On the 18th of June 1812, the United States of America declared war on the British North American colonies in what is today Central and Eastern Canada. The war raged between 1812-1815, and was a defining moment in Canada’s history as a nation. Had the American invasion been successful, Canada would not exist as we know it today.
The war had national and international significance, and also greatly impacted smaller communities. Though Durham Region saw no military action, the lives of the people who ultimately settled here were acutely affected.
The founders and leaders of the townships of Pickering, Whitby, Oshawa and Darlington (now known as Bowmanville), were veterans of the War of 1812. One such veteran, Thomas Henry, was an Oshawa founder and influential reverend. In Memoirs of Rev. Thomas Henry, the author attributes Rev. Henry’s war experience to developing the “integrity, energy, perseverance and economy that characterized his afterlife.”
This exhibition explores the individuals, such as Peter Matthews (Pickering), Jabez Lynde (Whitby), John Kerr (Oshawa), and John C. Trull (Darlington) who rose to positions of leadership in Durham Region, bringing their experiences in the war with them. It tells the stories of those who contributed both to the War of 1812, as well as to the growth and success of this community.