Ottawa, Ontario, April 5, 2012—Two hundred years after the start of the War of 1812, the Canadian War Museum is commemorating this major national turning point with an innovative exhibition that presents the conflict through the eyes of the war’s four main participants: Canadians, Americans, the British and Native Americans. 1812, supported by National Presenting Sponsor TD Bank Group and National Supporting Sponsor Ancestry.ca, opens to the public on June 13, 2012. Featuring more than 160 artifacts from North American and British institutions, this unprecedented dynamic approach will provide visitors a deeper understanding of the war, its causes and its consequences.
“The 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 is the perfect time for Canadians to re-examine a pivotal moment in our national history, and we are proud to commemorate this historic event,” said Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation, which operates the Canadian War Museum. “1812 gives all Canadians an opportunity to learn more about a complex conflict that changedCanada’s destiny and set it on the path to nationhood.”
“The War was instrumental in the creation of Canada’s military, and many Canadian reserve regiments can trace their origins back to it,” said the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. “With this wonderful exhibition and its virtual and travelling versions, the Canadian War Museum will help Canadians from across the country increase their knowledge and appreciation of this defining chapter in our history.”
All four key participants have their own interpretations of the significance of the War of 1812. For Canadians, it was a series of American invasions successfully repelled by French- and English-speaking Canadian militia, British Regulars (members of the Royal Navy or British Army), and First Peoples warriors. For Americans, it was about standing up toBritain, which was trying to interfere with theUnited States’ overseas trade. To the British, the conflict was vastly overshadowed by the concurrent war against Napoleonic France and is little remembered today. For Native Americans, the war was a desperate fight for freedom and independence as they struggled to defend their homelands.
The juxtaposition of these conflicting and overlapping perspectives will offer visitors a unique and more nuanced way of learning about the War of 1812, and let them draw their own conclusions about the causes and consequences of historical events.
1812 will feature more than 160 artifacts, including iconic pieces from the Canadian War Museum’s own world-renowned collections, and others from Library and Archives Canada, Parks Canada, the McCord Museum, the Niagara Historical Society Museum, the Peterborough Museum and Archives, and the City of Toronto. Major American lenders include the Smithsonian, the New York Historical Society, the Kentucky Historical Society, the Museum of the Fur Trade, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Library of Congress. The British Museum, the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Armouries are lending exceptional artifacts from the United Kingdom.
One of the star artifacts of the exhibition will be the tunic worn by Sir Isaac Brock, Commander-in-Chief of British forces in Upper Canada, during the battle of Queenston Heights. The hole left by the American musket ball that killed Brock is clearly visible. Other highlights include the eagle standard from a Napoleonic French infantry regiment, the Treaty of Ghent, the Treaty of Washington and a First People’s chief’s medal from 1814. Graphics, mannequins, works of art, and audio-visual and interactive features will accompany and enhance the many artifacts on display.
In addition, the Canadian War Museum is proud to present Faces of 1812, an exhibition created by Library and Archives Canada highlighting the human side of the War of 1812. This complementary exhibition, to be displayed in the corridor adjacent to the main 1812 exhibition, consists mainly of portraits drawn from Library and Archives’ collection, as well as artefacts and other works of art depicting both military scenes and everyday life.
Both 1812 and Faces of 1812 will be on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa from June 13, 2012 until January 6, 2013.
Virtual and travelling versions of the exhibition will bring the perspectives and history of the War of 1812 to Canadians from coast to coast to coast, as will a companion catalogue co-published with Douglas & McIntyre.
The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national and international dimensions.
Manager, Public Affairs
Canadian War Museum
Avra Gibbs Lamey