War is not the whole storyBy John Longhurst
Growing up in Canada’s Niagara region, I heard a lot about Isaac Brock, the British general who was killed repelling American invaders at the battle of Queenston Heights during the War of 1812.
As a child, my father took me on many pilgrimages to the old battlefield. We followed the path of Brock’s dash by horseback from Fort George to the village of Queenston, up the heights past the Redan and Vrooman batteries, to the spot where he was shot down while leading a failed charge against U.S. forces.
Later, we’d go to the nearby museum to reverentially gaze at Brock’s tunic — the one he wore that fateful day, the bullet hole above his heart still clearly visible.
Yes, I heard lots about Brock, and how he helped save Canada from American invasion. And I expect to hear a lot more about him this year, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The Canadian government will make sure of that.
Canada’s government is spending millions of dollars on the commemoration. The goal is not just to remember the conflict but to foster a sense of “renewed patriotism” and “standing on guard for the country.” Canada’s military will play a prominent role.
I’m not opposed to the commemoration. It shaped both our nations. The war gave me a country and gave Americans a national anthem, among other things. It deserves to be remembered.
But I will be unhappy if the official events don’t also celebrate the two centuries of peace between our two nations — a remarkable achievement, when you consider all the wars that have occurred between so many countries over the last 200 years.
Speaking of peace, it would also be nice if there was a nod, at least, to those who tried to stop the war. This would include people like Duncan McColl, a Canadian Methodist minister who served churches on both sides of the border in New Brunswick and Maine.
When war was declared, McColl called together the men from both countries and persuaded them to declare they wouldn’t fight each other. Later, he confronted both American and British soldiers who came to the area, sending them elsewhere to do their fighting.
He wasn’t the only one; Mennonites, Quakers and Tunkers (now known as Brethren in Christ) who lived near the fighting in Ontario also refused to fight.
Comment on the article War is not the whole story
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.