War of 1812: Canadian Perspective. Carter Man

To summarize the CBS video, the War of 1812 was a victory for the Canadians, a forgotten war for the British and Americans, and a defeat for the Native Americans. According to the video, Canada won because it successfully defended itself and its values from invaders. For Britain, the war was largely forgotten because the British were far more preoccupied by what Napoleon was doing in Europe. For the U.S., the video says the war is forgotten, but doesn’t really provide a reason why. If the Canadian perspective I looked at is accurate, the war is likely forgotten in the U.S. because the Americans struggled in a war in which they were the aggressors. For the Native Americans, the war was a defeat because they ultimately lost the ability to govern themselves as a consequence of the war.

Regarding the Canadian perspective exhibit, the War of 1812 is depicted as a successful defense of the then colony (Canada) against a much larger aggressor (United States). The exhibit focuses on key Canadian figures during the war, important battles, why the war started, consequences of the war, and some other miscellaneous details. Many events, figures, and events are often presented twice, such as Isaac Brock’s leadership in defending Canada despite a shortage of troops and resources, his capture of Detroit, and his heroic defense of Niagra as well as Laura Secord’s 32 kilometer trek to warn the British of an impending American sneak attack. Other than their accomplishments being mentioned multiple times, Brock and Secord have appeared in Canadian pop culture as well. Brock has been used to recruit for Brock University (named after himself) in what is basically the Canadian version of America’s Uncle Sam’s “I want you!” poster. Likewise, Secord has become a popular branding choice of a Canadian chocolate company.

The video simply tries to provide a quick overview of the War of 1812, particularly what the war meant for the British, Americans, Canadians, and Native Americans. As the name suggests, the Canadian perspective of the War of 1812 tries to demonstrate how the war was perceived from the Canadian perspective. The museum’s purpose appears to be to portray the War of 1812 from the four different perspectives mentioned previously. The aspect I focused on focuses on the Canadian aspect.

As always, one must always be aware of bias in looking at a certain perspective of an historical event. There isn’t much to be critical of in the video. It largely operates as a quick preview of the War of 1812 from the four different perspectives. The video did a good job of stating its main views on the War and provided sufficient introductory commentary with it. The video was well done for introductory purposes.

From what I can see, the Canadian perspective seems to celebrate what appears to be a British victory. Sure it discusses how Canadians contributed and fought with the British in playing a vital part of the victory, but most of what was depicted seemed to largely be the work of the British, with the Canadians playing a supporting role. Perhaps the same could be for the Americans though in the American Revolution, as they received mush assistance from the French.

I also found the images of Mookomaanish and Secord intriguing. Starting with Mookomaanish, I honestly thought he was supposed to be a hipster or something like that when I first saw him. Despite being a Native American, he looks incredibly European. He’s white, he’s wearing a cross, symbolizing Christianity, and he appears to be dressed in European décor. Though the description says he is wearing a mixture of European and Native American clothing, it appears to be predominately European with the Native American aspect limited to his feet and one of his legs. Likewise, the Canadian shows two sketches/paintings of Laura Secord that I find radically different from each other. In her “key personalities” portrait, she looks like an elderly peasant women. In the portrait of her warning the British of the American ambush, she appears much stronger and younger than in the other portrait. My guess is that the sketch of the older Secord is more accurate, but she is depicted differently in the portrait in order to glorify her as a key figure in the Canadian war effort.

I also found the Canadian perspective of the Native Americans interesting. Native Americans were discussed frequently, and each time they were, they were always depicted in a positive light. They were often depicted fighting valiantly for the British and Canadians, thwarting American ambushes, and even showing mercy to at least one wounded American soldier. In American history, we are typically taught that Native Americans were peaceful at some times and savage at others. In the Canadian perspective, all Native Americans seem to be depicted well, even though the Canadian perspective admits they got a rotten deal after the war.

I also noticed that the only battles depicted were Canadian successes or those that depicted Canada in a positive light. Shown were the Canadians capturing Detroit, valiantly defending Queenston, and blocking an American ambush of an American occupied town. But how did that town come to be occupied by the Americans in the first place? Likewise, the famous defense of Queenston is remembered for Brock’s sacrifice. This strikes me as a Canadian Dunkirk. Not to say the two are the same, but Queenston doesn’t seem to be much of a victory for the Canadians, after all, it clearly seemed that the Americans had them on the defensive. On top of that, the Americans killed a top Canadian military leader, and the Canadian perspective relishes that because they see Brock as a martyr. I wonder if perhaps Queenston, like Dunkirk, was used as a moral victory rather than an actual victory in order to reduce the sting of defeat. I can’t really fault the author for focusing on the bright spots of the Canada war effort in this instance. Since he is focused on the Canadian perspective of the war, it makes sense that he would highlight the better parts of the war from the Canadian side.

Word Count: 1021

Canadian War Museum. “The Canadian War.” warmuseum.ca. Accessed September 27,
2017. http://www.warmuseum.ca/war-of-1812/explore-history/
the-canadian-war/.

  1 comment for “War of 1812: Canadian Perspective. Carter Man

  1. blogrh
    October 19, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Very nice, extended description of the Canadian perspective of the War of 1812. I also like the way you differentiated the Canadian view of native Americans from the typical American view. Yes–different perspectives offer us new ways to understand events. And I think that you may be right that the Canadian view of the War of 1812 serves purposes beyond that of simply recording historical events. Canadians aren’t just a bunch of polite and docile people living in the cold north. They can fight in the dirt as well as anyone, when provoked, and even take on their neighbors to the south. RH

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