War of 1812 – Bicentennial


he War of 1812 in Toronto

Not far from my home in Downtown Toronto, is the site of the first Parliament buildings in Toronto.

The building that now stands on this site has the following words written on the front.
Built 1797 – Burnt 1813 – Back 2012

This year of 2012 is the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812.

Image source – City of Toronto Bicentennial Celebrations

The conquest of Canada is within our power. I trust I shall not be deemed presumptive when I state that I verily believe that the militia of Kentucky are alone competent to place Montreal and Upper Canada at your feet.
Henry Clay to the US Senate
February 22, 1810

Ontario Heritage Trust

The War of 1812

Built, Burnt, Back

This is the outside of the new 1812 Interpretive Centre (officially opened in February 2012). It is located on the site of the first Parliament buildings that were erected in 1797, burnt down by the Americans in 1813 and brought back to virtual life through this new Interpretive Centre in 2012.

This centre tells the story of the War of 1812 and what happened before and after the original Parliament buildings on this site were burnt down by the Americans.

First we need to understand why the Americans invaded Canada.

In February 1810, Senator Henry Clay (he later became the Speaker of the House of Representatives) told the US Senate that he was sure that the militia of Kentucky alone, would be enough to conquer Canada. He was also the leader of a group within Congress that Thomas Jefferson called the War Hawks. This group was agitating for a war.

They wanted a war because the economy was depressed, prices were rising and the British Navy was blockading the USA so that the Americans could not export and sell their cotton and other goods to France. Remember the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, when the USA purchased large tracts of the mid west from Napoleon. That gave Napoleon money to pay for his wars. The British blocked the USA to prevent any further support of Napoleon.

The Brits had been fighting against Napoleon for the past 7 years and so they were experienced and tired. The War Hawks eventually goaded Congress into a new war to try and kick the British out of North America. On June 18, 1812, the US Congress declared war on the British and invaded Canada, because Canada was still a British colony.

The plucky Canadians (well actually they were still Brits at that time since Canada did not become a nation until 1867) fought back against the Americans and managed to push them back across the St Lawrence river and back across the Great Lakes.It was a very long and bloody war and took the Canadians 30 months (that’s 2 and a half years) to do so.

The Americans were sore losers and in their retreat, they burnt whatever they could – including the Ontario Parliament buildings in 1813. Those same buildings that were originally located just a few blocks up the road from my home.

In retaliation, the following year, the Canadians (or Brits if you want to be accurate) headed for Washington DC where they promptly burned down the White House. – except that it was not white. It was actually painted PINK at the time. It did not become the White House until after 1815 when it was rebuilt.

Image Source – Personal Photo – Copyright to Serenia 2012.

Information Source – Invasion of Canada (1980) and Flames across the Border (1981) – both books written by Pierre Berton.

The First Parliament Buildings

1797 – 1813

The First Parliament Building

This is a sketch of First Parliament Buildings of Upper Canada located in the town of York (now called Toronto) that were BURNT DOWN by the AMERICANS in 1813. The site of these buildings was re-discovered in 2004, and now has the 1812 Virtual Interpretive Centre (with the big red sign) built above it.

The American General Zebulon Pike was fatally wounded by a large piece of masonry after the British powder magazine blew up.

For 5 days (April 27 to May 2) the Americans looted the town of York (what is now downtown Toronto) rampaging through houses, stealing furniture, jewellery and other items of value. This looting ended with the burning the Parliament buildings on the night of May 2nd 1813.

Image Source Jarvis Collegiate Institute

The First Parliament Buildings Plaque

British Army Redcoat Uniform from 1812

The Brits are coming, the Brits are coming...

Image source – Both photos above are personal photos by Serenia – copyright 2012

Taken at the 1812 Interpretive Centre, Toronto

Uniform Reproduction owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust

Who Won the War of 1812

The Debate – Canada versus USA – filmed June 2012 – for the Bicentennial
powered by Youtube

The War of 1812

by Pierre Berton

Invasion of Canada (1980)Pierre Berton wrote 2 books about the War of 1812.

The first book is called the Invasion of Canada (1812-1813). This explained what led up to the US invadsion of Canada and how the early battles were fought when they did invade. It ends at the Massacre of Frenchtown on the River Raisin in January 1813. This massacre took place in what is now Monroe, Michigan.

The second book was called Flames across the Border (1813-1814). It starts with the Capture of York Town (Toronto) and the burning of the Parliament buildings in June 1813. It goes on to explain how the Americans burned everything they could as they retreated because they were losing this war badly.

This book also explains how in 1814, the Canadians were able to make one short quick precision strike into the USA to strike at Washington DC and burn down the presidents house. Only after it was rebuilt, would it come to be called the White House.

Image Source – Indiana State University

Books about Canada in the War of 1812

British Generals in the War of 1812: High Command in the Canadas

by: Wesley B. Turner

Amazon Price: $20.08 (as of 09/19/2012) Buy Now

Searching for the Forgotten War – 1812 Canada

by: Patrick Richard Carstens, Timothy L. Sanford

Amazon Price: $14.81 (as of 09/19/2012) Buy Now

Redcoats’ Revenge: An Alternate History of the War of 1812

by: USA (Ret.) Col. David Fitz-Enz

Amazon Price: $14.84 (as of 09/19/2012) Buy Now

Pierre Berton’s War of 1812

by: Pierre Berton

Amazon Price: $34.95 (as of 09/19/2012) Buy Now

Related Lenses

Pierre Berton Pierre Berton – Canadian Icon
I have made this lens for Rocket Moms University – Session 12 – Lesson 2 – Let’s Get Niche My Niche Topic is – Books, Poetry & Writing � Authors � Non Fiction…

Resources for Upper Canada

War of 1812 – Bicentennial

Ontario Heritage Trust – Home Page
Main Official Website
Ontario Historical Plaques
Personal and Private website – but very informative.
Toronto Historical Plaques
Personal and Private Website – and very informative
War Hawks – US Congress – 1810
A group of 20 men in the US Congress who were agitating for a war to stop the British blockade of the USA.
The War of 1812
Website produced by Gala Film
Henry Clay’s Drive for war
Details of how Henry Clay and his Warhawks, coerced, goaded and bullied the US Congress into a new war.
Origins of the War of 1812
Louisiana Purchase
Battle of Frenchtown
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1 Response to War of 1812 – Bicentennial

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