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A Guide to the War and its Legacy


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.


``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, Reference Reviews, Volume 28, number 1, 2014

``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), May 18, 2013

``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, July 2014