When it comes to myth-building about the founding of a nation, it’s hard to compete with the United States. Major historic places in that country are not “historic sites,” as they are in Canada, they’re “historic shrines” – as in holy, or sacred. It gives you an idea of what Canada is up against when it comes time next year to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
Much as that war between British North America and the U.S. may be “sacred” to the latter country, it is just as important to the history of Canada. While Americans have sunk, for example, $15-million (U.S.) into a massive new visitor centre at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, which came under attack during the war and was the “the birthplace” of The Star-Spangled Banner (who knew songs, even national anthems, had birthplaces?), Canada needs to be celebrating its own history.
The news that the Department of National Heritage will invest millions to remind Canadians of their own foundation heroes, such as Laura Secord, Tecumseh, and Sir Isaac Brock, and the victories by their side, such as the burning of the White House and United States Capitol, is welcome, and shows Canada is still not about to surrender any ground to the U.S.