The War of 1812

Two hundred years ago today, the United States declared war on Great Britain. The U.S. was just a young nation then and Britain was the world's main superpower, so it was a bold move. Since Canada was a British colony, it meant we were at war with the United States too.

The War of 1812-1814 is one of the world's oddest conflicts because both sides are convinced they won. In actual fact, the war was essentially a stalemate. Neither Britain nor the U.S. really gained or lost very much by it.

However, for Canada, the War of 1812 is of critical importance because we successfully repelled the foreign invasion of our country by American troops who made several attempts to seize both Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec). These victories set us on the path to ultimate nationhood and sovereignty later in the 1800s.

The War of 1812 also has personal significance for me because my Upper Canadian forebears were caught up in the conflict. Some served in the York Volunteers militia. My great-great-great grandfather Samuel Green was killed at the Battle of Stoney Creek in 1813. Like so many settlers on the Niagara peninsula, he was a United Empire Loyalist fighting against his former American countrymen.

So over the next couple of years, I will write periodic posts marking major events in the War of 1812-1814 as their bicentennial anniversaries arise. Stay tuned in October for the Battle of Queenston Heights!