The above cartoon is from the New York Times’ best selling author Kate Beaton and maybe the only Canadian historical cartoonist on the planet! You can find more of Ms. Beaton’s work at her official website: Hark A Vagrant! (or her best selling book of the same name). We appreciate her giving us permission to share the cartoon with the EmbraceNiagara audience.
Kate Beaton’s cartoon really hits the nail on the head regarding the way many remember the War of 1812.
Essentially, the War of 1812 was a (relatively) quick bloody war between neighbours that was amiably resolved and resulted in mixed feelings for those involved.
In Britain, they were preoccupied with the Napoleonic War in Europe at the time and few of their regulars or resources were committed to the conflict in North America so it doesn’t rate as a particularly memorable conflict in their history of long and bloody wars fought closer to home.
The US went on to be involved in many, much more costly and politically volatile battles through their history and many Americans view the War of 1812 as little more than a brutal but quick fistfight with their younger brother.
In Canada, however, especially in Ontario and along the border in the Maritimes, there still is a strong sense of pride and sense of accomplishment that the rag-tag Canadian forces held off the attacks of the US army, forced them back and eventually burnt down the White House.
The War of 1812 ended in 1814 and set the stage for a peaceful and productive relationship between Canadians and Americans for the next 200 years.
Fortunately, the only gunpowder being exchanged between these nations these days is through a series of iconic re-enactments being held over the next 2 years as part of the bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812.
Katie and I spent a full day at Fort Erie exploring the encampments and the beautifully restored Fort itself (home to the British and then taken by US forces and burned down before returning to the US). Then the real fun started as hundreds of soldiers appeared in reds and blues and greens with muskets, rifles and cannons and engaged in a terrific re-enactment.
JUST THE FACTS: War of 1812 Events and Celebration of 200 Years of Peace
As a commemoration of 2 centuries of peace between Canada and the United States of America and in conjunction with Niagara’s designation as a Cultural Capital of Canada a large number of events including accurate re-enactments of major historical battles will be on display throughout the Niagara area from 2012-2014.
To learn more about the rich details that played such a role in shaping the identity of two young nations as well as a schedule of events you are encouraged to visit the following websites: Parks Canada, Visit1812.com, Discover1812.com