Difficult War of 1812 Celebration

dumpthemonarchy

House Member
Jan 18, 2005
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Maybe the government should make this real low key. As low key as it makes the victory of 1759 on the Plains of Abraham of the English over the French that paved the way for Canada as we know it. This becentenial event should be very cheap as far as I am concerned, if only to save some money. We do have a major deficit.

No celebrating War of 1812 bicentennial, please, we?re Canadian

No celebrating War of 1812 bicentennial, please, we’re Canadian


By Jack Branswell, Canwest News Service June 19, 2010

OTTAWA — In two years, Canadians will find themselves celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of the start of the War of 1812, but don’t expect, to borrow a phrase from the current U.S. president, that we’ll be celebrating their butt-kicking.


While it was a bloody war, the commemoration will look more like a binational love fest.


Documents obtained through access-to-information from Parks Canada, the leading federal agency in the bicentennial celebrations, go to great lengths to state we will not celebrate what Canadians largely see as their first victory over the Yanks in an armed conflict.


“It must remain clear that we are not celebrating war but commemorating the sacrifices made by early Canadians from diverse backgrounds to defend their land against annexation,” the notes say. “The bicentennial represents 200 years of peace and establishment of friendly diplomatic relations with the U.S.”


The U.S. declared war on the British colonies — in what was to become Canada later that century — on June 18, 1812.


During the three-year war, a rag-tag band of militia, native forces and a small contingent of British regular forces managed to repel the American invaders in a series of battles — mostly in what would become Ontario and Quebec, but also in the Atlantic provinces.


“The War also represented an important milestone in Canadian-American relations,” the documents note. “While peace was threatened during the Rebellions of 1837-38, during the Oregon Boundary dispute in the 1850s and in the Fenian raids following the American Civil War, disagreements were settled diplomatically
rather than resorting to arms.


“In effect, the bloodbath of the War of 1812 ushered in an era of peace between British North America (Canada) and the United States and gave rise to the fabled undefended border between good neighbours,” the politically correct documents say.


There are no hints of Canadian triumphalism in the 161 pages, though Parks Canada did block more than 3,000 pages on the topic from being released. The closest they come to being even vaguely partisan is when they state that “the Americans planned to annex Upper Canada (Ontario) and all territory to the west.”


In fact, the documents suggest the anniversary should include “symbolic ceremonies involving the PM and the U.S. President” and further talk about co-ordinating events with U.S. ceremonies. In Canada, the war — and the fact the Yankee invaders were driven back — was seen as a nation-building event that eventually led to Confederation in 1867.

Desmond Morton, a McGill University historian, said there is no clear-cut answer to who won the war.


“Who won and who lost are always vague questions,” he said. “Both sides tell their kiddies that they won it. And both sides are probably telling some of the truth, which is unusual when you have official history.”


And while Canadians like to puff their chests out when we talk about the war, Morton says the conflict, “like most of our wars, has been afflicted with self-serving myths, notably that the brave Canadian militia saved the country from the wicked Americans.


“Who wanted to give any credit to the British redcoats, who suffered almost all the battle casualties in return for brutal corporal punishment and a wage of one shilling a day? The militia played a major role as a transportation corps, an essential wartime service but not seen as glorious to politicians and publicists.”



With files from Philip Ling and Randy Boswell, Canwest News Service
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service


 

Machjo

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Oct 19, 2004
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It would seem a little disrespectful for Canada to be commemorating the butt-kicking of the US.

Besides, many Canadians and Americans died in that war too. Let's not make a party out of a war commemoration. Instead, if we commemorate it at all, how about we pray for those souls that died on both sides. And certainly the Canadian government should not be funding this. Besides, what's intended to be accomplished by this?

Instead, save the government's money and let those who want to commemorate it commemorate it on their own dime as they see fit.
 

Liberalman

Senate Member
Mar 18, 2007
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The White House has a unique and fascinating history. It survived a fire at the hands of the British in 1814 (during the war of 1812)

This is what the tourist hears when visiting the American White House where the Americans whitewashed the burnt building so they are reminded of their failures on a daily bases.

If that would have happenned in another country the building would have been restored to it's former glory.

The Americans celebrate their failure in 1812 as a victory and I guess that's why the leader of the country lives there.

The White House is another reminder to the American people that in government thier love for white washing is the American way of life.
 

EagleSmack

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Feb 16, 2005
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This is what the tourist hears when visiting the American White House where the Americans whitewashed the burnt building so they are reminded of their failures on a daily bases.

If that would have happenned in another country the building would have been restored to it's former glory.

The Americans celebrate their failure in 1812 as a victory and I guess that's why the leader of the country lives there.

The White House is another reminder to the American people that in government thier love for white washing is the American way of life.

Say what? This is a new one!
 

Dexter Sinister

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Oct 1, 2004
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Nobody won the War of 1812, but the Americans clearly lost it. They achieved none of their war aims, no territory changed hands, it was really just a skirmish on the fringes of the Napoleonic wars in Europe and it achieved nothing, like most wars. Nobody won, some people just lost more than others. Canada wasn't even Canada at the time, it was a British colony, the war was between Britain and the U.S., not Canada and the U.S.
 

El Barto

les fesses a l'aire
Feb 11, 2007
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Nobody won the War of 1812, but the Americans clearly lost it. They achieved none of their war aims, no territory changed hands, it was really just a skirmish on the fringes of the Napoleonic wars in Europe and it achieved nothing, like most wars. Nobody won, some people just lost more than others. Canada wasn't even Canada at the time, it was a British colony, the war was between Britain and the U.S., not Canada and the U.S.
to the point , well said.
 

wulfie68

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Mar 29, 2009
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Nobody won the War of 1812, but the Americans clearly lost it. They achieved none of their war aims, no territory changed hands, it was really just a skirmish on the fringes of the Napoleonic wars in Europe and it achieved nothing, like most wars. Nobody won, some people just lost more than others. Canada wasn't even Canada at the time, it was a British colony, the war was between Britain and the U.S., not Canada and the U.S.

Thats not entirely accurate either. The biggest cause of U.S. hostility leading up to the warn was the practice that British ships would stop American merchant ships in neutral waters and press crewmen into service... even when these crew weren't British subjects (although in some cases, impressed crew were desserters which threw the whole practice into more murky territory). This practice however was discontinued about 8-9 months before the US invasion of the Canadian colonies, so the US got its wishes in the biggest demand. As stated, no territory really changed hands so the argument the US lost more than anyone else loses steam there as well (especially in further light that it led to the Americans' eventual annexation of Florida from Spain). The US navy was also able to emerge and assert itself to some degree, especially in the Great Lakes, whereas after Trafalgar, France and her allies/conquests wouldn't leave port for fear of the British Navy.
 

Dexter Sinister

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This practice however was discontinued about 8-9 months before the US invasion of the Canadian colonies, so the US got its wishes in the biggest demand.
Exactly, the war had nothing to do with it, France was defeated before it began and the blockade and impressment stopped. The Americans lost an army at Detroit, another at Queenston Heights, they expected the population of Upper Canada to rise in revolt and join them, which obviously didn't happen, the war achieved exactly nothing for them and the Treaty of Ghent simply confirmed the pre-war status quo. They started it, they achieved nothing, that's a loss. The negotiations after the peace, however, and the mythology that arose in the colonies about the war, played a large role in the current shape and nature of Canada. That's a gain.
 

CDNBear

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Sep 24, 2006
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In typical Canadian fashion, the nanny-staters at the Parks Canada will "white wash" history, as to not offend. Pathetic. This time they didn't even get threats of violence, as we saw when the notion of re-enacting the battle on the Plains of Abraham. Caused Parks Canada to fold like a proverbial lawn chair.

Thousands of re-enactors, and rendezvous'ers re-enact countless battles across the two nations annually. From the Battle of Carnifex Ferry to Queenston Heights. These people put an effort into recreating their costume and equipment, that borders on obsessive. No matter what side of the border, language differences, or Nationality, they re-enact these events for tourists with a penchant for historical detail that would put any politician or school board history teacher, to shame.

All without so much as a peep of controversy from the "losing" side, so long as we're talking south of the border. Here in Canada though, it's a great big issue. We saw this up close and personal a couple years ago here in Georgina, when the re-enactors that participated in the local Canada Day ceremonies were asked to leave their weapons in their campers and refrain from any displaying of fake animosity between the two sides.

Simply pathetic, another made in Canada pussification of history and acknowledgment thereof.
 

wulfie68

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Mar 29, 2009
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Exactly, the war had nothing to do with it, France was defeated before it began and the blockade and impressment stopped. The Americans lost an army at Detroit, another at Queenston Heights, they expected the population of Upper Canada to rise in revolt and join them, which obviously didn't happen, the war achieved exactly nothing for them and the Treaty of Ghent simply confirmed the pre-war status quo. They started it, they achieved nothing, that's a loss. The negotiations after the peace, however, and the mythology that arose in the colonies about the war, played a large role in the current shape and nature of Canada. That's a gain.

Well according to most historians I've read, British naval policy, namely the harassment and impressement of Americans was THE major cause of the antagonism, seconded by the British refusal to allow neutral shipping into French ports. The time delay in terms of communicating this across the Atlantic meant that the Americans didn't realize impressment had been discontinued (but not the blockades) in time to stop the hostilities, or defuse the "hawks". That was all coupled with the fact that Benjamin Franklin misjudged and didn't think Britain could win its war with France (and would have to shortly sue for a peace on American terms).

Another thing is that France was NOT defeated until 1814 when Napolean was exiled to Alba before returning to power and subsequent defeat at Waterloo in June of 1815.

I also don't see how the birth of the myth of the "stalwart colonial militia" is much of a gain for Canada or more of one than the emergence of the American navy. Do you think it instilled extra courage in our troops in the World Wars or other subsequent conflicts? I can see why Canadians may want to celebrate the actions of General Brock and Tecumseh (the two key personalities involved in stopping the US momentum, the irony of course being one was a British General and the other a native leader from what is now the Midwest USA) or the Battle of Queenston Heights itself but as far as official celebrations, I think it would be more productive to dwell on two centuries of peace between the US and the Canadian colonies.

I don't have a problem with re-enactors doing there thing, and thought it was an embarrassment that some Quebecers got all butt-sore over it on the Plains of Abraham anniversary. I witnessed some of the reenactments at Fort Ligonier, Pennsylvania last summer (they do a yearly celebration related to the Fort and its role in the French & Indian War)and thought they can be a tool in teaching our kids about that past. The period costumes, kit and weapons are something real they can see and gain an appreciation for a lot easier than words in classroom or textbook, no matter how eloquent the discussion.
 

Dexter Sinister

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Oct 1, 2004
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Well according to most historians I've read, British naval policy, namely the harassment and impressement of Americans was THE major cause of the antagonism, seconded by the British refusal to allow neutral shipping into French ports.
Yes, but as you said yourself, that stopped 8-9 months before the war began, plenty of time even with early 19th century communications to get the message.
That was all coupled with the fact that Benjamin Franklin misjudged and didn't think Britain could win its war with France ...
Franklin died in 1790, hard to see how he could have been involved.
I also don't see how the birth of the myth of the "stalwart colonial militia" is much of a gain for Canada...
It's a little more than that.
 

El Barto

les fesses a l'aire
Feb 11, 2007
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Quebec
In typical Canadian fashion, the nanny-staters at the Parks Canada will "white wash" history, as to not offend. Pathetic. This time they didn't even get threats of violence, as we saw when the notion of re-enacting the battle on the Plains of Abraham. Caused Parks Canada to fold like a proverbial lawn chair.

Thousands of re-enactors, and rendezvous'ers re-enact countless battles across the two nations annually. From the Battle of Carnifex Ferry to Queenston Heights. These people put an effort into recreating their costume and equipment, that borders on obsessive. No matter what side of the border, language differences, or Nationality, they re-enact these events for tourists with a penchant for historical detail that would put any politician or school board history teacher, to shame.

All without so much as a peep of controversy from the "losing" side, so long as we're talking south of the border. Here in Canada though, it's a great big issue. We saw this up close and personal a couple years ago here in Georgina, when the re-enactors that participated in the local Canada Day ceremonies were asked to leave their weapons in their campers and refrain from any displaying of fake animosity between the two sides.

Simply pathetic, another made in Canada pussification of history and acknowledgment thereof.
So in short this not only happens in Quebec?
 

wulfie68

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Mar 29, 2009
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Yes, but as you said yourself, that stopped 8-9 months before the war began, plenty of time even with early 19th century communications to get the message. Franklin died in 1790, hard to see how he could have been involved. It's a little more than that.

Sorry, Thomas Jefferson, not Franklin. Got my American founding fathers confused. His secretary of state, Madison was also a "Warhawk" and was the actual president during the war. A small error compared to thinking that Britain wasn't at war with France though...

As for the causes, I'll quote Wiki ( War of 1812 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ), even though I know they aren't the be-all and end-all of sources. They are reasonable (in this case) but by no means complete. They actually state that I was backwards in that Impressment was never repealed but most of the British "Orders in Council" refusing American ships access to French ports were before the war.

They list the 3 major causes of the war as:
1) Trade Tensions
2) Impressment
3) US Expansionism

They also share the theories on who won, with the most logical (to me) being the real losers were the native tribes under Tecumseh, who failed to win a homeland for themselves but gained the antipathy of the American gov't. But no mention of why the myth of the colonial militia looms so important...
 

Blackleaf

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Oct 9, 2004
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It would seem a little disrespectful for Canada to be commemorating the butt-kicking of the US.
.

If it's so disrespectful to celebrate a military victory over another nation then the US should abolish the July 4th celebrations.
 

Machjo

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Oct 19, 2004
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If it's so disrespectful to celebrate a military victory over another nation then the US should abolish the July 4th celebrations.

But from my understanding on July 4th they're not celebrating their victory over the British, but rather the gaining of independence for their nation. Sure it's thanks to victory over the British that they got their independence, but it still doesn't change the fact that they're celebrating their independence, not the victory over the British.
 

CDNBear

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Sep 24, 2006
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But from my understanding on July 4th they're not celebrating their victory over the British, but rather the gaining of independence for their nation. Sure it's thanks to victory over the British that they got their independence, but it still doesn't change the fact that they're celebrating their independence, not the victory over the British.


You should go into politics.
 

Machjo

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Oct 19, 2004
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You should go into politics.

If you think I could win a seat with my views, you're delusional.

As an aside, in this thread I'm not even half serious, and am playing around a little. But that doesn't change the fact that even ignoring this thread, I doubt I'd stand even the slightest chance to win a seat, judging by my voting success (not one candidate I've ever voted for has won yet).

Then again, your voting success is likely to be a good indication of your future electoral success. Judging from that, I'm out of the race.