For Canadians, the War of 1812 has held various meanings at different times. In the immediate aftermath, alongside the "Loyalist" narrative of fleeing from the defeat of the British at the hands of American rebels, the war was regarded as redemptive for those still loyal to British North America. From the American perspective, it is merely one in a host of small-scale wars in North America, and the events of 1812-1815 are mostly forgotten in the collective memory of the United States. The authors of 1812: A Guide to the War and Its Legacy believe that the War of 1812 was an important event in North American history with lasting consequences for Canadians, Americans, and First Nations. This guidebook, published by the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, uses modern satellite images, archival records, paintings, and contemporary photographs to help readers understand what happened during the war and why it happened that way. The book includes a historical section that seeks to place events in their strategic, operational, and human context.
A tour section is designed to introduce and guide readers to key locations of war and memory and offer an explanation of the fluid memory that has evolved over the last two hundred years. The War of 1812 has been forgotten, reimagined, and invented anew many times, and the itineraries of the guide illustrate that ever-changing process of commemoration.
Terry Copp is Professor Emeritus of History at Wilfrid Laurier University and Director of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies. Copp is an influential advocate for military history in both military and civilian post-secondary education. Copps interest in the battlefields of Europe led to the creation of memorials and study tours for teacher and students, and the publication of invaluable battlefield guides to Canadian participation in both world wars. He is also the founder of Canadian Military History, Canadas leading journal of military history. Matt Symes is the Publications Manager for LCMSDS, the editor of canadianmilitaryhistory.ca and a PhD Candidate (ABD) at Wilfrid Laurier University. 1812: A Guide to the War and its Legacy is the fifth battlefield guide that Symes has worked on, including Canadian Battlefields 1915-1918: A Visitors Guide and three battlefield guides on the Italian Campaign during the Second World War. Symes was also the co-editor (with Geoffrey Hayes and Mike Bechthold) of Canada and the Second World War: Essays in honour of Terry Copp. Caitlin McWilliams is an MA (History) graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Research Associate at LCMSDS. Drawing on her educational and battlefield touring experience as well as her photography talent, McWilliams scouted, wrote, edited and/or added photographs to parts of every tour section in the guide. Nick Lachance is a student at Wilfrid Laurier University and a Research Assistant at LCMSDS. Many of his photos appear in this guide. Lachances primary responsibility was to use modern satellite images from Google Earth and rework them into the 59 historical and tour maps inside the guide. Geoff Keelan is a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) at the University of Waterloo and a Research Associate at LCMSDS. As a veteran of many European battlefield tours, he and Nick Lachance travelled to many of the locations in the tour section. He used that experience to write several of the tour sections. Jeffrey W. Mott is an MA (History) graduate from the University of New Brunswick. He has worked extensively on the War of 1812 for the Gregg Centre at UNB and for the St. John River Society. Mott was responsible for adding the historical context of the war in what is now New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, in addition to writing the touring sections for the two provinces.
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