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Organization > National Defence

Subject > Soldiers, Warriors and Leaders > Population Groups > First Nations

Date > 1800

The Military Art of the American Northwest

Type: Document

War in the Pacific Northwest centred around the canoe, which could be up to 20 metres long. Flotillas of canoes would attack enemy villages, hoping to capture prisoners to keep as slaves. Coastal forts of cedar logs were to be found, used to help control and tax maritime trade.

Site: National Defence

Meeting of General Brock and Grand Chief Tecumseh at Fort Malden on 13 Aug 1812

Type: Image

Captain Glegg, who met Tecumseh at Fort Malden, left this description of the Shawnee chief: ‘Tecumseh was very prepossessing, his figure light and finely proportioned, his age I imagined to be about five-and-thirty, his height five feet nine or ten inches, his complexion light copper, his countenance oval, with bright hazel eyes beaming cheerfulness, energy and decision. Three small crowns or coronets were suspended from the lower cartilage of his aquiline nose, and a large silver medallion of George the Third, which I believe his ancestor received from Lord Dorchester when governor-general of Canada, was attached to a mixed coloured wampum string which hung round his neck. His dress consisted of a plain, neat uniform, a tanned deer-skin jacket with long trousers of the same material, the seams of both being covered with neatly cut fringe, and he had on his feet leather moccasins much ornamented with work made from the dyed quills of the porcupine.’

Site: National Defence

Formidable Fighters

Type: Document

The peoples of the Pacific coast were formidable fighters during the 18th and 19th centuries. Their warriors used bows and javelins, carried clubs and bone-bladed daggers, and could wear wooden armour. They preferred a mass assault, but treachery during 'friendly' meetings were not rare.

Site: National Defence

Map of the battle of Châteauguay, 26 October 1813

Type: Image

The battle of Châteauguay took place along the east and west banks of the Châteauguay river. There was a narrow cleared area on the west bank (towards the top of this map published in 1815), and it was here that the Canadian defenders manned their abbatis (barricades made of felled trees) on 26 October 1813. Most of the fighting took place on the west bank, but an American attempt to outflank the abbatis led to fierce and confused fighting on the east bank as well. The broken terrain helped the defenders by keeping the invaders from realizing that they outnumbered the Canadians ten to one.

Site: National Defence

Laura Secord discovered by British Amerindian allies, 22 June 1813

Type: Image

Laura Secord (1775-1868) walked into a camp of Amerindians towards the end of her famous 30 kilometre trek on 22 June 1813. The group were allies of the British, and they led Secord to a detachment of British troops stationed at the DeCew house, on the Niagara Escarpment near present-day St. Catherines, Ontario. There, she was able to pass on her warning of an impending American attack. This print gives a rather romanticized view of the heroine. At the time of her exploit, Secord was 38, rather older than suggested here. Nevertheless, a contemporary eyewitness account describes her 'slender frame and delicate appearance'.

Site: National Defence

Justice at the Muzzle of a Cannon

Type: Document

During the mid 19th century, outbreaks of piracy by Amerindians were met with strong responses by the Royal Navy. In one such incident in 1864, pirates murdered the crew of a merchant vessel. When the Navy arrived and met with armed resistance, 8 villages were burned.

Site: National Defence

An Outnumbered Militia, Dominated by French Canadians

Type: Document

In 1812, British regulars stationed in North America matched the American regular army in numbers. However, the American state militias were much larger than their British colonial counterparts. Most of the outnumbered British militia were French Canadians.

Site: National Defence

First Nations: True Masters of the Plains

Type: Document

The Plains Amerindians ruled the Prairies during the first half of the 19th century. These nomadic nations, fierce fighters and skilled riders, fought the advance of American settlement. Their relations with the traders of the Hudson's Bay Company were relatively smooth.

Site: National Defence

The Battle of Crysler's Farm

Type: Document

In November of 1813, the American main column advanced eastward down the St. Lawrence River towards Montreal. In a farmer's field near present-day Morrisburg, Ontario, the were met and beaten in a European-style battle by British regulars. The invasions of 1813 were over.

Site: National Defence

Grand Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee, circa 1807

Type: Image

Tecumseh (circa 1768 – 1813) had an impressive bearing and a charismatic personality. Canadian militia officer Thomas Vercheres de Boucherville described the Shawnee chief at a diner in 1813: ‘Tecumseh was seated at my left with his pistols on either side of his plate and his big hunting knife in front of him. He wore a red cloak, trousers of deerskin, and a printed calico shirt, the whole outfit a present of the English. His bearing was irreproachable for a man of the woods as he was, much better than some so-called gentlemen.’ It is uncertain that this widely published 19th century print is an actual likeness of Tecumseh. It is reputedly based on a pencil sketch made from life in 1807 at Vincennes, Indiana by Canadian fur trader Pierre Le Dru.

Site: National Defence