This week my friend told me to watch a YouTube video, which the Government of Canada has made. It’s really a commercial made about the War of 1812 showing Harper and his Conservatives determination to instill a great military history in Canadians.
The commercial is literally epic and plays more like a preview for an upcoming movie. The video can be found at, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38BO7GI0vQQ, titled War of 1812 – The Fight for Canada. The man who provides the voice, the musical composition, and cinematography was amazing, which makes me wonder somewhat as to how much the government spent on it.
My friend posted this link on Facebook where she wrote, “Wait… The fight for Canada? In 1812? Sounds like someone is rewriting history.” I read it and laughed, because she is correct Canada didn’t exist at this point in time. The provinces of Upper and Lower Canada were present, but it wasn’t Canada in the sense the short video implies.
The commercial though promotes how the military protected our land 200 years ago as the United States invaded our territory to basically save Canada from the southern aggressors. It shows that First Nations, French, and English stood together to defend their land which was Canada. This, however, is not entirely how things happened. As mentioned it was not Canada at the time, but British North America, a colony of England. This probably being why the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, was signed in Europe.
The three groups that banded together to repel the American threat were at odds. The Americans thought that they were, for the most part, attempting to liberate the settlers in British North America. Those that took arms against the United States were mainly the British Army as the U.S.A. had declared war on Great Britain, not Canada or British North America.
The commercial basically shows the English, First Nations, and French as being equal in the fight. Most of the aboriginals fought on the side of Britain, with few exceptions, as the support of First Nations by the British was one of the reasons the U.S.A. wanted to create a second American Revolution. The Americans wanted to move west, but were being blocked.
The majority of First Nations felt that by fighting alongside the British they may be able to create the Grand Alliance of Native Nations, which would be a buffer state between Canada and the U.S. The First Nations hoped to settle internal divisions and gain help refuting American expansion, as well as gain the means to resist British designs in moving westward.
The French, who also fought for Britain, was unknown until alliances were drawn. At the time Britain was also fighting Napoleon. People were unsure if the French in British North America would therefore choose to fight for Britain, for the United States, for themselves, or simply become passive in the war efforts.
If Britain would have lost, then yes Canada may not exist in the same sense it does now. Technically the war came to a draw with no side “winning.” No land was ceded and no war indemnities were forced upon the United States, which Britain could have possibly done since they were technically winning and had pushed much of the American forces back.
The Battle of New Orleans, the reason why Americans say they won the war, actually happened after the treaty was signed. The fact that it was signed in Belgium meant there was a delay before the troops in North America were aware. The battle also took place in Louisiana, which shows how Britain could have asked to restructure the boundaries.
The multiculturalism that the Canadian Government is now boasting about, which took place in 1812, wasn’t really present. It was a surprise to many that the French actually fought for Britain and relations were still not perfect after this between French and English. In fact there is still a great distinction between the two.
The hope of a country for First Nations was not fulfilled. During the Treaty of Ghent the opportunity was there to ask for land cessions to create this other country by Britain, but it wasn’t done. Multiculturalism, therefore, didn’t really exist at the time, which is at odds with the promotion of the War of 1812.
Overall my point is this: The government, as being directed by Harper, is putting an emphasis on a military history of Canada, which isn’t quite as glorious as is being promoted. The war was very important in the sense that it solidified the fact that there were many people in North America who didn’t want to join the U.S. and were willing to work together against them, creating a basis for present day Canada; but, this did not mean they identified themselves as Canadians fighting for Canada.
Though if an American were to tell me they won the War of 1812 I would vehemently refute the claim, since it is an important part of our history. It’s just being used in a way by the Harper Government to glorify certain aspects of the war, which weren’t really in existence at that time.