York Sunbury Historical Society March Program

The York Sunbury Historical Society hosts a lecture on the third Thursday of each month, for most months.  All evening programs take place at Old Government House (51 Woodstock Road, Fredericton).  We can park on site and come in the side entrance and programs are free and open to the public! 

This month, Bob Dallison will present the program.  Plans are in the works at the Fredericton Region Museum to create a War of 1812 exhibit in time for the 200th anniversary.  A grant application has been submitted so keep your fingers crossed that we are approved.  Bob has been researching and writing a book on the subject and has kindly agreed to curate the exhibit and his program will be an introduction to his research and plans for the exhibit.  The program will be on March 17th at 7:30 so please join us and bring a friend!

New Brunswick and the War of 1812
By Bob Dallison

For two decades, Great Britain and France had been locked in a life and death struggle.  In this environment of global conflict, it became increasingly difficult for the United States of America to protect its trade links and maintain its rights as a neutral on the high seas.  With all of Britain’s resources focused on its struggle with France, the timing would never be more propitious for the United States.  On June 18, 1812, President James Madison declared war on Great Britain.

With war on its doorstep, the people of New Brunswick felt extremely vulnerable, fearing for their lives, families, and property.  Sharing an extension border with the United States made an invasion a strong possibility.  The response by the provincial legislative assembly and the general public was both patriotic and immediate, every possible measure was taken to put New Brunswick in the best possible state of defence.

To the great relief of New Brunswickers, an undeclared state of neutrality was soon established along the border with Maine.  As the threat of an invasion faded, the focus of New Brunswick‘s war effort turned to supporting the British campaigns in Upper and Lower Canada and naval operations along the Atlantic coast.  The last year of the war saw a dramatic change.  With Napoleon’s sudden collapse on the continent, military resources became available for Britain to take a more aggressive stance in North America.  The authorities in Fredericton saw this as an opportunity to resolve the disputed international Maine/New Brunswick boundary.  At their instigation, British military forces occupied Eastport and the Penobscot River Valley.  For a short period, Northern Maine was declared as part of New Brunswick.

The Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812 and with peace came a substantial reduction of British military forces.  Many of the regiments were disbanded and settled in North America.  These military settlers would be a major legacy of the war for New Brunswick.  While not in the forefront of hostilities, the War of 1812 was a defining event for the fledgling Province of New Brunswick.

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