Feds spend nearly $700K to acquire trove of documents from War of 1812

OTTAWA – A massive trove of books, maps and manuscripts from the War of 1812 now belong to Canada.

The federal government has paid nearly $700,000 at an auction in England to acquire what’s know as the Sherbrooke Collection.

Sir John Coape Sherbrooke served as the lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia from 1811 to 1816 and then as governor general of British North America until 1818.

His records from the time have been in his family’s hands almost ever since, though Canadian researchers have had access in the past.

The government says the collection is a remarkable record of political, economic, and military geography and operations in wartime.

The money to buy it came from Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian Heritage department and a private group known as the Friends of Library and Archives Canada.

The Conservative government spent millions promoting and celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 last year, saying it was a cornerstone moment of Canadian history that’s fallen by the wayside in people’s minds.

Heritage Minister James Moore called the acquisition of the collection an example of how the government is investing in making history more accessible to Canadians.

The lot, which includes 80 manuscript and printed maps, 37 letterbooks, original correspondence, one portrait and other unique artifacts, had been for sale via British auction house Bonhams.

The auction catalogue set a price for the collection at between $160,000 to $240,000.