A Brief Overview of the War of 1812
The War of 1812 was one of the most important historical events along the Niagara Frontier. For the people living in Upper Canada at the time, the war helped to create a uniquely Canadian identity. For Americans, it helped to prove the country was an international power. The war was fought as far south as New Orleans and as far north as Toronto and Lake Champlain, but nowhere was the fighting more intense than in the Niagara region.
During the almost three years of war, the fighting never left the Niagara Frontier. The Niagara River had formed a natural political border between the United States and British controlled Canada since the end of the Revolutionary War. Land communication was difficult in the 1800s and both sides understood water routes were the superhighways that allowed trade and troops to flow into the continent. Control of the Great Lakes and the rivers along the Canada and U.S. border was crucial for the transport of supplies, men and information.
In addition, both sides knew a determined enemy could cross the Niagara River and invade the vulnerable interior of New York or Upper Canada, the seat of British political power in Ontario. The Niagara River was protected on both sides of the border by a string of forts that saw heavy fighting throughout the war. Fighting in the region began in earnest with the Battle of Queenston Heights in October 1812 and continued until the end of the war.
The War of 1812 was the first time the United States of America had formally declared war on another nation. The war began officially on June 18, 1812 and lasted for over two years, ending with the United States ratifying the Treaty of Ghent in February of 1815. The war is considered to have ended as a stalemate but it did much to solidify both American and Canadian senses of identity.
For more information about the War of 1812, visit: http://www.pbs.org/wned/war-of-1812/home/