Learning from our past

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Canadians are not a particularly patriotic people. Sure, we wave the flag on Canada Day and proudly sing O Canada before every major sporting event. But most Canadians today probably wouldn’t know the name of our second prime minister or wouldn’t know Sir Isaac Brock from Dieter Brock.

On Tuesday, Heritage Minister James Moore announced the federal government is making plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, when most British forces – and a few from various colonies that would 55 years later make Canada’s first provinces – beat off an invasion from the United States, spurred on by a number of by a hawkish president and government and anger over several British pieces of legislation aimed at stalling commerce in the new nation and former colony.

The War of 1812 was a defining moment in Canadian history in that it brought together both English and French and Aboriginal Canadians under a common cause. The U.S. thought the invasion of a fractured nation would be an easy thing, but thanks to the heroism shown by Brock, who was killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights, Charles-Michael de Salaberry, Tecumseh and Laura Secord the Amercian invasion was quelled and eventually a new nation was born.

The $28-million federal plan will include an educational campaign on the war, along with up to 100 historical re-enactments, commemorations and local events and a permanent 1812 memorial in Ottawa.

The amount being set aside for the celebration may seem exhorbitant, considering the ongoing crisis in health care and the lingering affects of the recession, but hopefully it will lead to a greater appreciation of what it means to be Canadian.

It’s unfortunate that most Canadians know little of their history. It’s something our veterans have worked to fix by going into schools in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day. While in the grand scheme of things, an appreciation of the past may not be as important as funding key programs like health care, roads and bridges those who fail to learn from their past often repeat those mistakes.


Geographic location: United States, Canada, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Ken Russell
    October 25, 2011 - 18:05

    Never underestimate the power of Memorials to particular Canadian events such as Vimy Ridge and Ypres battles fought during WW1 in France and Belgium. Growing up in Dartmouth, there was a substancial monument with an eternal red light at the top to the battle of Sommes. This led me to look up this name and be introduced to Canada's incredible participation in "The Great War" and I have been a student of Canadian history since.