In June events will take place across Canada to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812.
“Canada would not exist had the American invasion of 1812–1814 not been repelled; for that reason, the War of 1812 was a defining chapter in our history,” said Minister Moore
in a press release. “We invite all Canadians to learn more about this important part of our past and to take part in many of the activities and events that will pay tribute to our heroes.”
Today at Fort York the Ontario Heritage Trust will present a temporary exhibit hall at the site of the original parliament of Upper Canada. This had been burnt down during the Battle of York in 1813.
“The War of 1812 is a defining chapter in our history that helped lay the foundations for Confederation,” said Minister Raitt
in a press release. “Our Government is proud to support projects that instill a sense of belonging and pride in being Canadian.”
For three years, 1812 to 1815
, Canada was a battlefield with Americans and the British battling it out. After the American Revolution the United States had been growing their new country, expanding their borders. During this expansion Aboriginals were being displaced as the settlers moved westward. The First Nations people fought back. The United States accused Britain of arming the Aboriginals and on June 18, 1812 declared war on Great Britain. The goal was to take Ontario and Quebec. It was a goal that the U.S. failed to achieve.
There were other factors that lead to the armed conflict including being impeded by the British with trading with the French. Another issue was that Britain didn't recognize naturalized United States citizenship and considered British born citizens in the new nation deserters.
During the war there were victories on both sides but in the end the British won. Without help from First Nations, Canada was likely to have been lost in the war. Their roles on the battlefield at Michilimackinac, Detroit, Queenston Heights, Beaver Dams, Chateauguay and Crysler’s Farm helped lead the British to victory.
Some of those who fought in the war for the British had fled the United States including Black volunteers. Many of the "Coloured Corps" who fought at Queenston Heights were escaped slaves.
It was a bloody war, with army surgeons having to amputate limbs without anesthetics. "Biting the bullet" was a very literal context in the war. The doctors would place a bullet between a wounded soldiers teeth so that they would not bite through their tongue.
The Treaty of Ghent re-established the borders between Canada (British North America) and the United States to what had been in place in 1811. That treaty has become the world's longest undefended border.
“Over the next two years, the Bicentennial Commemoration will revitalize our collective memory of a war that shaped our national destiny,” said Michael Thompson
, City of Toronto Councillor and Co-Chair of the City’s Bicentennial Commemoration Steering Committee in a press release. “Equally important, it will leave behind a historic legacy for generations to come. The funding provided by Canadian Heritage is a major contribution towards the achievement of our goals.”