Tag Archives: War of 1812

Rebranding Canada with Comics and the Continuing Co-optation of Tecumseh

Rebranding Canada with Comics and the Continuing Co-optation of Tecumseh

A very good post about Canada and the War of 1812 … and more. I hope you enjoy it as well! – Teri

We are joined by a guest piece this week for Indigenous Comix Month – Sean Carlton is a PhD Candidate at the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies & Indigenous Studies at Trent University. Please follow the links for more on this in-depth piece!

Rebranding Canada with Comics: Canada 1812: Forged in Fire and the Continuing Co-optation of Tecumseh


In the current age of austerity, the Harper Government allocated over $28 million to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. For many historians this proved to be an unpopular decision. It even drew the ire of the much-maligned Jack Granatstein, who pointed out, “This is also a government that’s slashing the national archives dramatically and killing the national library by cuts. On the one hand they’re good for history and on the other hand they’re bad for history—you sometimes wonder if they really know what they are…

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Posted by on April 13, 2014 in Reblogged


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How Many Times Can a Man Be Buried?

English: Maj. Gen. Sir Isaac Brock

Maj. Gen. Sir Isaac Brock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know that Sir Isaac Brock, a hero in the War of 1812, was buried four times? Isn’t that incredible? That certainly deserves a longer text.

He died of gunshot wounds at the Battle of Queenston Heights on October 13, 1812. His body lay in state at the Government House (in what is now Niagara-on-Lake, Ontario) until October 16. Lieutenant Colonel John Macdonell, Brock’s colonial aide-de-camp who died in the same battle, was buried with him at nearby Fort George.

By the way, even though the Americans captured Fort George in 1813, the graves remained undisturbed.

In 1814, the legislature for then Upper Canada decided that a monument should be erected near Queenston where Brock died. It took quite a while to raise enough money for the monument, so even though it wasn’t completed, Brock and Macdonell were buried a second time on October 13, 1824, ten kilometres away. About eight thousand Americans and Canadians attended the event.

On April 17, 1840, an explosion severely damaged the monument. That happened because of an Irish-Canadian, involved in the Rebellion of 1837, by the name of Benjamin Lett. Apparently he was just seeking revenge against the British.

By 1842 officials decided that a second monument should be built. As these things sometime happens slowly, work began in 1853. It was necessary to move Brock and Macdonnell to temporary graves in the village of Queenston. Are you still counting with me?

October 13, 1853 marks the fourth and final burial for these men. About fifteen thousand attended the event, some of whom were veterans of the War of 1812. The structure was inaugurated on October 13, 1859!

Phew! May they finally rest in peace.


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Demonstration Turned Bloody…

Sir George Prevost by Rovert Field

Sir George Prevost by Robert Field

This is a repost from my blog last year.  I am doing this because I think it’s a story worth re-telling!  I hope you all agree …

One of the world’s great examples of international co-operation is the St. Lawrence Seaway, built and maintained jointly by Canada and the United States.

Near its western end is a new bridge linking Prescott, Ontario, and Ogdensburg, New York.  Strangely, it could equally be a memorial to some bitter fighting which occurred there during the War of 1812, or to the raid by American members of the Hunters’ organization in 1838.  They were hoping to “liberate” Canada from Britain.

It was on February 22, 1813 that British-Canadian troops won a hard battle against the Americans at Ogdensburg.   Earlier in the month the Americans under Major Forsyth had come over the ice from Ogdensburg and raided nearby Brockville.  They took fifty-two Canadians back to Ogdensburg as hostages, as well as all the horses, cattle, pigs and chickens they could round-up.

Major Macdonnell of the Glengarries, stationed at Prescott, wanted to hit back, but Governor Sir George Prevost would not allow him to attack.  Perhaps he felt the hostages might be killed.  However, Macdonnell persuaded Prevost to allow him to put on a “demonstration” on the river.

Macdonnell took 480 men and three pieces of artillery out on the ice.  The river is more than one mile wide there.  The “demonstration” was suddenly turned into a real attack.

The Canadian troops had no shelter, but they advanced through the American gunfire.  There was a bloody battle as they fought their way into Ogdensburg and the Americans fled into the woods.

Macdonnell returned to Prescott with seventy-four prisoners, twelve guns, three hundred tents and a large measure of food and ammunition.  There were no more raids on the Prescott-Brockville area during the rest of the war.  Later in the year, American General Wilkinson left Sackets Harbor, New York, with 8,000 men and sailed past Prescott with the intention of attacking Montreal.   They landed below Prescott and suffered disastrous losses at Crysler’s Farm.

Very recently, I read an interesting article in Maclean’s Magazine about a version of “why” the Americans lost the battle of Ogdensburg. You can read it on Maclean’s site.

Another interesting site is Celebrate


Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Longer Entries, War of 1812


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Smart Deception Saves Montreal

Battle of the Chateauguay

Battle of the Chateauguay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems strange that films showing cowboys fighting Indians should be so popular on North American television.  Perhaps cowboys fared better than soldiers in the Indian wars, but certainly the Canadian Indians terrified American troops during the War of 1812.

A great French-Canadian military leader, Colonel Charles de Salaberry, probably saved Montreal from being captured in 1813 by using the Indians to scare off a strong American force.  While General Wilkinson was moving 8,000 American soldiers down the St. Lawrence  towards Montreal, General Wade Hampton was preparing to attack from Lake Champlain, with 4,000 regular infantry, a squadron of cavalry, and 10 guns.  After two days of heavy going through woods and marshes, his troops came to the Chateauguay stream in Canadian territory.

The British knew of the American plan and had sent de Salaberry to Chateauguay with four companies of his own Voltigeurs, (French militia, originally created by Napoleon I), Canadian Militia and 170 Indians.  De Salaberry established a strong defensive position, where the only road through the woods, led to a ford across the river.

The attack began on October 25 and continued through the following day.  Colonel de Salaberry  had his Voltigeurs defending an advance position and the ford.  At the same time he sent a company of militia, some Indians, and all his buglers into the woods across the river.   As de Salaberry expected, the Americans made a frontal attack on the forward position, while sending another force to try to take the ford.  They ran into strong opposition from the Voltigeurs in their defensive positions, who were deadly shots with their muskets.

Then the sound of bugles and the war cries of the Indians were heard, giving the impression that a military force was coming from Montreal.  The Americans were in such a state of panic that they began firing at each other!  General Hampton ordered them to withdraw, spent three days considering what his next move should be, and then decided to retreat.  Four thousand American soldiers had been turned back by 400 French-Canadians and their Indian allies.

When General Wilkinson heard that General Hampton had withdrawn, he also decided to give up.  Montreal had been saved.

Do you still want to read more about today’s post?  I can suggest a few sites to get you started.  There’s the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, and the Royal Canadian Mint, and then the CBC’s Canada: a People’s History. And lastly I highly recommend you stop by the Government of Canada’s Heroes of the War of 1812.



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They had Witnesses To Prove It

English: Fort Astoria, 1813

English: Fort Astoria, 1813 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If a British naval captain had not been so wide awake, to put it politely, Canada might now own what is American territory as far south as Portland, Oregon.  The Columbia River would be the “St. Lawrence of the West.”

Fort Astoria, near the mouth of the Columbia River, had been established by John Jacob Astor in 1811.  The fort’s only link with the outside world was a ship which visited the fort while on trading trips to Vancouver Island and dropped necessary supplies.  Unfortunately the captain was a rough character, and on one occasion struck an Indian chief who came on board to trade.   The next day members of the tribe came on board, ostensibly to trade, drew their knives and killed the captain and most of the crew.  The ship’s clerk, mortally wounded, crawled down to where the ammunition was stored, and set off a blast that killed the Indians and sent the ship to the bottom.

As a result, the people at Fort Astoria were isolated and without supplies.  They were starving when a party of Nor’Westers appeared, after travelling David Thompson’s route down the Columbia, and they were glad to sell the post to the North West Company.  They would be assured of supplies, and protection from any British naval unit that might appear.

In the meantime, such a unit had been sent to capture Fort Astoria.  It was H.M.S. Raccoon under the command of Captain William Black.  After sailing all the way from Britain he was greatly disappointed to find that Fort Astoria was already British territory, through purchase by the North West Company and not through a brilliant naval action of his own.  So Captain Black put on a show.  On December 12, 1813, he hauled down the British flag and raised it again, while the Americans and Indians watched the performance.

When the War of 1812 ended, it was agreed that all territory taken by military action would be returned.  Britain claimed Fort Astoria because it had been purchased from the Astor Company.  “Oh no,” said the Americans.  “The fort was taken by military action by the captain of H.M.S. Raccoon.”  They had witnesses to prove it, and their case held good.  The fort was returned to the States on October 6, 1818, and Canada lost the territory from the British Columbia border to Portland, Oregon.

If you would like to read more about Fort Astoria, I would suggest the Great Battles of the war of 1812 – there’s a great timeline there.


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Three Miles From What?

Charlottetown Harbour, Prince Edward Island.

Charlottetown Harbour, Prince Edward Island. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canada‘s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, has three nicknames, which is more than any other province can claim. It is known as “the Garden of the Gulf,” “the Cradle of Confederation,” and “the Cradle in the Waves.”  The cradle has rocked too sharply at times.

The famous Canadian sailing ship Marco Polo was wrecked on Cape Cavendish (see my post of April 17).  The S.S. Queen Victoria, which took the Canadian delegates to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, was lost in a hurricane on October 4, two years later.  By coincidence the worst storm of all was also on October 4, but in 1851, when many American fishermen lost their lives off Charlottetown.  Estimates range from 150 to 300 lives.

The storm is known in history as the “Yankee Gale.”  There were more than 100 American fishing vessels off the north shore of Prince Edward Island when a freak storm suddenly blew up.  It lasted from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening, when watches on the shore could see 70 fishing vessels wrecked on the beaches and sand dunes.  Nearly all of them were from the New England states.  The bodies of a great many victims were never recovered, but 70 were buried in various cemeteries along the shore.

The real cause of the disaster was not the storm, but the lack of a clear-cut fishing agreement between the British North American colonies and the United States.  The situation had been confused since the War of 1812.  In 1818, it was agreed that Americans could fish outside the three-mile limit of Newfoundland and the Maritimes, but the problem was “three miles from what?”   The Americans said the treaty meant three miles from the winding of the coast, so that they could fish inside the wider bays.  Newfoundland and the Maritimes claimed that it meant three miles from the headlands, and American fishing vessels entering that boundary were taken into custody.  When the storm struck Charlottetown on October 4, 1851, the American fishing fleet tried to ride it out rather than risk running into the harbour.  The result was the great loss of life.

There was so much anger on both sides that Britain sent a number of Royal Navy ships to patrol the fishing grounds.  There was even a danger of war.  The dispute was settled by the Elgin-Marcy Treaty signed in 1854 which gave Canada a beneficial reciprocity treaty with the States, and the Americans better fishing rights (see my May 16 post).

To read more about this storm, I suggest visiting the Fishermen’s Voice and the Mocavo Blog.


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World’s Longest Skating Rink!

English: Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada, Janua...

English: Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada, January 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Rideau Canal between the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario is now used only by pleasure boats.  The lift from the Ottawa River to the canal is through a series of picturesque locks between the Parliament Buildings and the Château Laurier Hotel.  The first stone of one of the locks was laid by Sir John Franklin, the famous explorer.

The project that eventually led to the building of the Rideau Canal began on September 29, 1783, immediately after the end of the American Revolutionary War.  British military leaders wanted a route from the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario that would not be exposed to the American border.  Lieutenants Jones and French were assigned to survey what was ten wild territory and reported that a canal was possible by using the Rideau River and a chain of lakes.

Nothing was done until after the War of 1812, when the building of the canal again became an issue.  In 1824, Upper Canada became impatient with the delay and had another survey made by Samuel Clewes.  The British Government offered to lend upper Canada £70,000 to build the canal, but Upper Canada would not go through with it.  In 1826, the British Government sent Colonel John By to build the canal.  he built the eight locks up the steep cliff from the Ottawa River and reserved the land on either side for military purposes.

By coincidence, the opening ceremonies for the building of the canal in 1827 were on the same date that Jones and French began their survey, September 29.  People came from near and far, on foot, in canoes and by ox-teams.  It was an Indian summer: the forests were rich in colour, with scarlet maples and golden birches.  During the opening ceremony, where Governor Dalhousie turned the first sod, frogs in nearby marshes provided their “musical” accompaniment.  The first steamer, Rideau, made the journey from Kingston to Bytown in 1832.  The route was busy until nearly 1900 when railways made it unnecessary.

However, it becomes the “World’s Longest Skating Rink” in the winter!

The Rideau Canal is amazing, as is its beginning.  To learn more about it, I suggest going to the Rideau Canal World Heritage site, the Bytown Museum, the Canadian Encyclopedia, the Parks Canada. If you would like to take a holiday in Ottawa, then I would suggest clicking your way to Ottawa Tourism!


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