quebec, an accommodating native policy and our healthy economic and political relationship with the Americans—to the successful defence of Canada’s borders. “We were invaded and we repulsed that invasion. Because of the War of 1812 we grew up to be uniquely Canadian.”

Putting the heroes and storylines of the War of 1812 up on a national stage scratches a great many Conservative itches as well. It plays up the resurrected importance of the military in everyday Canadian life, emphasizes our ties to the British Crown and, according to Moore, strikes a blow against efforts of previous Liberal governments to define Canada as a series of modern Liberal accomplishments such as medicare and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “There is this leftist mythology that Canadian history began with the election of Pierre Trudeau and was solidified in 1982 with the signing of the Charter,” he gripes. “That’s utterly irresponsible. There is a Canadian identity that goes back much farther and we should be very proud of it.”

The War of 1812 had its origins in a maritime conflict between America and Britain. The British practice of intercepting American shipping to enforce a blockade against Napoleon Bonaparte’s Europe irked American pride and pushed Congress to declare war in June 1812. Britain was keen to avoid such a war, however, and immediately offered to rescind the practice. No matter, U.S. president James Madison authorized multiple invasions of Canada as the means to punish Britain. The main battle zone was to be Ontario, then called Upper Canada.

At the time war was declared, a majority of the 75,000 inhabitants in Upper Canada were recent American immigrants, lured across the border by cheap land and low taxes. Expecting to be greeted as compatriots and liberators, most Americans figured the conquest of Canada would be, to use former president Thomas Jefferson’s memorable phrase, “a mere matter of marching.”

Getting in the way of this walking holiday was the charismatic and energetic Gen. Brock. Facing invasion by a nation of 7.5 million, Brock had just 1,200 British troops and whatever help he could muster from natives and Canadian settlers to defend Upper Canada.

Despite these odds, Brock pulled off three stunning victories within the first few months of the war. He ordered the capture of the U.S. army outpost Fort Mackinac, at the strategic junction of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, before that garrison even knew war had been declared. Then he stunned the continent by bluffing a nervous U.S. Gen. William Hull into surrendering his entire army at Detroit without firing a shot. Two months later he died on the battlefield at Queenston Heights, near Niagara Falls, in the process of repelling another American force. Brock’s boldness embarrassed the Americans, encouraged Britain’s native allies to join the fight and rallied the population to the Union Jack.

The final two years of war proved much less invigorating, perhaps because Brock was no longer around. Each side traded victories and defeats in what became an increasingly bitter struggle. American forces burned Toronto, then called York, as well as Niagara-on-the-Lake. The British torched Buffalo, N.Y., and Washington, pillaged the width and breadth of Chesapeake Bay, and blockaded most of the eastern seaboard.

Significantly, though, every attempted incursion into Canada along the crucial St. Lawrence valley was turned aside, as much due to incompetent U.S. leadership and indifferent troops as to Canadian military prowess. Still, in 1813 a small force of Canadian-born soldiers under the command of Quebecer Charles de Salaberry defeated a far larger American army at Châteauguay, Que. This has become a signature moment in Canadian military mythology; Moore describes it as his favourite moment of the war.

By 1814, both sides were eager for peace. And yet the Treaty of Ghent, crafted on Christmas Eve 1814, was a curious agreement. All borders were left as they were prior to the war. And the original reason for the conflict, maritime law, wasn’t mentioned. It was as if the war never happened. To underline the oddity of it all, the biggest and bloodiest battle of the war, the Battle of New Orleans, occurred after the peace treaty had been signed.

This absence of a conclusive end to the war had its advantages for Canada. If Britain had kept northern Maine or the other bits of American territory it had captured by 1814, festering American resentment could have easily led to another war. Alternatively, if the War of 1812 had never happened, it’s possible Canada might have been overrun by American settlers in the same manner the U.S. grabbed California from Mexico. As it was, the war solidified the existing border, Canadians began to think of themselves as different from their neighbours, and the two countries learned to get along. “Only once the war was over did the settlers really start to consider themselves as Canadian,” remarks Alan Taylor, author of the recent political history of the conflict The Civil War of 1812.

This lack of a declared winner, however, has allowed the former combatants considerable licence in interpreting the war however they wish. History has always been subject to lively revision and prejudice, but the War of 1812 seems extraordinary in its diversity of interpretations.

Canadians, with the assistance of Ottawa, quite rightly tell themselves a story of how a few plucky British and Canadian soldiers fought off a massive American invasion and created for themselves a nation. It’s David versus Goliath in the woods of Ontario and Quebec.

That’s not a story likely to stir much interest south of the border. As aggressors who failed repeatedly in their attempts to conquer Canada, the war has always presented a dilemma for practised American mythmakers. “The land war has never played well in the U.S.,” observes Taylor. “So it has been shunted to the side and ignored. For Americans, the ‘real war’ was fought on the high seas.”

In declaring war on Britain, the U.S. put its six frigates up against the mighty 1,000-ship Royal Navy. And in the first few months of the war, this handful of ships scored several surprising one-on-one victories over British frigates. While these victories mattered little from a strategic point of view, they provided a competing David versus Goliath tale that has since allowed the U.S. to remember the entire conflict as a victory.

Stephen Budiansky is the author of last year’s Perilous Fight: America’s Intrepid War with Britain on the High Seas, 1812-1815, and typical of a long line of American writers who have picked up on this naval underdog narrative. The U.S. navy was the “unambiguous victor of the war,” Budiansky writes. He further claims the Americans achieved everything they wanted in the war, evidence of the peace treaty be damned. “We stood up to the mightiest sea power on earth. And after it was over, the British never again tried to mess with American ships,” he says in an interview. He then makes a rather bizarre analogy between the Vietnam War and the War of 1812, in which the Americans play the role of the Viet Cong. Whatever it takes to create a winner.

Of course, as Taylor notes, turning the War of 1812 into an American victory at sea requires ignoring everything that happened along the Canadian border. The origins of this national amnesia can be traced back to Theodore Roosevelt. Before he became president in 1901, Roosevelt wrote a celebrated history of the war that focused exclusively on those few American naval victories. Discussing the legendary Canadian defence at Châteauguay, for example, Roosevelt sniffed that “This affair . . . has been, absurdly enough, designated a ‘battle’ by most British and Canadian historians.” Rather, he explained, it barely rated a “small skirmish.” Defeat at Châteauguay? Never happened!

“The Americans have been getting away with this nonsense for two centuries,” grouses Canadian historian Donald Graves, one of Canada’s most prolific writers on the War of 1812. “In their version of the war, the fact that they got defeated doesn’t even rate a mention.”

This imperative to turn the War of 1812 into a victory for American audiences has carried through to upcoming bicentennial commemorations as well. Maryland has seized on the War of 1812 as a way to sell itself to tourists as the birthplace of the national anthem. Shortly after burning Washington, a British force attempted to take Baltimore, too. But after bombarding a nearby fort with a spectacular, but entirely ineffective, rocket attack, the British gave up. It was during this attack that poet Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star-Spangled Banner. A new Maryland promotional video claims this is the moment that “helps America win the war.”

That claim proves something of an awkward moment for Bill Pencek, executive director of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. “Did the U.S. really win the war? Not really,” he admits when pressed. “It was more of a draw.” Nonetheless, money must be raised and tourists attracted. And no one wants to celebrate a loser.

The same goes at New Orleans, where the 1815 battle is remembered today by the U.S. National Parks Service as proof of “American democracy triumphing over the old European ideas of aristocracy and entitlement.”

And as might be expected, the U.S. Navy is also planning a big splash with the War of 1812, on par with its efforts in 1976 recognizing the American bicentennial. “Two hundred years ago we fought for free trade and sailors’ rights,” says Capt. Patrick Burns, director of the Office of Navy Commemorations. “And we are still doing that today.” Capt. Burns emphasizes that both the Canadian and British navies are getting friendly invitations to attend the American ceremonies, although he adds with obvious enthusiasm: “That a six-frigate navy could take on the world’s largest superpower at the time is just amazing.”

Donald Hickey of Wayne State College in Nebraska is one of the few American historians to call the war a loss for the U.S. Nonetheless, he considers the conflict to be an opiate of history. “Everybody’s happy with the outcome of the War of 1812,” Hickey notes wryly. “Americans are happy because they think they won. Canadians are happier because they know they won. And the British are happiest of all because they’ve forgotten all about it.”

In fact, British historians have recently risen to defend their national honour. In How Britain Won the War of 1812, author Brian Arthur argues that the British naval blockade strangled the American economy (no pennies were minted in 1815 because the country had ran out of copper) and forced Washington to sue for peace. “Britain won the war because the Americans simply ran out of money,” he says. Of course this version also ignores the Canadian land war.

Against these entrenched positions, Canada does have one advantage. Of the three former combatant nations, only Canada’s federal government is investing heavily to commemorate the war. Maryland is rare among states in giving it major play. Many historic sites in the former battle zones of New York and Michigan are facing budget cuts and layoffs due to financial stresses. And despite the efforts of the U.S. Navy, there is no U.S. federal office to recognize the war as there is in Canada. This gives us a rare opportunity to finally out-point our neighbours on North American history. “You already won the war once,” quips Hickey. “Now you get to win it all over again.”

Not that the Canadian government intends to rub it in. While promising to “make the most of this moment in Canadian history,” Heritage Minister Moore promises to avoid gloating for fear of antagonizing our sensitive southern neighbours. “This is not a competition,” he says of the upcoming commemorations. “One of the great outcomes of the war is the very healthy relationship we’ve had with the U.S. ever since it ended.” Indeed, every press release from Ottawa regarding the War of 1812 includes at least one boilerplate reference “celebrating two centuries of peaceful coexistence with the United States.”

Then again, if the Americans insist on imaginatively claiming they won the war, Canadians aren’t above a little creative mythologizing of our own. Consider once more Col. Stone, recently honoured with a park by the federal government for “successfully defending” Gananoque from attack early in the war. The fact is, that’s not exactly what happened on Sept. 21, 1812.

When American invaders waded ashore that night, Col. Stone was nowhere to be found. His leaderless militia fired one volley at the American raiders and then scampered into the woods, after which Capt. Forsyth’s men set fire to the government storehouse, shot up Col. Stone’s house (wounding Mrs. Stone, who was at home) and absconded with all the loot they could carry—30 barrels of flour, 12 prisoners, 41 muskets and a large supply of Stone’s personal belongings. “They plundered the place pretty thoroughly,” notes historian Taylor.

For the rest of the war, however, Col. Stone and his militia did keep the vital St. Lawrence supply route open for the most part. If his decidedly unsuccessful defence of Gananoque on Sept. 21, 1812 is remembered today by Ottawa as a triumph worth celebrating, it must be because history is written by the victors.


Damn Yankees are trying to steal our victory in 1812

  1. Putting the heroes and storylines of the War of 1812 up on a national stage scratches a great many Conservative itches as well. It plays up the resurrected importance of the military in everyday Canadian life, emphasizes our ties to the British Crown and, according to Moore, strikes a blow against efforts of previous Liberal governments to define Canada as a series of modern Liberal accomplishments such as medicare and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “There is this leftist mythology that Canadian history began with the election of Pierre Trudeau and was solidified in 1982 with the signing of the Charter,” he gripes. “That’s utterly irresponsible. There is a Canadian identity that goes back much farther and we should be very proud of it.”

    Here we have the nub of the matter.  The CPC is incapable of unselfconscious patriotism.  It’s not about Canada; it’s about the CPC.  If you can’t find something to blame the Liberal party for, there’s nothing to commemorate.

    The conflation of the Liberals with “leftists” is ludicrous.  Any historically alert Canadian leftist will be aware of the Winnipeg general strike of 1919, if not the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 (which is susceptible to interpretation in a left-right context).

    The War of 1812 has little resonance in Western Canada, since geographically it happened elsewhere.  But given the lock the CPC has on the West, it’s convenient for them that this bicentennial lets them spread more pork in Central Canada while having a legitimate excuse for ignoring the West.

    • Had it not been for repulsing American invaders in the southern part of Ontario, there would have been NO Western Canada, Eastern Canada or Northern Canada as it now exists. It and the rest of Canada would be a series of postage stamp states. Your descendents more than likely would have served in Vietnam and Iraq.

      Preparations for celebrating the 200th anniversary were underway LONG before federal funding was even considered.

      • Yes, and that’s wonderful and as it should be.  We should all be very grateful to those who fought in the War of 1812–and also it really is such an interesting war in that, on both sides, prisoners were considered such a hassle and you couldn’t just shoot people who’d surrendered, so both sides used a “promise you won’t do it again” approach to letting prisoners go free.  Some people made the promise three and four times, LOL.   So very civil!  Unless, of course, you were killed or wounded in the actual fight, because I’m sure it didn’t seem anything like civil then.

        But this doesn’t rebuke the Logician’s post.

        • Well it certainly does and as usual yours is an over simplistic view of history.

    • “The CPC is incapable of unselfconscious patriotism.”

      Inasmuch as the Liberal party of Canada is incapable of any patriotism whatsoever with the possible exception of flag waving as an excuse to raise federal tax levies.

      • And the CPC doesn’t emulate American policy at every turn? How are sucking up to the US or bending over to take one from behind acts of patriotism?

      • This is just the response Harper is trying to solicit.  Mission Accomlished!

      • No replies yet?  Trying saying something that’s not ridiculous.

    • I attended Isaac Brock school in Winnipeg, so I would say that the War of 1812 has some resonance in western Canada.

    • How presumptuous you are, to assume that “western” Canadians are only interested or informed about events within an imaginary geographic barrier. 

      • As a western Canadian with a lifelong interest in military history, my speculations are based on observations of others, rather than on my own interests.  Certainly, I agree that western Canadians are on average more interested in and knowledgeable about events in central Canada than central Canadians are about events in the Canadian west. 

        • Logician,  you started by saying, “The War of 1812 has little resonance in Western Canada” , now you say, “I agree that western Canadians are on average more interested in and knowledgeable about events in central Canada”. Does your logic tell you which logical fallacy you just made? Or, is logic different in western Canada than eastern or central Canada? 

          • Can you identify the assumptions you have made that cause the apparent contradiction?  If you can, you will see that rejecting those assumptions resolves what you see as a contradiction.

    • What a silly comment, that the War of 1812 does not resonate in the West. Are we somehow less Canadian than our eastern counterparts? And we are somehow less politically sophisticated than easterners? It is part of our national narrative just as the Riel Rebellion is part of our narrative unless you count Saskatchewan as eastern Canada.

  2. had ran out of copper???

    No mention of the UEL. At the time of the War of 1212 were not most of the residents of Upper Canada UELs?

    • No, not even in 1812.

    • No, and that was one of the significant factors in the American invasion attempts.  Following the establishment of Upper Canada as a separage colony extensive efforts were made to attract new settlers, in addition to the UELs.  Many Americans came to settle for the free land offered, not as political refugees. Some of them did take up arms on the side of the invaders – most did not.

      • Of course there were all the other people here….neither Americans nor UEL

        • Yes, but by 1812 probably 80% of the population of Upper Canada had been born in what was by then the United States of America.

          • LOL no.

          • Yes, actually.

          • @MikeRedmond:disqus 

            No Mike they weren’t.

            I know you want to believe we’re all Americans, but I’m afraid Upper Canada was British.

          • yes, Emily, you can look it up if you want. In 1812 a majority of the residents of Upper Canada, as many as 80% had been born in what had become the United States of America, that included the original United Empire Loyalists, Mohawks and the later American settlers invited by Simcoe and others.

          • MikeRedmond I think your use of the word ‘American’ is out of sync here. Yes there was a lot of Upper Canada people who came from the eastern seaboard but they weren’t Americans. They were subjects of the British crown an moved there after the French & Indian war and the Rev War.

      • A point of high significance: The Quebecois were invited to help the US.  The few that did were sent somewhere in the US after the war as no other Quebecois would talk to them. The Quebecois were extremely loyal TO CANADA and fought for  Canada against the US – and not for the reason the many historians give “. . .because of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church.”   An examination of Quebec early families will show that few moved more than 50 miles fropm home, the exception being the move to the Clay Belt.

    • Wouldn’t you think at that time, before UELs had unintentionally killed them with their foreign diseases, most were Natives? 

  3. German Hessians ( soldiers of fortune – mercenaries ) were given land down by the seaway as payment for helping the British fight the Americans. Hessians also fought for the Americans in the revolutionary war as well.

  4. Watched the PBS doc. last night – not bad – they call it a draw.   It was a nice refresher, as growing up in southern Ontario we visited all the historic sites on a regular basis.  I find native westerners, unless they are interested in Canadian history, recognize few names and places connected to the 1812 war. 

    Interesting commentary on how the U.S. broke the unwritten rules of engagement, where ‘Christian’ countries don’t burn, pillage and plunder civilians – thus the burning of the Whitehouse was in retaliation for them burning what was Toronto first.


    • The unwritten rules had pretty broad exemptions – such as the fate of defended towns that fell by storm – in which case looting and murder were commonplace (as at Badajoz).  The rule had also broken down during the American rebellion 30 years ealier where murders and reprisals were commonplace in disputed areas like New Jersey and parts of the southern colonies.

    • Westerners aren’t the only ones who aren’t overly familiar with the War of 1812. I have to confess to scant knowledge myself (though I know we touched on it in school). But if you comapre my knowledge of Upper Canadian history to an Ontarian’s knowledge of NL history, I’m betting I’d score higher.

      The reality is, we’re all naturally more interested in our own region’s history than that of other areas of the country.

      Most Canadians (me included) could do with a more thorough knowledge of our country’s past. Unlike the Americans, we just don’t have the same sense of pride in our forefathers’ acomplishments. It may be a remnant of the colonial mentality.

      • New show for Rick Mercer “Talking to Canadians”.  lol!!

        Be suprised how many people here on the left coast don’t know what a wobbly-pop is!

        • No!  Really? 

          We’s got us some learnin’ to do!!

    • The PBS documentary was largely American financed.  They seem to have adopted the habit of calling wars they lost a draw.  Second, for other idealogical posters here, this isn’t about Liberals or Conservatives or left or right.  This is about our history.

    • It was a dirty war. Especially along the Niagara river. The burning of Black Rock (now Buffalo) and the burning of Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) happened before Washington. There also was a military unit called the Canadian Volunteers who were comprised of American immigrants living in the Niagara penninsula and used the war to get revenge on neighouring Upper Canada Loyalists who looked down on them. They used the war as an excuse to raid towns and farms on the Canadian side. They burned Newark so the British retaliated with the burning of Black Rock.

      • Really very interesting!

      • The British officer ncommanding the troops which crossed the Niagara River had given orders to destroy public buildings, food, military equipment and weapons. He bitterly complained that drunken Indians and militiamen burnt privately owned buildings.

  5. I hope I may be forgiven for being a bit cheeky here.  This is a comment made in the Spectator by one Owen Morgan, which I copied with the intention of researching further into the lawyer named by him, but it may throw even more light on your subject: 
    “A British lawyer, obliged to spend the duration of the War of 1812 in the United States, William James shortly afterwards published his closely argued “Naval Occurrences of the War of 1812: A Full and Correct Account of the Naval War Between Great Britain and the United States of America,1812-1815”.”James dismembered the wildly exaggerated claims of US naval prowess, pointing out successfully that no US naval force in the war ever proved victorious against superior forces, or even against equal forces. For example, the fact that the USS Constitution defeated two ships in one engagement is far less remarkable than it is made to sound in American mythology, when one considers that the Constitution’s displacement and firepower were both greater than those of its opponents combined and that it had guns of a larger calibre, with a longer range. James noted an article in an American broadsheet, extolling the achievement of the Constitution, but was able to produce a pre-War article, in which the same American hack had pontificated on the obvious inability of two small ships to defeat one more powerful one.”A measure of how effectively James argued his case is evident in the fact that the library of the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, explicitly banned his book from its shelves. Allegedly, Theodore Roosevelt was completely unaware of the existence of “Naval Occurrences”, many decades later, when he wrote an account of the naval war resting overwhelmingly on the American mythology, relying heavily on the Annapolis collection.”Also, I would add, accounts show that Madison and his cronies were dead keen to go to war as they fancied a land-grab of Canada and reckoned that with British forces tied up in Spain, they would meet with little opposition.

    • You would enjoy the new, American made PBS doc. (link my post above) as they discuss “old iron sides” (Constitution named that due to double wood hull which cannon balls got stuck in rather than pierce) and the use of the victory to promote the war.  First reference to political Republican spin, lol.

      • The PBS documentary was very fair and gave blanced coverage to all sides – and helped a bit in demolishing myths of all sides as well – such as the Canadian myth that the war was won by milita.

        • Well, the only ones who could actually be said to have won the war (by which I mean got what they went to war for) were the Canadian militia.  On account of they were just there to defend their land, mostly, and to decide their own selves whether or not they’d change their way of being governed (what the whole Rebellion of 37,38 was for, after all).  The Brits didn’t get what they wanted and the ‘Mericans didn’t either.

          Which isn’t to say the militia did most of the fighting. :)

          • As long as we acknowledge that the bulk of the fighting was done by the British (and First Nations, and mercenary Swiss and Germans) and less by Canadian militia (although many units like the 104th Foot from New Brunskwick and the Voltigeurs, the Newfoundland and Glengarry Fencibles were on the same foogint as the British regulars), I agree that the Canadians can clearly claim a “win” (if that term isn’t too distasteful concerning war).  The British aims, however, were mainly to be let alone by the Americans while they got on with the main business of defeating Napoleon. To the extent the Americans didn’t have much impact on the British and allied victories in Europe, and the Americans didn’t successfully seize Canada, I think the British can be said to have “won” as well.

          • True as far as it goes, but they had to stop impressing Americans, which is mainly the “what they wanted” I was thinking about.  Although, yes, they pretty much agreed to stop doing that at the beginning, so its a bit of a stretch to say they “lost” that from the fighting.

          • Mike, the only ones that gave a damn were those who were already calling themselves “Canadian” whether  you like it or not. And many, if not most, of the Brits stayed in Canada after the war for cheap or even free land. My great-great grandfather may have been the child of UELs but he was born in or near Saint John and joined the Fencibles (104th Foot) before the war, but after the war settled near Hamilton, which was in Upper Canada at the time.  This kind of history including the one  in  1774 as part of Canadian history. These people REJECTED the concept of the US 1in 1794 and embraced the concept of Canada in 1812. As far as I am concerned “they” are “us” and we share that history for all others who have found home here since. 

        • Yes, I thought it was quite well done.
          I hope in our commemorations we give the First Nations their due – Tecumseh was quite the warrior and politician.

    • The study of American History ()which I did in my first degree) proves that bulls**t baffles brains every time.

  6. Dear Canadians – Can you please invade Arizona and make us a colony? We will pre-surrender like Detroit in 1812, and you’re welcome to burn down Washington DC again if you feel like it. Our central government hates us and sues because we want our borders secure, so we would be delighted to be conquered by Canada (a country with a southern border). Be assured, we are more committed to your success than the Turks and Caicos Islands. If you do not wish to invade us, we will attack ourselves and surrender to Canada. In return, Arizonans will sustain ourselves on Canadian cuisine, worship your gods, and rename the state The Province of Newerfoundland. See Thanksgiving wishes from Arizona to Canada at http://www.disunderstand.com . Thank you in advance for attacking us.

    • Just back from sunny Scottsdale – more Canuks there than natives, lol!
      It is your banks that hate you – what they charge to get a mortgage!!!!

      • Thank you for indicating interest in buying Arizona. Perhaps we can sweeten the deal by throwing in a hockey team. You can move the Coyotes to Winnipeg and change their name back to the Jets. That way Winnipeg can have two teams named the Jets. Hockey is a fitting analogy for the Canadian invasion of Arizona. Arizona will lose and no Canadians will be hurt.

  7. Mmm well, the Yankees invaded us with an eye to taking us over…however they didn’t do so, and we even gave Detroit back to them because they cried so much.

    Viet Nam wasn’t the first war the US lost.

    • No. Yielding Detroit was a diplomatic victory for Canada. Our forces tried to permanently surrender the town, but Canada refused and forced us to take it back. If Canada wanted Detroit it could be taken today .. easily.

      • LOL thank you, no.

    • Actually, they had recaptured Detroit by the end of the war. We did give them back Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and Castine Maine, though. (Oh, and for those of us in the West – Fort Astoria)

      • Sorry, you don’t get to rewrite history.

        • You do, on the other hand, seem compelled to display your ignorance of it.  One of those fundamental liberties that our forefathers fought for so successully.

          • Oh MIke give it a rest and lighten up…..I live right in the middle of where the war was fought.

          • Then I assume you aren’t ignorant of the subject – so I happily withdraw the remark. You do know, therefore, that Detroit was recaptured by the Americans in 1813 -so it wasn’t “given back to them”.

          • It was, in the treaty.

    • Yes…and now look at the shape Detroit is in!!

      • Exactly….a mess.

        • We didn’t want it anyway. Have you ever been to Detroit?

    • They didn’t exactly win the Korean War either.  Of course there is a good option of saying it was a UN action, but we  who were there know better.

  8. Well, we’ll just have to fight it again!! But can they wait a few years until our new invisible planes arrive?

  9. “If Canada was to exist as an independent country, Col. Stone and the Gananoque militia had to keep their part of this vital supply route open”

    …sigh…Canada was not an indepedent country…Canada did not yet in fact exist. We were still a British colony. 

    Almost the only good thing to come out of war is that it frequently has ironic unintended consequences – thank God!. If the US hadn’t made an incompetent attempt at what would probably have been a landgrab had they succeeded we wouldn’t have been.

    • “Was to exist”, in the sense of the future – as had the British lost the war, the possibility of Canada ever becoming an independent nation would have ceased to exist.  I think you can give the writer some credit for knowing some basic facts of Canada’s history – although perhaps you can’t extend that benefit of the doubt to all Canadians. In many ways Canada remained a British colony until 1931 – although in practical terms it achieved independence long before – but the War of 1812 was pivotal in developing that concept of a shared “Canadianness”.

      • I read it the way kcm2 did. It’s written as if Stone knew they were fighting to preserve Canadian independence. If we give the author the benefit of the doubt where knowledge is concerned, then we have to acknowledge that it’s a poorly written passage.

        • Exactly. I may just be nit picking but the author seems to make this error a number of times – switching tenses in a sense, between colonial Canada and Canada in a modern day sense…at the very least it is irritating. I would hope it is not intentional.

          • Of course they knew they were fighting for their independence – from the US in the first instance and ultimately for responsible government.

          • Almost all of the fighting was done by the British and the natives with some help from the militia…there was no of course about it. We were not fighting for Canada in any meaningful sense at that time. No doubt the war galvinized those who did want to see an indepedent Canada which was to occur some 50 odd years later. The author is not very clear on this point at all.

    • There already was a Canada called Upper Canada and Lower Canada – and independent minded, if not yet politically indpendent. .  And there was  a Canada under the French who really preferred to have the West Indies to us. Hence we are monarchy  with our own crown which happens to be shared by a a few others.  The real attempt to a land grab came when the West was opened. Hill and the Great Northern tried to beat the CPR to the goodies. Another time some stupid Fenians thought they could horn in.  They weer put in their place too. 

  10. “Putting the heroes and storylines of the War of 1812 up on a national stage scratches a great many Conservative itches as well. It plays up the resurrected importance of the military in everyday Canadian life, emphasizes our ties to the British Crown and, according to Moore, strikes a blow against efforts of previous Liberal governments to define Canada as a series of modern Liberal accomplishments such as medicare and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “There is this leftist mythology that Canadian history began with the election of Pierre Trudeau and was solidified in 1982 with the signing of the Charter,” he gripes. “That’s utterly irresponsible. There is a Canadian identity that goes back much farther and we should be very proud of it”
    This whole paragraph underscores how puerile, indeed infantile, is the aspiration of the Harperites in seeking to rebrand us. Only in Moore’s fevered imagination could you possibly link the two events: 1812 and 1982. There has been no attempt to deny or supress our history, be it Vimy the BNA  or 1812 by liberal govts. That they should highlight  accomplishments that happened on their watch is understandable in no way detracts from our shared history – except in the minds of little hurt boys like James Moore. Furthemore the repariation of the consitution and the charter were seminal events in the life of the country that involved all Canadians,abriginals, womens rights advocates and leaders from all levels of govt; PET did not scribble it on the back of an enevelope under his blankie. When will this conservtive govt stop sucking its thumb and bloody well grow up? It is nothing more then sour grapes on their part that they don’t get to write history as they think it should be.

    • Moore seems to suggest certain milestones are owned by the political party that formed government at the time.  So rather than boost the Canadian identify, he is using his partisanship to create a divide.  I am so sick of this nonsense.  I thought Moore was better than that.

      • Yeah the partisanship is tiresome and to the degree it is a strategic political choice sickening.They’re just hurt little boys;but even these boys should grow up eventually.

    • My, aren’t we snotty?

      • If the govt would merely pursue a policy of highlighting parts of our history that have been overlooked or underappreciated i wouldn’t mind; i’m not at opposed to celebrating 1812 as an important mile stone in our national development.[ although i don’t how it justifies spending millions of $ when it is cutting elsewhere] But this govt is always defensive, always reactionary with its eye constantly on the political upside for itself and not at all fussy how it goes about it. Minister More threw the first cheap shot by politcizing this event, perhaps you should direct your objection there?

  11. Yawn, the USA eventually won, where is the monument to that?

    • Considering we out-score the Americans on most quality-of-life indicators such as longevity,health, education etc., and are generally, depending on how you keep score, as well of financially or better (much better if you look at foreclosure rates and employment) I don’t think you can say they have “won” in any respect.

    • Now way.  The US was out to absorb us.  The fact that we are alive and kicking shows we won what we were fighting for – our own country, not a US hinterland.

  12. Referring to “Canada” in 1812 is highly problematic and gives misconception to the idea that the Canada we know today as a political and geographical entity existed in 1812. British Colony, British Citizens, British decisions. Taking Pride in these events as Canadians is difficult, what ties do we actually have to the people who fought in this war? is this a tie the we should emphasize? (even though it is quite weak) 

    • Canada has existed since 1791.

      • Actually, Canada existed almost two centuries before. It was the most important colony or administrative region of Nouvelle-France since the 16th century, the others being Acadie, Plaisance (Newfoundland), Baie d’Hudson (Hudson Bay) and Louisiane. 

        • I was referring to this:

          “Upper Canada” became a political entity on 26 December 1791 with the Parliament of Great Britain’s passage of the Constitutional Act of 1791. The act divided the Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada

          • Yes, but the idea of a place called “Canada” and people called “Canadians” existed for over a hundred years before that. The concept of what those terms meant changed over time, of course.

          • Nooo…really?

            Gosh I guess no one but you knew that.

          • Most people do seem to understand the concept, Emily. It seemed you had a little difficulty with it but I am happy to see you don’t.

      • Fopr once I have to agree with you whole heartedly!

    • One of the reasons to remember events such as the War of 1812 is that we can ask questions such as you have posed – and give ourselves some perspective on the question of what it means to be a nation.  The term “Canadian” has changed with the centuries, and by the time of 1812 began to have a meaing that transcended its orginal geographic meaning. Certainly most of those who used the term saw themselves as British (well, not Wilcock’s “Canadian Volunteers” who served the Yankees). But they also were clearly developing a sense of national identity that was strengthened by that war, and the subsequent threats to Canada over the next fifty years.  National identity doesn’t emerge overnight – but the Canadians who fought together in that war started to develop a clear identity as a separate nation. One within the Empire, but with its own sense of self infomed by its own past.
      I don’t find taking pride in our nation’s past to be difficult. The ties we have to those who fought in this war are those of gratitude for the sacrifices they made that enabled us to live the life we have now. And yes, that is a tie we should emphasize.

      • As usual, far too many here have no concept of the French aspect of our history.

        Canadians (or Canadiens) were the people living in Nouvelle France along the northern shore of the St. Lawrence River.  And actually prior to that, during a time after the main French colonisation, Canadiens referred to Aboriginals who lived along the St. Lawrence.

        These pepole eventaully became known French-Canadians and now Québécois (as opposed to Acadians, for example).

      • Gratitude and also blood.  Don’t forget that quite a few Canadians had forefathers there

    • Another one with a carrot. Upper Canada and Lower Canada existed with legislatures.  As a matter of fact, the Brits referred to us as “crude Canadians.”

  13. Excellent article.  It’s good to see some recognition of the real history of 1812.  We really have to stop denying our history and instead, celebrate it. 

  14. What self-important silliness this is. The war of 1812 was a conflict between the British and America over the British colony called Canada. Canada did not even exist as a sovereign state, let alone wage war, until decades later.

    “Canadians” (most of whom were relocated Americans anyway) had little to do with it, other than having been recruited by the British as soldiers under British command.

    To Americans, “Canadians” were not a factor at all and defeated no one. For present day Canada to celebrate a nation-defining victory is embarrassing revisionism. Those early Canadians were little more than impotent spectators at a world title fight between two heavyweights.

    As is made decisively clear by the failure of either side to relocate borders, the War of 1812, which was fought by Britain and America, NOT Canada and America, resulted in a classic draw.

    • They certainly weren’t impotent spectators at the Battle of Chateaugay, fought entirely by Canadians against the US army.  The fact we were a colony is nothing to be ashamed of, that is simply a fact of our growth into a naiton. You could make the same comments you have regarding the War of 1812 about World War I.  The fact remains, both events were crucial points in our development as a nation, and the creation of an idea of Canadian identity.  The sacrifices of the men and women who lived through those times should be remembered.

      • With respect Mike, there was no such person as a “Canadian” in 1812.

        There were the British, and their colonial subjects.

        Isaac Brock was a British general, although he is celebrated by the CBC as if he were a “Canadian.”

        History would have to wait until 1867 for the birth of a “Canadian.”

        To repeat: The war of 1812 was strictly between America and the British. Canada had no standing in that war since there was no such country as Canada.

        • I don’t think so. True enough it was a war between Britian and USA so how did the Americans react? They attached Upper ‘Canada’ a colony of Britian.
          It’s like something like a Californian being exactly that but also an American.
          Your logic would dictate that no Americans fought in the war of independence as USA were colonies of Britian. As soon as the that war was over the people instantly became Americans. In the case of 1812, it took 55 years more for the Upper CANADIAN people of the British colony to become Canadian of an independent country.
          The official head of State in Canada is the British Monarch so would you say also that today there is no such thing as a Canadian???

          • JBMGS: “True enough it was a war between Britian and USA…”
            Thank you for acknowledging that my main main point is true. IMHO your remaining points are just peripheral technicalities.

            JBMGS: “Your logic would dictate that no Americans fought in the war of independence as USA were colonies of Britian.”

            The crucial differences here are that 1) The Americans DECLARED their independence from Britain before going to war and that  2) America formed an independent government immediately whereas “Canada” was and remained governed by Britain for decades to come. Canada was in fact a British-owned property.America attacked the colony of Canada precisely because the British who owned it were too close for comfort.  It was an attack on Britain, not on “Canada.”

            JBMGS: “The official head of State in Canada is the British Monarch so would you say also that today there is no such thing as a Canadian???”

            The Queen’s role is almost entirely ceremonial and remains only as a nod to our British heritage. As you may know, Canada has been a sovereign country for some time now.Nice chatting with you.

        • Poosh and Toosh. Did you never hear of Upper Canada? Or Canada West? Or Lower Canada? and they were Canadians, as were the Quebecois  so get the English carrot out of your ass! 

          • Blacktopold: Ever notice how rude and ignorant people like you get no substantive replies on internet forums except from equally rude and ignorant people?

          • Oh yes, some the views here deserve rudeness as in “in rudeness there is the truth.”

            Forum?  I have had plenty of replies, substantive or otherwise. As for ignorance you take the cake, buddy.

          • What you call rudeness is simply not suffering fools gladly.  Ignorance is a lack of knowledge of the issues under discussion. I admit, I do not suffer fools gladly. As to ignorance, although it is some years past, I studied in my first degree several courses in history, including American history, Canadian history, development of Canadian status as a  nation, British History, History of the French in North America, Ancient History (Greece and Rome and so on. A lot of that knowledge went down the tube when it was no longer relevant.  Like Emily, I suspect I have probably forgotten more than you ever knew.   What you mean is that my knowledge does not tally with your presumption of what you know. Another synonym which might apply is “stuffed shirt”.

  15. I grew up in Baltimore, so it was drilled into me (and my fellow Baltimoreans) that the bombardment of Fort McHenry and subsequent writing of the national anthem was a US victory over the British. I was carted off to the Fort many times as an elementary student since it was the closest field day/learning opportunity for my inner-city school. The rest of the War, including Canadian involvement, was left to be learned in the upper grades or even university. Whatever, I have the fuzzy US memory the piece correctly describes of my countrymen. Sorry about that.    

  16. There were no Hessians given land grants in the Seaway Valley after the American Revolution. The Hessians were mercenaries hired by the British Crown form small principalities in what is now Germany.There were German-speaking Loyalists who settled in Eastern Ontario but they were members of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York, a Loyalist force raised in New York’s Mohawk Valley

    • Perhaps the poster was thinking of the Swiss mercenaries in De Meuron’s and De Watteville’s regiments, many of whom did settle in Canada at the end of the war?

    • Correct, as was my 4th great grandfather  Ensign Eleazer Fairchild, born in Connecticut,  of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York who settled near the present Brockville. No Hessians.  Many of the so-called Germans were actually of Dutch ancestry, their forbears having settled in Neu Amsterdam (New York) in 1623

  17. I would have thought that the fantastic fact that a raiding British regiment in the middle of the night attacked and captured the old stone powerful old Fort Niagara (USA) from which the first cannonades were fired that bombarded Fort George on the Canadian side of the border.  Old Fort Niagara was captured originally by the British from the French during the Conquest of New France several months before the conquest of Quebec.   The Fort was never captured by the Americans.. It was the key fort from which raids by the British Army and Butler’s Rangers (who principally settled Niagara- on- the- Lake) ran the war against the American Revolutionaries on the NW Frontier.

    Twenty years after the revolution ended, many of these same Butlers Rangers and their young sons participated in Canadian Militia regiments against the Americans in the war of 1812-14.  The Brithish attack across the river cleverly fooled the guards and they were killed.  Over a hundred American soldiers werre killed in their barracks and from there the whole east bank of the Niagaras river to Buffalo(all the burnable dwellings) was burned to the ground including Buffalo in retaliation for the burning of Niagara-on-the-Lake.  For a second time after the war old Fort Niagara was returned to American ownership by peace treaty.   Canadians and British soldiers never lost the fort.    A proud history.   

    Dick Field Toronto

    • “…  the whole east bank of the Niagaras river to Buffalo(all the burnable dwellings) was burned to the ground including Buffalo in retaliation for the burning of Niagara-on-the-Lake …”And there are still fires burning in Buffalo today.  Oops, there’s another fire in Cheektowaga, and one in Lackawana and in North Tonawanda now.

  18. The Yankees are trying to rewite the War of 1812? Seems to me that MacLeans is doing just that. There is no mention whatsoever of Chief Tecumseh and how the Indians in UpperCanada helped turn the tide in Canada’s favour. A recent American documentary on TV did a better job explaining the War of 1812 than this Canadian Article. Shameful.

  19. As somebody who was born and grew up in southern Ontario (the hub of the Golden Horseshoe in fact) I was always very well aware of the War of 1812, including the battle place names like Lundy’s Lane and Stoney Creek along with the names of Sir Isaac Brock, Laura Secord etc.

    As proud as I am of our history, I would like to believe that in the 21st century we can handle the truth, whether it be positive or negative towards our previous beliefs on the subject.

    I agree that it is worth putting money from the public purse towards commemorating the bicentennial of this historical event but is it too much to hope that it not turn into some populist brew of jingoism and a whitewash of what are the historical facts.

    As well, I noticed that this article, as well as many others that have been written of recent, left out one very important person: Tecumseh.  Why the absence of the most important aboriginal leader during this period?

    I am hoping for the best with this commemoration but I fear that it will go overboard.

    Remeber: Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

    • Yes, you’re right…no Tecumseh!  He really should be noted and recognized.  Brock & Tecumseh had a wonderful mutual respect and genuine respect for each other too.  Canadians very much need to recognize the contributions and deeds of it’s Native peoples in general, both yesterday and today.  Not doing so makes us almost American in behaviour.(shudder….)

    • Yes Tecumseh was a major factor in Canadian/British victories in the west.  The Americans hated him. He and his people deserved much more than they got.

  20. American victory eh?  If I recall my history lessons correctly I am sure that the abode of America’s President was at one point not a “White House”…but after a few Canucks torched the joint it was quickly repaired and blasted clean giving it the look it still sports to this day.  If burning the President’s home isn’t a sign of victory, or at least a sign of worthy opponent that got in a real good punch, than I don’t know what is.  America – your Ego has landed and as usual it is a misinformed schoolyard bully taking credit for why the park looks so nice.

    Really…..shame on the U.S.A. for once again treating us like a bunch of dumb chumps..and shame on us if we just hear fodder like this story and do nothing in defense of our national identity.

    Poor, ignorant, self-centered, tunnel visioned Americans; grasping desperately at any reason to swing the Stars and Stripes around while they brachiate like drunken teenage boys after attending a UFC event.  I can almost hear the powerful and patriotic Lee Greenwood ditty blaring out the windows of countless pick up trucks to accompany their flag wielding.  All the while the world sits and witnesses the slow and steady decline of the American empire.  All they need now is their own personal Nero to fiddle around while it burns – not by Canadian hand this time, but by their own.

    Sad to see a country that’s so desperate for esteem building events that they had to reach back two centuries and then fabricate the results.

  21. I agree it is worth it.  Don’t forget that awesome march of the 104th foot IN WINTER from New Brunswick to Quebec City.  The New Brunswick Fencibles . volunteered in 1810 to serve anywhere in the world with the British Army. In September of that year its status changed to a regiment of the line and was numbered 104th Foot. Six of the eight companies stationed at Fredericton (the other two companies were stationed at Sydney, Cape Breton and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Isle) marched to Quebec in February and March 1813. The two remaining companies sailed from St. John in May and the companies detached at Cape Breton and P.E.I joined them in the autumn of 1814. After a number of engagements, the regiment was disbanded at Montreal 24th May 1817 in the general reduction of the Army after the Napoleonic Wars.
    PRO Reference WO12/9948, Musters of the New Brunswick Fencibles for the period 25th December 1808 to 24th December 1811 stationed at Fredericton. Pte Solomon Colby shown in company No.10 (Captain Maules) and shown enlisted 2nd April 1809. The regiment becomes the 104th Foot in September 1810.
    Solomon Colby was my great-great grandfather.

  22. Was posted as a reply to Dick Field above but some Disqus problems (I’m assuming) made it a seperate post here:

    “…  the whole east bank of the Niagaras river to Buffalo(all the burnable dwellings) was burned to the ground including Buffalo in retaliation for the burning of Niagara-on-the-Lake …”

    And there are still fires burning in Buffalo today.  Oops, there’s another fire in Cheektowaga, and one in Lackawana and in North Tonawanda now.

  23. Quite a stupid title and tipically Canadian in that we have such an inferiority complex when it comes to many things American!!!
    The article was really well written but few if any American authors etc. have claimed it an American victory…come on people iy was an important war where not an inch of land was given up by either side and in effect no side really won. It did however set off a number of other events that seemed to define and improve what Canadians and Americans became.
    The PBS presentation ‘The War of 1812’ on October 10/11 also did a fine job in presenting the facts and various battles and blunders that occured.
    Again a very stupid title on MacLean’s part ‘Damn Yankees trying to Steal our Victory in 1812’ when in fact they really haven’t…grow up MacLean’s and don’t be so sensational!!!


  24. ‘The War of 1812 has little resonance in Western Canada.’

    Excuse me? I guess you mean that Western Canada has little resonance to you when you discuss this war.

  25. Les canadiens inhabited a far wider swath than the north shore of the Fleuve St Laurent. With the Quebec Act, enacted by Britain in 1774, Quebec’s territory was extended far to the west. French was spoken by permanent inhabitants as far as Des Moines Iowa and forts were established in many of the mid-west like Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee all then part of “le Grand Québec. One of the politically astute reasons for the extension of Quebec was to create a barrier to the western exploration and settlement of the burgeoning’and restive Thirteen colonies. It wasn’t of great concern to Britain to give up so much territory to Francophones as the English speaking population of Br. North America was minimal. 20% at best of the whole population of “le Canada” including the Maritimes. Britain was far more interest in the sugary riches of Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad  It must have been hard to foresee that in a scant 4 years the influx of Loyalists would cause a great rebalancing of the ratio of French/English and make the Quebec Act look peremptory and ill-considered.


  26. The land war in the War of 1812 was just plain dumb. If the generals on both sides had any sense they would have surrendered their troops to each other and conspired to keep their soldiers out of this European War.

    Why would the people in the Great Lakes area care about the boarding of ships on the high seas?
    Worse yet, the war could be declared over and it would take weeks before any of the combatants deep into the continent to be told that it was over.

    • Sir, you are an idiot.

      We didn’t exactly ask to be invaded, but we sure as Hell weren’t going to stand by and let those American bastards take over peacefully. The land war had a clear meaning and moral message: If you screw with Canada, we will kick your ass.

  27. Go figure.  I studied both Canadian and American History at University and had already, obviously known that Canada won that one.

  28. If find it iteresting and draw the comparison of the
    arguments across the border about this war…to
    the arguments we have down here about the civil war
    especially taking this quote into consideration.

    “At the time war was declared, a majority of the 75,000 inhabitants in Upper Canada were recent American immigrants, lured across the border by cheap land and low taxes. ”

    It is what it is. .or should i say it was what is was.

    Can not deny that we are all of the same stock…cousins as it were.

    Fighting or Kissing…. I prefer the latter as something about
    the water up there seems to give you all an abundance of babes,eh?

  29. My grade school teacher, 60 years ago, would have rapped Mr Taylor’s knuckles. “Bicentennial”  is an adjective, it should not be used as a noun.

    “With the bicentennial of the war fast approaching….” and ” recognizing the American bicentennial.” are clearly wrong. Correctly, “bicentennial” should be replaced by “bicentenary”.

    • Not the point.

  30. This is a bit laughable … as interesting as it is.  But there was no Canada in 1812.  There was only a war between the US and Britain.  “Canada” was only a territory of the British Empire.  So did Canada win the war – hardly.  There was no winner, only a negotiated peace because the conflict was too expensive for both sides.  Did the US win the war?  Certainly, if you consider the objective was to get the Brits too realize the US was no longer part of their territory.  It accomplished what aimed to, ended the impressment of Americans in the English navy and use of Indians to harass the colonies.  Sorry, but it was never an attempt to gain more territory, despite the delusional statements that had “Canada” not won parts of Canada would be part of the US today.  The war was not fought to conquer a non-existent Canada, so any successful repulsion of invasions does not constitute winning the war.  The war aimed to end certain practices of the British Empire and succeeded in that. 

  31. This article goes to great lengths to show how Canada won the War of 1812, and I agree that Canada did in fact win.  The U.S. tried to invade, and failed.  Then Britain went on the offensive against America, and lost (witness the Battle of New Orleans.)  So, I would say, Canada beat America and America beat Britain. 

    Now….one thing this article fails to mention in depth is that victory would have been impossible without the contribution of Native allies, such as Tecumseh.  Mention is made, justly, of Sir Isaac Brock and Laura Secord, but what of Tecumseh?  The article would have done well to mention that the feints and ruses and ambushes of Tecumseh had a huge effect on the morale of the American soldiers, and of the ultimate results of the war.  And the novel mentions that Canada has “an accommodating native policy”–that has become much more true over the years, but it must be remembered that the native allies in that war were largely disenfranchised once their contributions were no longer needed.

    On the whole, it is important to temper our celebrations with a little more reflection.

    • Thank you for knowing what you are talking about. Those brave native Canadian soldiers are never considered. I’ve always thought about them with the War of 1812, and acknowledged their help, but know I’m realizing that I wasn’t taught that in school or anywhere else. I just grew up developing those feelings, probably because of where I live. Burlington, Ontario started as a settlement by Joseph Brant, and Tecumseh Public School is right down the street. It’s pretty hard not to love them when you think about the fact that almost 200 years ago, they fought and gave their lives for the place that is now your home.

  32. the British Allies were the Native Americans,  there would not be a Canada if it was not for the Victory of a nation of bows and arrows, there was no writing because the indians could not write.  a war won by hiethens.

  33. Being, not American nor US…I’m an Aussie, it has always been interesting to look at this from an outside point of view.
    Having spent a lot of time on this, its quite clear the British won the war.
    The US’s main objectives were to get the trade restrictions lifted, to get the Brits to stop impressment, to capture Canada and to neutralise the natives.
    Out of these four objectives, the US only managed the last one.

    The British/Canadian objective was the defence of Canada which they did.

    Overall, by wars end, the Brits controlled more US territory, they had an army still campaigning on US soil, they had the US Navy blockaded. The US had lost more troops, overall suffered more casualties, and had their capital burnt down. 

  34. this article does a great job of totally expunging the indpendant indian nations who fought along with the british and colonial troops, and were later abandoned at ghent when previous territoral promises were about as ignored as this article again emphasizes…exactly who’s propaganda organ is playing now?

  35. Great story!

  36. grapes

  37. americans win

  38. this was amazing!!!

  39. A wasted opportunity to unite a continent.

    The only feasible way now might be for the U.S. to annex itself to Canada.