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Scouts dressed as Canadian and British soldiers, left, fire back and forth with American soldiers, right, during a re-enactment of the War of 1812 by Scouts Canada and Boy Scouts of America at Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., on Sept. 23, 2012.Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

The federal government has paid nearly $700,000 at an auction in England to acquire a trove of books, maps and manuscripts from the War of 1812.

Sir John Coape Sherbrooke served as the lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia from 1811 to 1816 and then as governor-general of British North America until 1818.

His records from the time have been in his family's hands almost ever since, although Canadian researchers have had access in the past.

The government says the Sherbrooke Collection is a remarkable record of political, economic, and military geography and operations in wartime.

The money to buy it came from Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian Heritage department and a private group known as the Friends of Library and Archives Canada.

The Conservative government spent millions promoting and celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 last year, saying it was a cornerstone moment of Canadian history that has fallen by the wayside in people's minds.

Heritage Minister James Moore called the acquisition of the collection an example of how the government is investing in making history more accessible to Canadians.

The lot, which includes 80 manuscript and printed maps, 37 letter books, original correspondence, one portrait and other e artifacts, had been for sale via the British auction house Bonhams.

The auction catalogue set a price for the collection at between $160,000 to $240,000.