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About the selection of material for this exhibit

Letter The documentary heritage of the War of 1812 is rich. This is particularly true of the correspondence and reports which form the basis for the information presented in this display. Selection of this material involved the examination of many documents, choosing those which illustrated a particular issue or fact in an interesting way. This was intended, so far as is possible, to present the war and its aftermath as it was seen by the participants.

The selection of visual materials was a more challenging task. During wartime few people had the time or inclination to illustrate what was going on around them. It was necessary to select images created before or after the war to provide an idea of how things might have looked at the time of the conflict. The art work of Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of Upper Canada's first Lieutenant Governor was particularly valuable in this respect. Thomas Burrowes' watercolours of the St. Lawrence and Kingston region were equally important as a visual source. The work of these two artists forms a valuable part of the Archives holdings. Additional watercolours and drawings of Elizabeth Simcoe and Thomas Burrowes can be viewed through the Archives Visual Database.

Other materials were selected to provide an idea of how the war was viewed by later generations, an issue as important in may ways as how it was seen by contemporaries. The portraits of Generals Brock, Drummond and Prevost by Berthon were commissioned by the Government of Ontario to commemorate the history of the province and the British connection. A generation later C. W. Jefferys was creating works of historical imagination which, in their romanticized view of history, helped shape the attitudes of school children through history texts.

The documentation of battlefields and monuments through the photographic record provides interesting information on how these sites looked before the development of the historical parks system and the encroachment of suburban development on rural areas. We are indebted to such early amateur photographers as M. O. Hammond, John Boyd and Marsden Kemp for a wealth of images of this nature.

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Archival records and documentary art sources used in this exhibit

Letter Whether family correspondence, personal diaries, posters, plans, documentary art or government records, the Archives of Ontario holdings are rich of primary sources documenting the effects of the war on the population of Upper Canada. The materials selected for this exhibit and listed here reflect the richness of our collections but is by no means an exhaustive or complete list of the sources relating to the War at the Archives. In addition to the fonds and collections listed here, materials from the Archives of Ontario Library collection and the Archives of Ontario photographic collection have been used in the virtual exhibit. Additional works of art are drawn from the Government of Ontario Art Collection.

Most of the private and official records from the early 19th century featured in this exhibit have been microfilmed for conservation reasons. Researchers are required to use this microfilm to ensure the long term preservation of the originals. Click on the reference code to view a description and for instructions for accessing the records.

Private fonds and collections

Government records

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Selected Books Relating to the War of 1812

Letter This list is intended to provide a general introduction to the war and its many aspects. Your library will hold many other works on the subject.

  • Antal, Sandy. A Wampum Denied: Proctor's War of 1812. Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1997. The war in the Detroit area of Upper Canada.
  • Benn, Carl. The Iroquois in the War of 1812. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998. The role played by the 6 Nations of the Iroquois on both sides during the War of 1812.
  • Gray, William. M. Soldiers of the King: the Upper Canadian Militia, 1812-1815: A reference guide. Erin: Boston Mills, 1995. General information on the role of the militia in the War of 1812.
  • Malcomson, Robert. Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario, 1812-1814. Toronto: Robert Brass Studio, 1998. A detailed account of the ship building war on Lake Ontario.
  • Malcomson, Robert; Malcomson, Thomas. H.M.S. Detroit: The Battle for Lake Erie. A detailed account of the naval race on Lake Erie and the Upper Lakes.
  • Sheppard, George. Plunder, Profit and Paroles: a Social History of the War of 1812 in Upper Canada. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press, 1994. The impact of the war on Upper Canadian Society.
  • Stanley, George F. The War of 1812: Land Operations. Toronto: MacMillan of Canada, 1983. Detailed account of all the campaigns in Canada during the War of 1812.
  • Sugden, John. Tecumseh: A Life. Detroit: Owl Press, 1999. The story of Tecumseh, his half brother the Prophet and the attempts to forge a First Nations resistance to the United States.
  • Turner, Wesley B. British Generals in the War of 1812: high command in the Canadas. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press, 1999. Brock, Drummond, Sheaffe and others mentioned in the display.
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Other Sources

Letter The Ontario Historical Society has published many articles relating to the War of 1812 in its Journal, Ontario History. Much of the index to Ontario History is available on the Society’s website, A full run of Ontario History is available in the Archives of Ontario Library.

The Lundy’s Lane Historical Society has published many items relating to the War of 1812. Most of these are available through the Archives of Ontario Library. Please consult BIBLiON, the on-line catalogue to the library holdings.

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