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Monday, June 18, 2012

"We drove out the Americans"

Perspective is a funny thing, which is why Americans and Canadians remember yesterday's 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 much differently. Actually, Americans don't hear much about it (maybe because we lost).

 This was the second time we tried to take over Canada. Earlier, during the American Revolution, George Washington had planned an 1775 attack on Quebec City, hoping to conquer a 14th colony. That failed too.

Today, we can't imagine invading Canada. They're our allies, friends, buddies. What, we'd take down the country that gave us William Shatner, Pamela Anderson and Justin Bieber? OK, bad examples.

Fort McHenry in Baltimore.
Two hundred years ago yesterday, the United State declared war on Canada-- and Britain, of course. During the War of 1812, we torched York, which later changed its name to Toronto, now Canada's largest city. But Britain burned Washington D.C., cruised up to Baltimore and lobbed shots into Fort McHenry for two days.

 The British flotilla couldn't get into Baltimore, ran out of ammunition, and left the Chesapeake Bay. We got our Star Spangled Banner and everyone just went home. England was having plenty of problems of its own with Napoleon in France, and fighting two wars was too much. 

Americans remember Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. We sing along to Johnny Horton's "The Battle of New Orleans", the battle that was fought two weeks after the treaty was signed. Both are glorious reminders of our bright history, and how we took on the Big Guy and won.  Eh, maybe not.  First, we crossed the line by invading Sandwich, which is now part of Windsor, Ontario. Three years later, when the war was finally over, Canada was still not a U.S. property.

Canadians have a "War of 1812 Celebrations" site, which might tell us something.

Some Canadians remember that war a bit differently, as is shown by these comments from a Canadian Broadcasting Company website.
  • "Canada's victory in 1812 was a remarkable accomplishment.We were invaded by the United States, and we drove them out. I don't care how the Americans remember it."

  • " Is it a good idea for us in Canada to celebrate and commemorate the War of 1812 and rub in the fact that we stopped the Americans, burned Washington and bombarded Baltimore when we want the Americans to be our number 1 trading partner?  I guess the true question should be, does the majority of Canadians actual care about the war 1812, and if so why?"

  • " There are many groups involved in the 1812 war, and bringing this history forward is one of the things we as Canadians can do to help remind us of our heritage, and what brought us together as a great nation.We have many issues today driving us apart. Besides this is the only war that the US started where they were handed a resounding defeat. I enjoy reading and and have no issue with the reenactment, but what I did miss was the burning down of the US Whitehouse, why can't we do that again?"

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