The United States Invaded Canada…and Lost

My heart aches for Canada. All it wants to do is play hockey and talk about The Tragically Hip, and all we want to do it sh*t on it.

You may or may not have heard of the War of 1812, but it’s quite a significant part of our country’s history. Sometimes called the Second War of Independence, it’s when Americans managed to rebuff the advances of the British, who, at the time, were the mightiest naval power in the world. It inspired a sense of nationalism in Americans, as it was the first time we fought as a unified country. The White House burned down in the process, but you win some and you lose some. I heard the decoration was atrocious anyway.

Canada remembers it differently. While most Americans have no clue what happened–or why it happened–Canadians do (I have a friend from Quebec. Believe me, they haven’t forgotten). Thinking that the British would be too distracted with Napoleon’s shenanigans in Europe, America decided to take the Canadian territories.

This wasn’t the first time that the US had pulled this. In 1775, armed forces under the command of Colonel Benedict Arnold and General Richard Montgomery tried to capture Quebec and win sympathy for the revolution from its colonists. They failed to do either, and the Battle of Quebec is considered the colonies’ first major loss in the Revolutionary War. Whoops.

Good plan. Better than your last one.

When I say “take the Canadian territories,” I literally mean they thought they could just walk across the border and take them. The US was sure that it was going to be so easy that it wouldn’t even be a fight. On top of that, they were convinced that Canadians would want to be annexed anyway. Because who doesn’t want to be American, right indigenous peoples?

Right.

Turns out, they had severely misjudged the situation. First, the army was just a mess: even though America had a much larger population than Canada, the militia was surprisingly weak. Not enough men joined, and those who did were poorly trained. Oh, and they refused to cross the American border into Canada.

Second, the British (and the French and Native Americans) were much better prepared to repel an invasion than expected. After the Napoleonic wars ended, they had even more resources to beat down the US. After two years of battle, it became obvious that America was fighting a losing battle on the Northern front. They even lost Detroit at one point.

Also worth noting is the fact that Canadians wanted to keep their own land, thank you very much.

So, long story short, the Americans had their booties handed to them after several fruitless battles in and along the border of Canada, and now the attempted invasion is known as the “War of American Aggression” by our neighbors to the North.

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