Remembering ‘the fight for Canada,’ 200 years on

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As long ago as 1842, with the War of 1812 just three decades in the rear-view mirror, Major John Richardson was already lamenting that its heroism and import were being forgotten in Canada.

“It is a humiliating yet undeniable fact,” Richardson harrumphed, “that there are few young men of the present generation who are at all aware, except by vague and inaccurate report, of the brilliant feats of arms, and sterling loyalty displayed by their immediate progenitors.”...

The War of 1812 has been called by U.S. historians “Our Strangest War,” “A Forgotten Conflict” and “Mr. Madison’s War” (after U.S. President James Madison). It’s also been called the War that Both Sides Won, “a curious little war,” “a silly little war” fought between creaking sailing ships, inexperienced armies and bumbling generals.

Whatever the name, it remains the only real war, said the great historian J.M.S. Careless, fought in English Canada in defence of the country’s own soil.

Thinking, doubtless, of Brock, the great chief Tecumseh and the heroine Laura Secord, Careless wrote that “the very creation of heroes and legends out of the conflict reveals the impact that it made on popular consciousness.”...

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