The late 18th and early 19th century was an era of conflict. The war between Great Britain and France raged between 1793 and 1815 with few interruptions. As a part of the British Empire, Upper Canada was unable to escape this broader conflict and when, on June 18, 1812, the United States declared war on Britain, Canada was brought to the front line of what had become a world war.
Just like armed conflict in any part of the world, the War of 1812 had a significant effect on the local population. This exhibit focuses on the impact of the War on those living in Upper Canada at the time of the conflict and on later generations who sought ways to remember it. It documents how the war was fought both within the province and in locations beyond its borders, and it examines the War's later image in the popular imagination.
The exhibit also provides an opportunity for the Archives of Ontario to shed light on invaluable documents from its rich collections, many of which have never been published and are made widely available to the public for the first time.
Correspondence and diaries contemporary to the war tell the story in the words of those who lived through it. A broad variety of documentary art, illustrations drawn from the work of artists and later photographers has been selected to help bring these contemporary words to life, and sound bites recreate a flavour of the times.
The exhibit provides some of the highlights of the collection of the Archives of Ontario relating to the War of 1812. Please see the sources section for information on published material relating to the War of 1812 which covers many of the topics in greater detail.