Canadian Nationalism and the War of 1812

Canadian Nationalism and the War of 1812


Canada has an identity crisis
okay let’s be a little bit more clear white Anglophone Canadians have an
identity crisis this isn’t just me saying that there’s quite a bit of
scholarship on this the reason is Canada doesn’t really have a national concept
as a country it’s actually several nations built upon the genocide of
several more white Anglophone Canadians trace their roots back to refugees from
the American Revolution often what passes for identity is how not American
we can be while acting almost exactly like them so if your origin story is
from a culture which you then through historical circumstance actively reject
you’re left hollow but hey did you know that doesn’t stop Canadian nationalism
from being a thing and not just people and reflective vests who say that we
don’t hate Muslims oppress indigenous people or destroy the fundamental
life-support systems of the planet fast enough but if you have a hollow identity
how do you create nationalism well that part’s easy we just make a really big
deal out of an insignificant war we won okay kind of won all right it was a draw
but that would be transparent and dumb wouldn’t it? learn more about the war of 1812 visit
1812.GC.CA welcome to step back where we use the past to understand today I’m
Tristan Johnson and let’s talk about the war of 1812 who’s ready to talk about a
war that was extremely insignificant but for some reason make a really big deal
out of it Cause we burned down the white house honestly the reasons for the war were numerous neither the
Americans or British played nice to each other after the American Revolution most
of the debate about whose fault it is for starting the conflict comes down to
which factors you think are more important the British had been trying to
stick it to the Americans since the Revolution Britain had acted in ways
which Americans saw as violations of their brand-new sovereignty one example
was the British impressed American sailors this doesn’t mean they wowed them with
the quality of their hardtack and salted pork impressment is a recruitment
technique and by recruitment technique i mean kidnapping sailors to serve in the
Navy Britain expanded its fleet in the war against Napoleon and turned to press
gangs to man those ships but this is just one of many nasty spats on the high
seas the American trade fleet increasing made the British nervous about
competition worse the Americans declared themselves neutral in the war with
Napoleon so yeah British and American ships were clashing
with each other all across the Atlantic the British also made efforts to limit
American expansion one of many reasons why the American Revolution happened in
the first place was anger over Britain restricting their ability to go into
indigenous territory and steal their land after the war the British continued
to arm their native allies in places like Ohio to curb American expansion the
British plan was to make an indigenous state in the area but let’s be honest
they were ready to abandon them pretty soon in the peace deal of the war anyway
this was the last chance for the indigenous people of the region to have
hope of their own homeland and yep all gone most the time Canadians will ignore
all of these and focus on manifest destiny there were a few vocal American
politicians who advocated the British territory
which would become Canada should belong to America they framed it as a second
American Revolution they’d be welcomed as liberators and push the British off
the continent blissfully ignorant that most of the English people living in Canada
were loyalist refugees from the first revolution not to mention many Americans
were grumpy about the idea of absorbing a bunch of french-speaking Catholics because the British were so occupied
with Napoleon the Americans saw this moment as an opportunity to put them on
the back foot before they could rally people over the Atlantic for a sideshow
because yeah the British were a massive Empire they could crush the Americans
and they would with only a small fraction of their forces so the British
and the Americans had themselves a little war it was super cool with like
cannons and muskets and stuff there was a Laura Secord who I think smuggled
chocolate into Quebec and a war hero named Tecumseh who led a scrappy army of
indigenous soldiers against the Americans who tragically died in battle
you guys know the deal at this point but if you’re new to step back you’ll know
that I’m not really a arrows and maps type of historian you can go and watch
kings and Generals or something else for that the end of the war was a draw no
territory changed hands but the Americans did get a promise that we
would no longer harass them the British razed Washington DC including yes
burning down the White House cause we burned down the whitehouse and torching part of Congress Canadians love
to rub this one in Americans faces I say as a Canadian we tend to ignore we also
burn tons of Thomas Jefferson’s personal book collection which was a massive loss
for historians also some people think it could have been worse but and I can’t
believe this is a thing a tornado hit DC and wrecked a bunch of the city forcing
the British to leave now what Americans remember of this war is a major British
defeat called the Battle of New Orleans which by the way it was not that
important of a battle in the scope of the war it occurred after a truce was
already signed but the British fleet didn’t get the order since they were
at sea what it did do is make a war hero out of Andrew Jackson
he’d leverage this to become president and more or less found the Democratic
Party so there’s that okay in the United States there’s usually not a lot of
emphasis in most curriculums about the war of 1812 I mean it does depend on
which state you live in I live in Kansas and so we don’t focus much on it usually
when we do focus on it it’s the the Battle of New Orleans because of course
you know Andrew Jackson and the ragtag bunch that is all heroic as huge
underdogs against the big bad British but yeah so it’s not really given much
attention down here the United States and as a matter of fact most Americans
probably don’t know anything about the war of 1812 other than perhaps the year
it started and what’s crazy is that the star-spangled banner’ which of course
every patriotic American knows all the words to a lot of Americans don’t
realize that the words for that song came from Francis Scott Key during the
war of 1812 so yeah if you want to learn more about
American history and I guess less about the war of 1812 check out my channel but
honestly the war isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scope of things
Americans barely teach it and the British treat it like it’s a small
sideshow of the Napoleonic war but not Canada we stood side-by-side and won the fight for Canada Canada
makes a huge deal about this two-year war we have reenactments tourist
attractions and names on high schools the absurdity hit fever pitch when the
Bicentennial went down back in 2012 it went down with maybe Canada’s most
right-wing Prime Minister Stephen Harper so this tiny war in which no territory
changed hands and neither belligerent really teaches turned into this 200
years ago the United States invaded our territory but we defended our land oh yes the
Harper government tried to reinterpret Canadian identity behind
nineteenth-century nostalgia British loyalism and of course no small part
military jingoism which makes perfect sense in a country that is well known
for its peacekeeping efforts and in which more than one in five of its
citizens are foreign-born way to go champ also it was an attempt to build a
universal identity around a country where every province hates every other
province a unified nationalism around a war which occurred primarily in Ontario
and Quebec two provinces the other eight are huge fans of and don’t worry even
Ontario and Quebec enjoy hating each other
heck I even pitched to mr. Beat you can watch it on his channel right now go and
just take in the blood feud going on in the comments I warned you mr. Beat I warned
you but you see building a nationalism around something so silly shows just how
ridiculous but also dangerous it is it attempts to construct a narrative but
that narrative is only in place so that a very privileged group can create an
exclusionary militarist identity and then also push a very right-wing agenda
today it’s imbibing that excellent flavour of white nationalism all the kids in
America are talking about and with as of this recording three new far-right
provincial governments and a really really dumb election this fall things
are looking grim nationalism is a consuming ideology which uses oppression
and even genocide to make an exclusionary identity that leaves a lot
of people out it suppresses individuality Canada often sold itself
on its multiculturalism and it seems people are ditching that Nationalism is
festering in Canada and around the world and it has already led to some pretty
scary stuff it was during evening prayers on Sunday
the witnesses say gunmen opened fire on 40 worshippers inside the past weekend I
went to Carrefour Laval and a woman working here there refused to serve a
she said I’m not gonna serve you if you are veiled according to Statistics Canada hate crimes nearly doubled in the last
few months Canada’s strength when it lives up to
its own ideals is that this is a country where you’re able to be free to express
yourself and be yourself no matter what it is it could be whether you have a
different religion a different ethnicity a different culture or you love somebody
different or you come from a different perspective you’re welcome here and the
bonds that hold us together are what make us strong we could create an
identity around that in the face of an increasingly dark world wouldn’t it be
kind of nice or you know we could obsess over some war I guess hey if you want to
help me make these videos better and help with the rent and food and stuff
patreon.com/stepbackhistory I am pushing towards being able to do this
full-time which means more and better videos for you so that’s cool
also check out that mr. beat’s video I mentioned I helped suggest a bunch of
pointless rivalries between Toronto and Montreal two cities love but for many
often hockey-related reasons hate each other thank you all I’ll see you next
time Cause we burned down the whitehouse

100 Comments on "Canadian Nationalism and the War of 1812"


  1. Canada's got some great stories. Watch a few of them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3zcWDOPoxk&list=PLnpoOo7lhNnF4pIzuX_GqaBTMYhb3kDK_

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  2. also i wrote a musical about the war of 1812 instead of a thesis paper for my college level American history class

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  3. First time here! Very funny beginning and I did not know much about this war – would love to connect and hear more about your process for making your videos!

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  4. I was visiting my godfather in Toronto when the bicentenial was happening and seeing nationalism in another country is part of why I became an anarchist. It becomes so much harder to be jingoistic when you know a different but equally passionate jingoism is going on a few counties away.

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  5. The War of 1812 has a lot of history in Nova Scotia with the capture of the USS Chesapeake and the POW camp at Dead Mans Island. All of the battles in NS were naval. It's a neat part of the history but I never got why some people idolize the war.

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  6. Have you read Becoming Native in a Foreign Land by Gillian Poulter? Because your analysis of white Anglo-Canadian nationalism here is seriously reminiscent of her text. It's a really good read on how Anglo-Canadian identity has no sense of self, but is in constant search of "Others" (French, Metis, First Nations, immigrants, and Americans) to define itself in contrast to. It also addresses how the construction of the Other that Anglo-Canadians simultaneously appropriate from and vilify is rarely rooted in fact so much as it is popular imagination. Of course many other sources discuss these matters as well, but this text is a particular favourite of mine.

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  7. manufacturing an identity of nationalism around a narrative that has anglo Canadian and first nation Canadians wipe the floor the Americans and burn down the white house is not the worst thing…sure it's silly, but Is as harmful as most other nations national natives?

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  8. You can airbrush nationalism as a bad thing, but the real question would be why? Why the nationalists resurgence ? Could the reason be this pseudo religion called multiculturalism ?
    Don't get me wrong, I'm proud to be part of a society that accepts and integrate new comers. But the very idea that all other countries and cultures are of good and compatible with ours is, comparable to blind faith. The real question would be why a majority of voters are sufficiently fearful of this new political religion to vote for a nationalist government? Could it be they fear for their (our) nation? I believe so. I also believe that we will remain blinded to this state of affairs until it's to late.

    The more a nation paints nationalism as an evil thing the more it will seed the resurgence of nationalism and the more it exposes itself to an incompatible culture invading it's borders.

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  9. I know nobody cares about it but as an american i think the war of 1812 is an interesting subject and one that i teach my students about when i have time to

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  10. This educational video you showed parts of. It's so over the top that i'm not sure if i should cringe or if this is real good satire.

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  11. I read a book on The War of 1812 from the Canadian perspective that I found in a used bookstore years ago, and the one thing I got from it was that the actual Canadian militia played a pretty pathetic role during the conflict. They usually just went back to their farms when they got bored or… were actually about to get into a fight. The aboriginals involved played a much larger role than any of the actual Canadians (insomuch as a Canadian identity existed back then). Too bad the British screwed them over in the end, Lawrence of Arabia style.

    In fact one of my favorite parts of that book was the chapter covering the "battle" of Fort Detroit, when the British basically used the Americans' racist attitudes towards natives to win the battle without firing a shot. Showing that racism can certainly be a weakness even in war, if anything I think that is probably the most important thing Canadians should remember about the war.

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  12. You may have a silly burgeoning nationalism, but I still want to defect. I'll tell everyone you burned down the white House. Please take me.

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  13. Why not just be prideful of maple syrup? The real stuff, not Mrs. Buttersworth and other artificial stuff. Boiled down sugar maple tree sap is the good stuff, Canada even has it's leaf on it's flag, and who doesn't like pancakes with maple syrup?

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  14. I'm American, from Ohio.
    All I remember learning about the War of 1812 is that something happened in Lake Erie and people at Put-in-Bay have a flag that says don't give up the ship.
    Also, Perry has a monument and there's 3 flags all at the same height there.
    Most of that was from a field trip to Put-in-Bay in like 7th grade and the lake is about an 8 min drive away.

    I did know about the star-spangled banner coming from that war, but I'm not sure if that was something I learned in class.

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  15. I grew up in plattsburgh, which was the site of what was arguably the most important battle of the war, and it is completely forgotten outside of the local area and perhaps naval colleges.

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  16. I grew up on the corner of De Salaberry Street! Go battle of the Châteauguay! 🍁⚜️😜
    Harper tried to import antagonistic nationalism. Luckily that just doesn’t grow here. We all remember and agree he made of fool of himself. But wait, there’s more! Scheer is going to be worse! The fall election is going to be dumb, nasty and scary.
    A nation is more than having a seat at the UN, more than, as Jean Chrétien said, “a flag on the hood” (of the limo).
    Canada has had a sense of being a special place since Champlain built his habitation in Quebec City in 1608.
    That’s what binds us. Pride, not hubris. Learn from the past, hope for the future. A welcoming home.
    A country called “Village.”

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  17. I enjoyed your video. The War of 1812 is important in the history of Detroit, Michigan. 1812 is when the city became American.

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  18. The end of this video resonated with me. Nationalism helped Cyprus be free from British rule, but after that, it just served local elites and other countries sow hatred. We like to just blame the British for divide and rule, but there is a lot of fault on our local political communities.

    All in all, this video was good! The jokes were pretty cool, and it tied around the various topics! Nice job!

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  19. Amazing video, interestingly this reminds me alot of what is going on in India right now with the BJP and Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism) India before the Brits was never united under one banner like say China under the Han but Hinduism was 1 unifying force across the subcontinent so now being Hindu is being touted as being Indian, Muslim Indians in India are having their heritage and culture erased by the government, also do Tamil Nadu

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  20. I remember when I first enlisted in the CF we had to wear these stupid fucking 1812 pins on our N1s for like 3 years in commemoration of that stupid war.

    "Ya, that time we kicked the US's ass by crossing a border and burning a building down!"

    So fucking dumb but people in my unit ate it up. Absolute chuddery.

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  21. Nah you guys won. We didn't burn down parliament. We couldmt even get into Britain's insignificant ice colony

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  22. My hometown was the site of one of the battles of the War, and every year they'd put on a reenactment. It was usually a fairly modest affair, with a couple dozen reenactors and a small number of merchants. But during the three years of the bicentennial they got all that Harper funding and it ballooned into a massive pageant with a couple hundred reenactors.

    I always had an interest in it as a history geek, but as a 2nd generation Italian-Canadian, let's just say I'm very dubious about praising British imperialism or French-Canadian _patriotisme_. I used to tell an American coworker "we had to fight the War of 1812 to stop those dirty Yankees from giving us representational government and liberty from the British crown! And then afterwards we entrenched a couple of oligarchies that were so tyrannical and corrupt, a generation later people tried to violently overthrow them!"

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  23. I'm from Manitoba and it's a shame most people know more about the war of 1812 which had literally nothing do with Manitoba at all, than they do about Louis Riel and the Red River Rebellion which is the reason why this province exists. I am in high school right now and I have spent an entire half semester learning about 1812 and we have not mentioned Louis Riel once. But good video, keep it up.

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  24. Americans in the Northeastern coast teach it as though they won it (my mom was taught that when she lived in Minnesota), which is hilarious, so it's always good to hear more of what actually happened from both countries, and not just an American redaction. So they do teach these things in the US (wrongly), but probably not as much anymore, I'm hoping — esp. because they can't… prove anything happened. It's all silly, I agree.

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  25. I think that all nation-states have the same problem. Or a very similar problem.

    Nation-state is a very weird concept. And nation identity in our continent feel very artifitial (i'm from Chile).

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  26. As a Canadian, I never really thought of the war of 1812 obsession as much more than a semi-tongue in cheek joke. The fact that Americans are stereotypically war obsessed, it's fun to poke fun with this one event.

    I still think there is a point to be made about our week national identity however. Personally I source my national pride from our natural environments, and diverse people groups. Go to newfoundland, then quebec, then ontario, then saskatchewan, then BC, then the northwest territories, and it really feels like they shouldn't be united, but we are. French-English bilingualism also is a huge source of pride for me personally. Also our great international reputation and peace keeping. Maybe those things are a pretty shallow facets on which to base a national identity, but that's how I feel at least.

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  27. Those fearsome invading American soldiers (actually mostly militia) protested at the border and refused to invade. I seem to remember this happened at least in New York, possibly around Michigan too (memory is foggy). (Source: vague memories from writing a paper about the War of 1812 in an American high school).

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  28. The fact you start this video by framing it as 'insignificant' is kinda off putting and completely bs

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  29. Please make another funny video about why all the Canadian Provinces hate each other #Alberta OIL (づ◔ ͜ʖ◔)づ

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  30. 2:13 I love the impressment jokes. 🙂 It seems a little odd though to describe it here as a cause for the War of 1812 following the Revolutionary War, without also mentioning that it was explicitly detailed as one of the causes for the Revolutionary war, outlined in the Declaration of Independence among the various other grievances the American colonies had with King George, the most famous of them (currently) being taxation without representation.

    Impressment leading to the War of 1812 certainly was a bit of a shift in that prior to the Revolutionary war they were ostensibly gang-pressing their own citizens, and afterward were doing it to someone else's citizens, despite the fact that it was essentially "business as usual" where the British Navy was concerned.

    And although not necessarily important in this context, an interesting note that impressment contributed notably to piracy in that era because anyone who was gang-pressed would be pretty excited to be freed from the literal rack they were tied to while at port in order to take part in a more voluntary, usually pretty democratic, pirate crew. Piracy was the lesser evil from the point of view of someone who'd been "pressed into service".

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  31. Just when I want you to do a video about this, you did 😍. I love you thx for living in my mind.

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  32. It's hearing about how even Canada seems to be falling into the ubernationalist crap that makes me wonder if there is any sort of future to look forward too. It's just utterly depressing.

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  33. Hey, not all Canadian provinces hate all other Canadian provinces. I'm a Nova Scotia and I don't hate New Brunswick — though they really should learn to drive 😉

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  34. Love the new editing techniques and quick wit and humor. You’re the man! Cheers from the US.

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  35. Also to say that Canada burned down the White House is kind of like saying the US liberated the Netherlands in World War II–from my understanding most Canadian forces were fighting in, you know, Canada and so couldn't get to the US to burn down anything

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  36. It's funny how Canada sees itself as this open society for immigrants but ive been trying to migrate there to live with my wife and it's seems it's going to be a nightmare.

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  37. We didn’t even learn about New Orleans, just that the First Lady rescued George Washington’s portrait.

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  38. Still can't even that the Harper government spent time and resources on propagandizing the War of 1812 during its 100th anniversary while largely ignoring the Charter's 30th.

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  39. Your claim that Legault is "far right" is nothing short of laughable. The CAQ is to the left of the Quebec liberals. It's funny that you would mention the feuds between the provinces then repeat one of the lies being spread by the people who hate Quebec, specifically francophones. The rest of the video is fairly spot on however, so good work nonetheless.

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  40. States have rivalries and it played out in sports. Not understanding why you put so much emphasis on different provinces hating each other? Maybe they need sports to be an outlet.

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  41. I tend to view it as a rare moment of cooperation and relative unity between the 3 main culture groups of Canada. Also a tragic turning point since if Brock and Tecumseh had lived then the Shawnee might have gotten their state. It really was the first sign of a unified Canada even if it’s changed a lot since and I think there’s a middle ground between being proud that our forebearers(not necessarily direct ancestors btw) asserted their choice of allegiance against a rising and aggressive neighbour, and being some local flavour of Trumpist. Like, I like this channel because it has a very humanist and empathetic lense but please don’t drop the nuance. I was a War of 1812 reenactor during most of the bi-centennial and for us it was about history(good, bad and mundane), honouring the dead and having some fun and blasting some powder, not shooting up a fucking mosque Christ’s sake.

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  42. I just think it’s funny that a country with 300 million lost to a country with 20 million

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  43. I hope you got that Canadian Flag free from your local Liberal MP. (A legacy from Sheila Copps) The Conservative and NDP MPs don't seem to provide free flags.

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  44. From a Montrealer to both you history geeks, I’m in. Love your videos, I’m subscribed to both now.

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  45. Yeah they do have an issue. Because funny enough, most stuff that Canada is known for being Canadian comes from Quebec, biggest exemple: maple syrup and poutine.

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  46. please do a video on KGB spying methods and KGB stuff. Why was it such a serious threat to USA? How did tensions between USA and USSR start?

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  47. calling the war of 1812 "insignificant" is kind of a stretch it shaped the borders of north america we know today & if it turned out differently there may even be a whole different country between the two

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  48. Decent video as far as the history goes, but stop throwing your own political influence in…. cuz… it's simply wrong. You got all the points of the yellow vest protestors wrong. it had nothing to do with race, etc. Stephen Harper was no way NEAR the most far right PM we've had, and the 3 new premieres are not even close to "Far right". If they were in the U.S. their policies would align with the Democratic party. Talking about how the Harper government thought those videos would unite Canada was funny, because you were right. But do more research into the political stuff if you're gonna mention that, because otherwise it brings into to question the validity of the rest of the video.

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  49. Typical Canadian downplaying their history. Be proud..it's kinda like your kid winning an award in grade school, and although your friends really don't care to hear about it years later, I'm sure your adult child would be glad you remember it in glory!

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  50. Barely mentionned in Qc… looks more like british people telling themselfs a story to feel good about having no independence war and somehow feeling diffrent from british people while being british 🤔

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  51. HA! I almost went to Brock highschool! I lived on the other side of the highway dividing the 2 counties (thus which school I went to), literally, our backyard was on the highway.
    Never knew it was named after some 1812-14 shenanigans.

    Although fun (morbid) facts: My best friend (who went to my school as his dad taught at Brock) was friends with the son of Ken Murray, Paul Bernardo's lawyer, and watched movies in the basement back in the day, fortunately never taking out one of Bernardos' rape-torture-murder videos Murray hid from the cops…..
    In summer of last year I retained Murray for my defense (stupid kid shit, nothing serious or harmful), as he was cheap as everyone hates him. But hey, you dont want a criminal Lawyer, you want a Criminal lawyer!
    Although, the highschool we went to was one of 2 in the town, the other one, had Luka Magnotta there (same age as us)….
    Kinda strange, but, so is life :S

    Cheers

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  52. The War of 1812 solidified American nationalism. Afterwords the idea of Americans rejoining the British Empire was a no longer debated in the USA

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  53. This is what I know about the war 1812 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuEWXvhLeRA. "…Wudn't as many as there was a while ago."

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  54. I grew up in Chalmette, Louisiana where the battle of New Orleans took place. They are obsessed with the battle but talk nothing about the war. I went to Andrew Jackson high school even. I learned to drive on the battlefield. And even I didn't know that we started the war

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  55. In the Chicago school I went to we were taught that the British burned the white house and that Canada was pretty much insignificant in the war. And the Battle of New Orleans was the turning point. "The British never messed with America again"

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  56. The nationalist movement in Canada supports libertarian freedoms and economic responsibility.

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  57. Even in my AP US History class, we really only talked about the Battle of New Orleans and that the war of 1812 really made people have Madison

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  58. Correction – the US got Maine. Maybe a win, maybe not. That's how they ended up with the Bush family.

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