This weeks' thoughts: Canada - the 14th state part 2: 1812 on

This is a continuation of the last column, where I explored the background of the 1775 invasion of Canada by the Northern department of the Continental army. The end result was failure; the would be invaders were defeated by poor logistics and Canadian winter weather. Ironically, a large influx of Americans would flow into Canada after 1783. These Americans were Loyalists who had fought for the Crown; now unwelcome in their former homeland, they fled for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Upper Canada(modern Ontario). Kingston, York(Toronto), Fort Erie, and as far west as Detroit were settled by expatriate Americans.

Many Americans who would consider themselves patriots also migrated, drawn by the temptations of open land. This small contingent found themselves in a similiar position to the French Canadiens of 1775 when the War of 1812 flared up. Once again, hawks in the American political party called for the annexation of Canada. Troops flowed across the border at Detroit(where some ex-pat Americans did take up arms for the U.S.); Redcoats and Yankees moved back and forth across the Niagara in attack and counterattack. With the exception of the rising mentioned in Detroit, the Loyalists(and French Canadiens)rose up to repell the American invasion. Canada remained in British control at war's end.

Imperialist ambitions lingered on; the last attempt to grab Canada by the U.S. coincided with the Patriot's Rebellion of Upper Canada in 1837. After that, both sides settled down into an "on-guard" position. As late as 1867, Canada was building defensive works on Lake Ontario to guard against American intentions. Eventually the defensive posture was dropped, and the promise of the Rush-Bagot Treaty created the world's longest open border between two countries.

What we should learn from all of this is that the U.S. and Canada have always been two distinctly seperate countries and cultures. The U.S. and Canada essentially begin at the same point-1783, but diverge from there. We should work harder at learning the intertwined histories of these two nations, to gain a better understanding of our closest neighbors.

send any comments to the scribe.
Copyright Greg Ketcham 1997