It’s Citizenship Week!

People all across the provinces are celebrating their citizenship in one of the best countries in the world this week. The Canadian Government is also encouraging all sorts of events. Citizenship ceremonies have been organized, educational programs have been started up to inform the public about Canada’s history, and Canadians of all walks of life are finding time to take a moment and reflect upon their sovereign citizenship. If you aren’t a citizen yet you may want to consider applying if you meet all of the criteria.

Citizens have a particularly good reason to celebrate this year since it is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. While war is more often than not a pretty terrible thing, the War of 1812 had a very interesting effect upon Canada.

The United States, newly independent from Great Britain, was feeling pressure from its former homeland. Britain was routinely blocking American expansion from all directions and routinely drafting merchant seamen to fight in the Napoleonic wars. The United States considered this a grievous example of impropriety and decided to invade Canada in retribution. Canadians, still loyal to the British Crown, fought off the attacks from the south.

Britain was somewhat involved in this conflict, but was unable to use its full force at the time due to the warfare in Europe. In Britain the War of 1812 is commented on as a side effect of the Napoleonic Wars. In the United States it is remembered as a second war of independence and the occasion where the Capitol and White House were burned down. In Canada it is remembered as the conflict where Canadians were able to defend their homeland and repel invaders.

The upshot of this war was that Canadian formed a distinct national character and although it chose to remain a colony for many more years, Canada could stand for itself. It also established a tradition of peaceful trade and diplomacy between the three main powers that still endures today.