Canadian Political Culture Grew out of War of 1812

Winnipeg Free Press, June 16, 2012 | Go to article overview

Canadian Political Culture Grew out of War of 1812


THE War of 1812 -- a conflict between Britain and the United States, much of it contested on Canadian soil -- was a decisive event in Canadian history.

The U.S. proved unable to conquer and annex Britain's Upper and Lower Canadian colonies, thus ensuring that Canada would develop as an independent nation within the British imperial orbit.

This summer marks the 200th anniversary of the outbreak of the war. Recent years have witnessed a flurry of scholarship on the conflict -- Ontario historian Wesley Turner's 2011 biography of British general Isaac Brock comes to mind -- but it is difficult to imagine a better introduction to the War of 1812 than this account by York University professor of political science James Laxer.

This military and diplomatic history of the War emphasizes the roles played by two inspired leaders on the British and Canadian side: Brock, the commander of the forces of Upper Canada and the head of its civil government; and his ally Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief who joined the British to fight the Americans who were systematically encroaching on native land.

Both Brock and Tecumseh were killed in action during the course of the war.

Laxer is particularly impressed by Tecumseh. The Shawnee chief's bravery and understanding of strategy and tactics made him a formidable warrior. His oratorical skills made him the pre-eminent political leader of his people.

Tecumseh worked tirelessly to forge a vast native confederacy that would form the basis of a native state in North America.

With Tecumseh's death, the confederacy disintegrated, and his dream of a native state became a lost cause. …

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