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A Guide to the War and its Legacy

Terry Copp, Matt Symes, Caitlin McWilliams, Nick Lachance, Geoff Keelan, and Jeffrey Mott

Paper 264 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-92680-413-2

Release Date: March 2013

Online discount: 25%

$34.99  $26.24


For Canadians, the War of 1812 has held various meanings at different times. In the immediate aftermath, alongside the “Loyalist” narrative of fleeing from the defeat of the British at the hands of American rebels, the war was regarded as redemptive for those still loyal to British North America. From the American perspective, it is merely one in a host of small-scale wars in North America, and the events of 1812–1815 are mostly forgotten in the collective memory of the United States.

The authors of 1812: A Guide to the War and Its Legacy believe that the War of 1812 was an important event in North American history with lasting consequences for Canadians, Americans, and First Nations. This guidebook, published by the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, uses modern satellite images, archival records, paintings, and contemporary photographs to help readers understand what happened during the war and why it happened that way.

The book includes a historical section that seeks to place events in their strategic, operational, and human context. A tour section is designed to introduce and guide readers to key locations of war and memory and offer an explanation of the fluid memory that has evolved over the last two hundred years. The War of 1812 has been forgotten, reimagined, and invented anew many times, and the itineraries of the guide illustrate that ever-changing process of commemoration.

Terry Copp is Professor Emeritus of History at Wilfrid Laurier University and Director of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies. Copp is an influential advocate for military history in both military and civilian post-secondary education. Copp’s interest in the battlefields of Europe led to the creation of memorials and study tours for teacher and students, and the publication of invaluable battlefield guides to Canadian participation in both world wars. He is also the founder of Canadian Military History, Canada’s leading journal of military history.

Matt Symes has worked and taught extensively on the history of war and memory and is co-author of five battlefield guidebooks, including Canadian Battlefields 1915–1918: A Visitor’s Guide. Symes was co-editor (with Geoffrey Hayes and Mike Bechthold) of Canada and the Second World War: Essays in Honour of Terry Copp.

Caitlin McWilliams is an MA (History) graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Research Associate at LCMSDS. Drawing on her educational and battlefield touring experience as well as her photography talent, McWilliams scouted, wrote, edited and/or added photographs to parts of every tour section in the guide.

Nick Lachance is a student at Wilfrid Laurier University and a Research Assistant at LCMSDS. Many of his photos appear in this guide. Lachance’s primary responsibility was to use modern satellite images from Google Earth and rework them into the 59 historical and tour maps inside the guide.

Geoff Keelan is a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) at the University of Waterloo and a Research Associate at LCMSDS. As a veteran of many European battlefield tours, he and Nick Lachance travelled to many of the locations in the tour section. He used that experience to write several of the tour sections.

Jeffrey W. Mott is an MA (History) graduate from the University of New Brunswick. He has worked extensively on the War of 1812 for the Gregg Centre at UNB and for the St. John River Society. Mott was responsible for adding the historical context of the war in what is now New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, in addition to writing the touring sections for the two provinces.


“The Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies has essentially produced a single-source staff ride book for much of the War of 1812. Anyone interested in visiting the sites of conflict within a day’s drive of the Canadian-U.S. border should begin planning their trip with this book at hand. The first half of the book is an overview of the war.... It is straightforward and succinct, making it accessible to lay readers. While professional historians are unlikely to find many surprises in the prose, every page is beautifully complemented by full-colour illustrations, enhancing the experience for the general public. The photos are well-chosen, and the descriptions of the events are well written.... The second half of the book is essentially a tour guide to the remaining war sites and commemmorations along the border area.... This work is a valuable addition to the shelf of anyone interested not just in the War of 1812, but also in the ways it is commemmorated and remembered on both sides of the border.”

— Paul Springer, H-War

“The Copp/Mott history is as succinct a piece on the War of 1812–1814 as anyone could want—not a ‘Cole’s notes’ version, but a detailed and observant telling of the highs and lows of the military and political manoeuvres.... The tour portion of the book comes with Google maps of the present-day locations and road directions, plus such helpful information as the beer selection offered at a potential lunch-stop in Sandwich, Ont. (30 types) and the tip that one can blissfully ignore the ‘No trespassing’ signs at Boblo Island on the Detroit River.... 1812: A Guide to the War and its Legacy is worthy of a place in any Canadian’s bookcase, and likely somewhere handy in the car as well.”

— Bill Bean, The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo)

“An interesting book dealing with a seldom remembered chapter of the history of Canada and the USA.... A worthy addition to libraries in the area along the Canadian-US border from the Maritimes to Michigan and Ohio.”

— Douglas K. Lehman, Wittenberg University, Reference Reviews


Related interest

Battlefield guides

Canadian history


Military history

By the same author

Canada and the Second World War: Essays in Honour of Terry Copp, Geoffrey Hayes, Mike Bechthold, and Matt Symes, editors

The Canadian Battlefields in Normandy: A Visitor’s Guide, 3rd Edition, Terry Copp and Michael Bechthold

The Canadian Battlefields in Northern France: Dieppe and the Channel Ports, Terry Copp and Mike Bechthold

A Nation at War, 1939–1945: Essays from Legion Magazine, Terry Copp

Canadian Battlefields of the First World War: A Visitor’s Guide, Terry Copp, Mark Humphries, Nick Lachance, Caitlin McWilliams, and Matt Symes

The Canadian Battlefields in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany: A Visitor’s Guide, Terry Copp and Mike Bechthold

The Great War: From Memory to History, Kellen Kurschinski, Steve Marti, Alicia Robinet, Matt Symes, and Jonathan F. Vance, editors

The Canadian Battlefields in Italy: Ortona and the Liri Valley, Eric McGeer and Matt Symes

I Luoghi Della Battaglia: Ortona, Eric McGeer, Matt Symes, and Angela Arnone

The Canadian Battlefields in Italy: The Gothic Line and the Battle of the Rivers, Eric McGeer and Matt Symes