The War of 1812: Shaping Canadian Identity

Students will assume the role of a member of a local historical society that has been asked to approve a list of important historical events for inclusion in an upcoming commemorative series of stamps/coins. Further research must be conducted in order to provide an informed opinion about whether the War of 1812 should be included in the list. Students must determine causes of the war, important people, key locations, impacts of the conflict and how the war has shaped Canadian identity in order to make their recommendation.



Distribute task cards, one per each student (attached – there are 4 cards per page).

Assume the role of chair of a local historical society in Saskatchewan. The students are members of the historical society. Read the “correspondence” (prompt) from the Department of Canadian Heritage that you have received. Canadian Heritage is asking your historical society to approve a list of important historical events in Canada’s history that have shaped the country’s identity.

Dear Historical Society:

Your involvement and interest in Canada’s history is required in order to help us finalize a list of the most important historical events to put forth to Canada Post (or the Mint)in order to create a commemorative stamp (or coin) set next year.

We believe that the list should include the elements below, as we feel they best exemplify the highest ideals of Canada and our identity as a country:

  • local historical events;
  • significant national events from the 20th century;
  • the War of 1812.

We kindly ask your society to make recommendations as to which of these events should make the final list to be submitted to Canada Post (Mint) by _____ (date).

Yours Sincerely,

The department of Canadian Heritage.

Clearly, you will recommend events from  Western Canada, but you question and express doubt to your society members about whether or not the War of 1812 is important and appropriate for the list.

Lesson Development

Ask the historical society members to conduct a fact finding mission to ensure that they have the facts before they make a final judgement and decision.

Recommend that members examine the resources sanctioned by the society:

  • Canadian Geographic War of 1812 poster-map
  • War of 1812 interactive map & timeline

  • Canadian Atlas Online War of 1812 theme

Ask members to summarize their findings on The War of 1812 Fact Finding Summary Chart (attached).  Distribute a copy of the chart to each member of the historical society and review the instructions as required.

Ask members to draft a summary of the three most important reasons why the War of 1812 should remain on the list, based on the facts gathered in their research.


Hear the committee member’s final decisions and reasons for keeping the War of 1812 from the list. Prepare a common list of reasons that explains how the War of 1812 shaped Canadian society.

Call for a vote of the committee after hearing all the members.

Help the committee draft a response to the Department of Canadian Heritage that will be the society’s final answer to the request and outline all of the reasons why the War of 1812 should be kept on the list.



Read the task card.

Listen to the correspondence provided.

Agree that the Western and more recent events should be approved in the list, but vocally and visibly question the worthiness of the War of 1812 as a possibility.

Lesson Development

Conduct research to find facts about the War of 1812.

Summarize the facts and make a decision to keep the War of 1812 on the list or not.  Use The War of 1812 Fact Finding Summary Chart to record evidence that supports the decision.

Draft a summary of the three most important reasons why the War of 1812 should remain on the list, based on the facts gathered.


Present final recommendations to the historical society. Outline (in writing and/or oral form) at least three ways that the War of 1812  shaped Canada’s identity and should therefore be kept on the list.

Lesson Extension

  • Conduct research and prepare a paper on the role of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, who took up permanent residence in the Saskatchewan area in the 1860’s and their role as British allies during the War of 1812.
  • Based on their research on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation and their role in the War of 1812, create a commemorative Canadian stamp.