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1812 revisionism

So, not every Canadian buys into War of 1812 mythology.

http://www.filibustercartoons.com/index.php/2012/06/20/1812-two-centuries-later/ describes it for foreign readers, and calls it a bunch of questionable chauvinism, and links to http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/my-ancestors-and-the-worst-thing-that-has-ever-happened-to-this-country/article4285769/
which calls it a disaster that led to two-decade low-grade civil war and a long opposition to democracy and public schools and church-state separation as dangerous American ideas, along with taking an extra 80 years to eliminate property qualifications for voting. Indians were recruited because most 'Canadians' didn't want to fight.

The colonial administrators of Upper and Lower Canada, and later the prime ministers of the Dominion of Canada, made it clear over and over, right through the 19th century, that they favoured an agrarian, resource-based model of development.

Because we had imported a population composed largely of middle managers, loyal followers and acquiescent farmers, we had the right people for this.

And in the years after 1812, we forged the institutions to make it happen.

Canada studiously avoided introducing mass public education, even at the primary-school level, until well into the 1840s, lest it spread American ideas. And, as part of the post-1812 cauterization of the border, it banished the idea of separating church and state, instead making the Anglican and Catholic faiths almost mandatory – their leaders were granted one-seventh of all land that hadn’t already been surveyed.

Before the war, Methodist and Baptist preachers from the United States had promoted a distinctly North American individ- ualism, built on a personal witness before God, that had become the most popular form of worship among newly settled Canadians.

Afterward, Canada rigidly enforced the much more hierarchical, acquiescent forms of worship by making Anglicanism and Catholicism de facto established religions and blocking U.S. preachers from crossing the border.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/325736.html#comments



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 21st, 2012 02:34 am (UTC)
Good points, all.

It underlines the extent to which Canada would have been better off had the war not been fought at all.
Jun. 21st, 2012 02:53 am (UTC)
The Globe&Mail article seems to be fetishizing American democracy big-time. Of course the "repressive" cultural developments it cites (no separation of church and state, property required for voting) existed in Canada after 1812. In *Britain* property requirement for voting wasn't dispensed with until the 20th C, and the sovereign is still the head of the Anglican church today! Meanwhile other side-effects of Canada remaining a 19C British colony -- anti-slavery laws, for example -- aren't mentioned.

The economic analysis might be dead-on, I'm not sure. But I'd look to the book for a more detailed argument regarding the impact of politics as opposed to, say, climate in the development of Canada's economic infostructure.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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