A very happy 4th of July to all you American’s out there! I hope you all enjoy your Independence Day! I’m also extremely jealous that many of you have both today and tomorrow off, but I won’t complain (much!) as I got Monday off. You can stop reading this post here unless you want to learn about some Canadian history.
I’m an avid Canadian coin collector. I figure it’s the one collection that you’ll never lose money on as the coins will always be worth at least its face value. I’ve got coins dating back to the 1900’s (even a few older than that) and I absolutely love when the Royal Canadian Mint releases new specialized coins. Specifically quarters.
Last night I finally ordered the last of the War of 1812 coin series the Laura Secord quarter (who is also now the symbol for a chocolate shop here in Canada!). It was the 5th coin in the series after Sir Isaac Brock, Tecumseh, Lieutenant Colonel Charles-Michel d’Irumberry de Salaberry and the HMS Shannon. I love me some Canadian History and I love the chosen representatives for the quarters. We’ve got a coin to represent English Canadians, a coin for French Canadians, a coin for First Nation Canadians and a coin to represent women. I really don’t think you can get more diversification.
For anyone interested here are the roles these people (and the ship HMS Shannon) played in the War of 1812. Note: All information below is taken from the Canadian Mint’s website.
On June 1, 1813, battle erupted between Britain’s HMS Shannon and the USS Chesapeake offshore from Boston. It was one year into the war; the Royal Navy’s morale was low; Shannon’s provisions were almost exhausted, and she was showing signs of wear. Still, her highly-trained crew quickly destroyed the gun-ports of her heavier-manned opponent. It was an intense 15-minute battle; the bloodiest aboard a frigate during the war that won a critical victory for Britain.
Thanks to Major General Sir Isaac Brock (1769-1812), Canada was able to develop as a transcontinental nation due to his successful defence of Upper Canada in 1812. Brock’s initiative and bravery immediately made him a hero and was one of the most well-known Canadian military figures of the War of 1812. His actions earned him a knighthood in the Order of Bath and many posthumous accolades, including the formal title “The Hero of Upper Canada.”
Charles-Michel d’Irumberry de Salaberry’s group of Colonial regulars, the Voltigeurs Canadiens, was a light infantry unit that would become one of the most successful and well-known units to fight in the War of 1812.
Voltigeurs, forcing the American troops to retreat, despite the fact that they outnumbered the Voltigeurs and their Aboriginal allies by more than two to one.
Despite the legend arising around de Salaberry and the Battle of Châteauguay, including the assertion that 300 allies had forced the retreat of 7,000 Americans, the significance of that battle and de Salaberry’s role in it remain indisputable despite historical exaggeration. The actions and heroism of de Salaberry and the Voltigeurs remain key moments in the War of 1812.
The great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh’s (c.1768-1813) life has fed the imagination of scholars, artists, and poets for 200 years. His death has immortalized him as a legendary Canadian hero, and it is important to remember his objectives: Tecumseh fought heroically out of a desire to build an independent homeland for his people. Tecumseh’s name meant both “shooting star” and “crouching panther” as he was a dynamic leader and warrior.
Long before her name became synonymous with chocolate, Laura Secord (1775-1868) played a critical part in our nation’s success during the War of 1812. Upon hearing American officers discussing their intention to ambush a British outpost and capture its commanding officer, Secord made a 30-kilometre trek by foot to successfully alert 400 First Nations warriors and Lieutenant James FitzGibbon. Upon reaching Beaver Dams, American forces were ambushed themselves by the First Nations warriors and 50 British soldiers, and ultimately forced to surrender.
I for one can’t wait to see what the next series will be to add to my coin collection! For any American’s that sat through this entire post here’s a fun tidbit I found while researching! In 1814 the Battle of Baltimore inspired the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.