The Métis and the war of 1812
<h4>"These hardy voyageurs or half-breeds...<span>came up with the North-West Company, and...married Indian women, their progeny also becoming British soldiers or attachés of the fur company in various capacities ... Some were proud recipients of medals still treasured by their descendants and gained for bravery at Plattsburgh and other historic battlefields, and some carried wounds received while gallantly upholding British supremacy. They were in the front of battle during the stirring scenes of Mackinaw, St. Joseph Island, Sault Ste. Marie and other sanguinary points during the war of 1812-15. This is a testimony more eloquent than words to the loyalty and worth of the ancestors of the settlers around Penetanguishene.</span>”</h4>
<p>– William Rawson (son of Sergeant Santlaw Rawson, a British soldier in the War of 1812), quoted in, The Migration of Voyageurs from Drummond Island to Penetanguishene in 1828 by A. C. Osborne in Ontario Historical Society: Papers and Records. v.3, 1901 p. 123-166.</p>

Historians generally portray the causes of the War of 1812 as originating outside of Canada’s borders, but this has not prevented Canadians from viewing the repulsion of the American invasions of 1812-14 as the foundation of modern Canada. Due to its conflict with Napoleon, Britain could only provide a small contingent of troops to defend Canada, and these troops by themselves would surely have failed without the support of the Métis, First Nations and local Canadian militias. The spirited defence of Canada by all these groups contributed to a distinctive Canadian identity, but until very recently, Métis contributions during the War of 1812 have not been well known or recognized. The articles in this section each highlight some of the contributions of Métis during the War of 1812.

In the summer of 2012, several students who were part of the MNO Summer Youth Program participated in a historical re-enactment of one of the battles during the War of 1812.  These students represented Métis who were involved in the war. These students produced a video documenting their experience. Click here to view the video.

Metis and the war

Métis Involvement

The Métis involvement in the War of 1812 is an example of how the Métis, along with First Nations and European newcomers, are among Canada’s founding peoples.

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A War of 1812 Message from the
Métis Nation of Ontario President
Gary Lipinski.

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The stories about the role of our ancestors “in the defence of Canada” during the War of 1812 must be remembered.

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Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac, an outpost on Mackinac Island, located between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, was a crucial waterway for the fur trade.

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