Historical Significance

My inquiry question is, To What Extent Did the War of 1812 Contribute to the Confederation of Canada? This is an important question about the past because this war shaped the country we live in today. Had this war played out differently, we might be living in America. Before the War of 1812, Canada didn’t have a lot of “nationalism”. The people who lived in the Canadian colonies usually did so because they had no other option. Many were immigrants from America that were forced out of the newly independent country. British loyalists and Native Americans that were pushed out of America, came to Canada. When the Americans started to attack the Canadian colonies, these groups of people (along with French-Canadians in Lower Canada) united to fight against a common enemy. On top ofup-and-low-canada this, the Canadians were heavy underdogs in this war. After the Siege of Detroit, in which the Americans surrendered, the Canadians felt pride for their home. As the Canadians continued to withstand the menacing American forces, Canadian nationalism grew. An example of this nationalism can be seen with a Canadian boy named Jacob Cline, who lived during the war. Jacob wrote, “The Americans were in high spirits, and when I said I was Canadian, one of the officers laughed and said, “You’ll soon be under the Yankey government, my boy.” I was sassy, like most boys of my age, and I said, “I’m not so sure about that.””. The question, To What Extent Did the War of 1812 Contribute to the Confederation of Canada, is important to ask because the way our country looks and acts today comes from this war. By learning the story of our nation, we can gain respect for important Canadians of the past and realize what it means to be Canadian.

 

Continuity and Change

There are many similarities between Canada today and the Canadian colonies before they confederated. One main similarity is the threat to the south, America. Before the confederation of Canada, the American North had just won the American Civil War. With this victory, there was some talk from American politicians about invading Canada. America had also canceled a treaty with Canada that allowed for free trade. This is similar to the relationship between America and Canada now. There are changes happening in the White House with President Trump and his trudeau-trump-1team. President Trump has also imposed new steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico are currently trying to renegotiate NAFTA, which is the North American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S. has disrupted free trade with Canada, which is also what happened right before Canada’s confederation. Canada’s solution in 1867 was to confederate. When Canada united in 1812 they were able to hold off the Americans. Since Canada might have been in another war with America, politicians decided to unite again under one country. In 2018, Canada is already a unified country. However, Canada has united with Mexico and the European Union to impose tariffs back on the United States. Although there are many differences between the politics of today and the politics of the 1800s, a common topic of unity is consistent throughout Canada’s history.

banderas-mexico-eu-canada

Cause and Consequence

The War of 1812 was the result of conflicts between Britain, France, and America. The Napoleonic Wars caused napoleonic-warsBritain and France to stop trading with each other. Britain even stopped American ships from trading with Europe and took American sailors and made them work on British ships. This caused President James Madison to declare war on Britain. Madison and most Americans thought that Canada would be easy to invade, while still causing harm to Britain. In order to defend against America, the British-Canadians, French-Canadians, and First Nations allied. The Canadians were able to hold off the Americans until the Treaty of Ghent was signed in 1814. This war set clear boundaries between Canada and America. The war also proved that Canadians did not want to be Americans, as the Americans thought before the war. However, after the American Civil War fears arose that America would try to annex Canada. This was the same fear that Canadians had before the War of 1812. Britain was also becoming more reluctant to defend the Canadian colonies. America had also abolished the Reciprocity treaty that allowed free trade between America and Canada. The combination of these events charged the idea of uniting the Canadian colonies in one country. This unity had saved Canada from America before in the War of 1812, so there was reason to believe that confederation would give Canada strength. At this time Canada was divided into Canada West, Canada East, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. Canada West was the most populous of the colonies and was led by John A. province_of_canada_east_and_west_zoomMacdonald and George Brown. They agreed with the idea of confederating Canada, which meant that Canada’s most populous region supported confederation. Later, Canada East supported confederation, followed by the Atlantic provinces (except Newfoundland and Labrador until 1949). In the conferences between the colonies, the framework was set up for a new country. Although a major reason for the confederation of Canada was the American Civil War, the idea of a unified nation came from the War of 1812.

 

Social Studies Inquiry Processes

Based on the research I conducted, I can conclude that although the War of 1812 didn’t have much of a direct impact on the confederation of Canada, the war planted the seeds for a unified Canada. In the War of 1812, the reason for the Native, French, and British people of Canada to unite together was the common threat of America. This was the first time that Canada fought independently of Britain, even though Canada was still a British colony. During the war, Britain was occupied with their own war with France, so there weren’t many resources available for the Canadians. Canada mostly relied on the people who lived in the area to fight. When Canada was able to contest with the much more dominant Americans, Canada established itself as a formidable enemy. They were not Americans, and they were able to fight without much help from Britain. Canada was its own community that contained British, French, Native Americans, and former slaves. When these people united under one team, they were able to become a threatening force. For Canadians at the time, the War of 1812 was a little taste of what it would be like to be a part of330px-fathers_of_confederation_lac_c001855 a unified, independent nation. This taste was not forgotten in 1861 when America resurfaced as a threat to the people of Canada. This time, confederacy was established. Although the American Civil War may seem like the most obvious influence on the confederation of Canada, The War of 1812 spurred the idea of a unified, independent Canada.

 

Sources

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2012/06/17/the_war_of_1812_shaped_canada_forever.html

https://www.warmuseum.ca/war-of-1812/explore-history/the-canadian-war/

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/war-of-1812/

http://uk.businessinsider.com/trump-steel-aluminum-tariffs-on-canada-europe-mexico-will-hurt-us-jobs-2018-6/

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/confederation/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aB9qUlV3Uc

Crossroads Textbook

Canada: A People’s History Episode 5: “A Question of Loyalties”