Obvious Canadian Dilemma: Is It OK to Celebrate the War of 1812?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 16 2011 @ 2:19pm

by Alex Massie

Could there be anything more* charmingly Canadian than fretting about whether it's quite the done thing to celebrate the war that ensured the survival of British North America and, consequently, allowed Canada to exist as a place of its own. And yet it seems this is the case! The Globe and Mail brings us a hand-wringing update on Canadian worries about remembering the War of 1812:

It’s a sticky question. Exactly how should Canada commemorate the 200th anniversary of a war in which our predecessors repelled an invasion by the United States – now this country’s closest ally and most valued trading partner?

For crying out loud! This is nuts. Of course you celebrate the war that prevented what's now Canada being governed from Washington. And of course you point out that eliminating Canada was the major American war aim in this War of Southern Aggression and that failing to achieve this meant the Americans lost. And then – but only then – do you say "Few hard feelings" and be glad of the subsequent peaceful friendship between the two countries.

None of this is tricky. It's akin to expecting Scots to feel bad about celebrating the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) that essentially won the Wars of Independence, ensuring that Scotland never quite became an English satrap. This is something Unionist Scots – keen to preserve the United Kingdom – agree, indeed insist, upon. Independence was necessary to establish a fuller, deeper, richer Union.

Similarly the Canadians should enjoy cocking a snook at their larger, elephantine neighbour and then go back to enjoying the fruits of permanent peace and prosperity.

*Yes there could. But this is not the moment to say so. Also: thanks to Eva Holland for the tip.