Q. What unleashed the war?
A. The British impressment of American sailors. The British claimed that men who had immigrated to the U.S. were still British subjects and began to recruit them by force to fight in the Royal Navy.
Q. Did the war have a lasting effect on the relationship between Canada and the U.S.?
A. Not really. A sense of Canadian identity did not develop until WWI. Sir John A. Macdonald died a proud British subject. In his book The Civil War of 1812 (2010), Alan Taylor proposed that Upper Canada was so heavily populated by American settlers that you could hardly describe the war as a conflict between two separate peoples.
Q. What was the effect of the war on Quebec?
A. None. The battlefield was Upper Canada. Communications from Quebec to Upper Canada were almost as slow as they were from Quebec to London.
Q. What about the First Nations?
A. The effect was disastrous. They had been the allies of the British who had used them to terrify and over-awe the invading Americans. They were shunted aside at the peace table. They lost everything: territory, cohesion, recognition.
Q. Did the war have any effect on the society of Upper Canadians?
A. It did. The society lost the vision of a democratic social order. Upper Canada’s elitist governing structure prevailed. Any attempt to upset it became a mark of sedition – “American” – an attempt to reverse the affirmation of the God-given soundness of colonial rule.
Q. Were there no positive effects of the war?
A. There were. If the Americans had won, there would be no Canada.
Sources: University of Toronto Magazine, Autumn 2012, and Dennis Duffy in the Literary Review of Canada, October 2012