Speaking Notes for the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages on the occasion of the Announcement of Plans to Commemorate the 200th Anniversary of War of 1812

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Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
October 11, 2011

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My colleagues and I are pleased to be here today at this fantastic historic site.

In 2011, Canada marked some important milestones:

  • Our combat mission in Afghanistan came to an end;
  • ParksCanada - the world's first national park service - celebrated its 100thanniversary;
  • And their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made their first visit to Canada.

In the next few years, we will celebrate many other significant milestones, culminating with the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

Next year will mark:

  • the 200thanniversary of the Selkirk settlement;
  • the 60th anniversary of her Majesty's ascension to the Throne;
  • and the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup.

In the years ahead we will also celebrate:

  • the 100thanniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge;
  • the 100thanniversary of the NHL;
  • the 75thanniversary of the Battle of Dieppe; and
  • the 25thanniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

All of these events define our country's great history and who we are as Canadians.

But, of course, we are here at Fort George today to talk about the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

It was a war that established the cornerstones of our political institutions and laid the foundation for Confederation. A war that, in so many ways, made Canada the country it is today - a constitutional monarchy, an independent and bilingual country with the longest undefended border in the world.

Like the other anniversaries, the War of 1812 was a defining event in our country's history.

Had the War ended differently, had the American invasion not been repelled, Canada as we know it would not exist. Quebec's French-speaking identity would not exist. The history of Canada's Aboriginal peoples would have been profoundly altered.

The War was instrumental in the creation of Canada's military. Many Canadian reserve regiments can trace their origins to this period in our history.

It took the combined efforts of English and French-speaking militias as well as Aboriginal Canadians, together with British military forces, to succeed in defeating the American invasion.

Among those who demonstrated bravery and love for our country during the War are Canadian heroes such as Sir Isaac Brock, Charles-Michael de Salaberry, Tecumseh, and - yes - Laura Secord. 

The signing of the Treaty of Ghent, and other treaties that ensued, confirmed the border between Canada and the United States, which is now the world's longest, undefended border and an example of nations coexisting peacefully side by side.

Over the next four years, our Government will invest significant funds to increase Canadians' awareness of this defining moment in our history. This will include: 

  • a pan-Canadian educational campaign, including a national documentary, travelling museum exhibits, and naming October an official month of commemoration;
  • support for up to 100 local events, festivals, and re-enactments across Canada;
  • refurbishments and improvements to approximately 40 national historic sites - like Fort George - that are relevant to the War;
  • a permanent 1812 monument in Ottawa to honour the Canadian heroes I just mentioned; and
  • recognition of our current Canadian Forces regiments in 1812 ceremonies.

As part of our Economic Action Plan, investments have already been made to fund improvements to a number of 1812 battle sites.

In the months ahead, I invite all Canadians to visit a national historic site. Take part in a local activity, celebration or re-enactment. Visit your local museum. Talk to your friends and family. Learn about our country's rich history.

We look forward to commemorating this event with all Canadians.