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Letter from the Editor The Reckless Death of Sir Isaac Brock


On the 1st of July, 1867 Canada became a nation. From small beginnings something great was created and flourishes to this day. Much like Canada in 1867, Voyager today is an entity in its embryonic stage. With each edition we are aiming to evolve our appeal to avid history aficionados; in our June edition we launched our publication with a strong foundation focusing on thematic articles, an overview of 'This Month in History', and a visual section offering readers various maps to contextualize events on a geographic scale. cont....

          CANADA DAY July 1st 1867

At midnight of June 30th, 1867 the clock ticked and the new country of Canada was born. Although the documents would not be signed, and the Queen’s proclamation would not be read until later in the day, the celebrations began immediately as the bells rang out from almost every church and cathedral steeple across the land.

MacdonaldThe previous summer has seen a flurry of activity by the British Colonies as they prepared to accept or decline entry into the expected British North American Union. Macdonald had been at the head of the Canadian efforts to finalize the arrangements in the two Canada’s while also lending support in New Brunswick to elect a pro-Confederation assembly and deal with a threatened invasion by Fenians from the United States. Although the pro-Federalist forces were in power in Nova Scotia, their mandate would expire in 1867 and it seemed unlikely that a government accepting of the terms of the new colonial union would be elected.  Time was short and in order to get the British Parliament to pass the terms of Confederation, the matter had to be moved along in a timely fashion.


When asked to produce an article on Sir Isaac Brock, I initially sought to strongly criticize Brock’s reckless disregard for his life at the Battle of Queenston Heights. After deeper examination of his situation during the battle and after considering his legacy, I decided it better to look at how his death has provided a lasting and potent legacy for our Canadian identity.

Brock            The Battle of Queenston Heights in 1812 was the culmination of the effort by the Americans under the overall command of Major General Stephen Van Rensselaer to subvert control of the Niagara Peninsula from British control. Having failed in their attempt on the 11th of October to make the crossing from the American side of the Niagara River, a second attempt was made on the morning of October 13th. After major bombardment from British emplacements, bateaux laden with American regulars and militia landed on the British shores. What followed was a bloody series of engagements where the British with the support of Canadian and Native forces managed to hold off American advances. While the main American force had stalled at the base of the river a number soldiers embarked on bateaux had drifted to Hamilton Cove to the north of Queenston and were taken prisoner; the general disarray in the American camp and the inability of the soldiers to steer the bateaux made reinforcement difficult and resupply impossible. It looked as if the Americans were utterly defeated until a large detachment of American soldiers under Captain John Ellis Wool managed to scale the bluffs to the south of Queenston and seized the heights from the British gunners emplaced there. Unable to spike the guns, the gunners fled the heights as the American forces seized this key location overlooking the town. Observing this and recognizing the threat that this position posed for engaged British forces, Major General Sir Isaac Brock decided to take the initiative and counter attack.



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