Canada's invasion of the US

I’ve heard several comments about Canada invading the US, but with the exception of some modest gains in the War of 1812 I really have no idea what these people are talking about.

I’ve even heard comments that Canada demolished the US and it’s heavily implied that the US lost the War (and yeah, I know it was more or less a draw). One person even went so far as to say that Canadian forces (not British/Canadian) pushed all the way through the northern states to burn DC and that doesn’t remotely jive with what I’ve learned over the years. I was under the impression that British forces landed in Washington and did the damage. I’m aware that the British/Canadians captured Detroit and some forts on American territory but what’s the big deal about pointing out that Canada invaded the US with only these achievements to show? From what I see the majority of fighting along the Canadian/US border was give and take for both sides.

I am honestly not trying to start some sort of jingoistic shouting match between Canadians and Americans; I’m just trying to figure out why some Canadians point out with such fervor that they invaded the US and if there is some crucial piece of information that I’ve missed. Also some of the more ridiculous comments listed above came from one person and are not typical of what people have said to me on this subject.

Is there something in my history lessons and books that I missed? Could someone shed some light on this subject for me?

I think it is because some Canadians who don’t know any better seem to enjoy showing how tough we were the last time we went to war against the US. One of those cases where a little bit of knowledge seems to be worse than none.

Some Canadians also seem to believe that if we kept the Avro Arrow we would still be flying it and it would still be one of the most kick-ass fighter/interceptors on the world stage.

For the record, after WW2 we had the 4th largest Armed Services in the world. Now I can’t even guess where we rate…

Most of the Canadian participation involved the defense along the Niagara River and several smaller naval actions along the Great Lakes. (Perry’s victory in Lake Erie prevented the British from establishing control of the Lakes, but it was not the only battle that was fought; there were several smaller fights along the Detroit and St. Mary Rivers and in Lake Huron.)

While Canadians were present in the invasion of Michigan, most of the action involved British regulars and their Indian allies. (There is nothing to preclude Canadians from having enlisted in British Regular forces, but there were not really enough people in Canada at that time to provide the sort of large militias or enlistments that the Americans were able to draw together. Most of the U.S. troops were recruited from Virginia and Kentucky (where the war was more popular). In fact, one reason the assaults across the Niagara River failed was that the New York militia was quite prepared to defend against a British invasion, but had no real stomach for invading Canada.)

As you note, your “source” has his information regarding the burning of Washington completely wrong. (Hey, if he wants to ascribe the massacre of the wounded prisoners at River Raisin to the Canadians, I’ll let him–although I would not place that charge against any other Canadian.)

As to the reason that anyone claims glory that is not historically valid, that is simply a human trait. Living under the shadow of the U.S. and its cultural assaults on the world will spur some folks to seek any opposing “glory” they can. The U.S. has its share of people taking credit for things they did not do. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

The British did burn parts of Washington (including the White House). But they invaded Maryland by sea to get to Washington. I don’t know if many Canadians were involved.

Maybe they’re talking about these guys. :wink:

Canadian checking in here who’s always been sick of other Canadians bragging about the War of 1812.

  1. Canada wasn’t even a country in 1812 and was a very undeveloped and underpopulated colony.

  2. British regulars, invading from the sea, burned Washington. It should be noted that Upper Canada’s greatest “city,” York/Toronto, was also sacked.

  3. Yes, gains were made in Michigan and northern New York, mostly by British and Indian troops and largely because the U.S. troops were very poorly led early in the war.

As more than a few historians have said, the United States AND Canada won the war, and the Indians lost. The basic American objectives - the end of British influence in the U.S. west, and international (and especially British) respect for their sovereingty, were both accomplished. The basic Canadian aim - survival and the avoidance of American conquest - was also accomplished. But the Indian nations were badly screwed over; American supremacy on the continent basically doomed them to near-extermination.

I love my country and I think it’s the greatest country in the world, but Canadians are in the habit of lying about history with respect to the U.S. to make themselves happy. I don’t know how many Canadians think basketball was invented in Canada - I’ll bet it’s haf the population (Basketball was invented in Springfield, MA by a guy, Dr. James Naismith, who has previously lived in Canada.) We had a commercial a few years back, funded by the government, that basically claimed that Superman was a Canadian invention, which is a blatant lie. I know Canadian high school children who have been taught not only that the U.S. joined WWII after we did, but that

A) They did so because they are immoral/cowardly/both, and
B) The U.S. had basically no impact on either war.

It’s irritating.

Actually, there have been two other wars along the US-Canadian border since then. OK, calling them wars is a misnomer, but to find more info on them, google for “Aroostook War” and “Pig War”. The first was a complete draw with no casualties on either side, the second was won by the US by a score of one pig to none.

Another curious thing is that, for both dustups, General Winfield Scott was dispatched from Washington to reduce tensions between the belligerents.

Probably none. The troops that captured Washington came over from Europe.

Canadians are strange when it comes to trying to find some source of national pride.

I once argued with a guy who truly belived that the Mighty Canadian Army kicked the US Army’s ass all the way down to Washington DC - when they burned - and not only that, but get this:

They also thought the Battle of New Orleans (or was it St. Louis? I get them mixed up - the one that happened after the end of the war) was a land battle - that the Mighty Canadian Army worked it’s way all the way down to the southern states in it’s massive victory.

Apparently, the US, the 6 or 7 states left, made a huge recovery and fought the Canadians back.

I’ve actually met several Canadians who are under the impression that Canada invaded America seriously - like we fought a war of survival against Canada. I don’t get it. What are they teaching kids? Do they need to stretch the truth that much to have some sort of national pride?

Another historical footnote.

Canada was briefly “invaded” by the fledging Indian Stream Republic in the early 1830’s. The republic was established by a community of settlers who were caught in the northern border dispute. The republic’s 40 or so militiamen crossed the border to enforce an arrest warrant against a Canadian official who had attempted to illegally tax its citizens. Some blood was spilled, ubt they got their man. It’s a point of pride among North COuntry old timers. The result was that both Canada and New Hampshire finally took notice and overthrew the tiny government.

two words: Canadian Bacon

It is a great movie with some lovely acting by John Candy and Co.