Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Canada to erect a war memorial for 1812 bicentennial

AP, TORONTO

Canada’s Conservative government announced on Tuesday that it plans a permanent memorial in the nation’s capital to commemorate next year’s bicentennial of the War of 1812, which it calls a defining event in Canada’s history.

Heritage Minister James Moore said on Tuesday that Canada owes its existence as an independent, bilingual country to the defense of its territory against US invasions 200 years ago.

Plans call for a permanent 1812 monument in Ottawa and up to 100 events, festivals and re-enactments, as well as commemorative stamps and coins.

In 1812, British troops and residents of what is now Canada prevented several US attempts to overrun the then-British territory. The Battle of Queenston Heights, the war’s first major battle and a decisive British victory, was fought across the Niagara River from New York.

“We were invaded, we repelled the invasion and we endured,” Moore said.

Moore said there are those who could in a “very cheap and immature way” gloat about a failed US invasion, but he said the commemoration is meant to raise Canadian awareness of a defining and neglected moment.

He said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been personally involved.

“Mature Canadians, I’m sure, recognize that grotesquely taking shots at the United States is not in Canada’s interest and this is not what this project is about,” Moore said.

Harper aims to foster a conservative national identity that celebrates its historical roots. He has focused on shifting Canada’s ideological bearings by stressing such traditional Canadian symbols as the military, its past victories and the monarchy.

Plans call for spending more than US$27 million on the war’s commemoration, much of it on refurbishing 40 historic sites.

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