Canadian Identity and the War of 1812: How the Map of North America Could Look

In this lesson students will examine the impact of the War of 1812 on Canadian history and on the map of North America.  First, they will locate and re-create significant battles in the War of 1812.  Next, they will redraw the political boundaries of North America to illustrate how the division of space on this continent would be different if the United States had won the War of 1812.



Enter the classroom and tell students that history has changed and Britain lost the War of 1812.  Canada is now part of the United States.

Divide students into pairs to complete a THINK-PAIR-SHARE activity on this topic:

“How would your life be different if the United States had taken over present-day Canada in the War of 1812?”

(A THINK-PAIR-SHARE activity involves students brainstorming individually for 2 minutes, then pairing up with a partner and sharing their ideas and finally sharing their ideas with the class.)

Students will likely discuss differences in pop culture, shopping, social programs, language, government and other aspects of American identity that separate Canadians from Americans.

Lesson Development

Explain that the War of 1812 allowed Britain to retain control over Canada.

Show students the brief video on James Madison and the War of 1812.  Ask students to complete Student Activity #1:  War of 1812 Basics from the information presented in the video.

Review the answers to the activity with students to ensure that there is a general understanding of the War of 1812.

Divide students into small groups of 2-3 students.  Distribute one of the important events of the War of 1812 to each student group.  These can be cut out from the teacher handout The War of 1812 Important Events (attached).

Ask student groups to go to the following War of 1812 website and locate their battle: .

The section on the War of 1812 in the Canadian Encyclopedia may also be helpful as a resource.

Place a large map of North America on the board (you may use either a computer image or an overhead projector.)

Next, ask students to briefly re-enact their battle to show the significant events that took place.  Supply students with paper, markers and any other appropriate props to use to re-enact their event.


Distribute Student Activity #2:  Mapping Assignment and a blank map of North America to each student.

Review the instructions with students and clarify as necessary.

While this is a creative mapping assignment, students should still give their maps an appropriate title and include all essential map elements (scale, legend, compass).



Complete the THINK-PAIR-SHARE activity.

Lesson Development

Complete Student Activity #1:  War of 1812 Basics after watching the video.

Review the answers to the activity as a class.

Groups should locate their battle and label it on the map at the front of the room.

Each group should creatively re-enact their battle or event using any props that they feel are necessary.


Complete Student Activity #2:  Mapping Assignment.

Lesson Extension

Write an essay on the significance of the War of 1812 to the map of Canada and/or the map of North America.