I am back where I began, in Toronto the Good, Tory Toronto, Hog Town, Muddy York, now incredibly in a have-not province where wealth and political power have moved west. An important issue here is how manufacturing is to cope with the value of the dollar which has risen vastly against the US$ because of the demand for natural resources, specially by the Chinese. The Keystone Pipeline from Alberta through to the American south is being resisted by the Obama administration and may yet be one of the decisive matters in the US election.
But what was extraordinary to me has been the absence of any really historical memory of the War of 1812 (which lasted till 1814 and ended with the Battle of New Orleans which was fought in 1815). You would think if there were a Canadian identity, this is what would be identified. Here the British/Canadians (United Empire Loyalists all!!) with our Indian allies pushed the American invaders back across the Niagara. I have been asking my young cousins, products of the Canadian education system, what they know, starting with my Dad’s favourite, when was the War of 1812, which he would match with who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? Being Canadians, they are much more likely to know the second than the first. And of the first, they seemed to know nothing of all, not even who Laura Secord was! Not to know Laura Secord for a Canadian of my vintage is to know none of the fine patriotic detail from our past. She is now a brand of chocolates and ice cream, no more distinguished than Laura Ashley.
Just for the record, one of the little known facts about that distant war was that Washington was burned down by the British in 1814 because the Americans had burned down Fort York in 1813. Only fair, I say. Fort York, however, is an actual dinkum frontier fort that was once on the waterfront before about half a mile of land fill was added to the edge of the city. No one goes there, even though it is an actual frontier fort, rebuilt after 1813, and if anyone cared about their history would be as significant as the citadel in Quebec or the Eureka Stockade.