A Soldier’s Account of the War of 1812

After exploring the history of the War of 1812, students will create a diary expressing the views of a British soldier in the war.



Provide an overview of the War of 1812 based on the information found in the Canadian Atlas Online War of 1812 theme.

Distribute copies of Appendix A: The Taking of the City of Washington in America. Instruct the students to study the painting for several minutes. Ask the class:

  • Whose viewpoint is presented in the painting: British or American?
  • In what ways would a British soldier view the burning of Washington? How would this differ from the view of an American soldier?

Explain that the class is going to create a diary from the perspective of a British soldier who has fought in the War of 1812.

Lesson Development

Explain to students that they will explore the life/lives of real soldiers from the War of 1812 in order to write from the perspective of a British soldier in their diary.

Distribute Appendix B:   List of British Soldiers who fought in the War of 1812. Escort students to a computer lab with internet access. Instruct them to complete point-form research on one or more of the names listed.

Assign a diary activity. Use a Diary Rubric (such as the example provided in the assessment section of this lesson) to explain the criteria required.


Assign students to a triad (group of 3).

Advise students to share one entry from their diaries with two other people.



Listen to the overview.

Share thoughts about the painting.

Listen to the directions.

Lesson Development

Listen to the instructions.

Conduct research.

Create a diary using the criteria in a Diary Rubric as a guide.


Students will share one entry each from their diaries with the members in their triad.

Lesson Extension

  • Using a map, explore why the first capital of Upper Canada, Newark (now Niagara-on-the Lake) was moved to York (Toronto) in 1793. What was the role of geography in the move?
    [Until 1791, all the lands north of the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes were simply known as "Quebec." In 1791, the Constitutional Act divided and renamed this vast territory. The Ontario area was called Upper Canada, and the remainder of old Quebec was called Lower Canada. The first capital of Upper Canada was Newark near the Canada-U.S. border. The capital was moved in 1793 to York which was less vulnerable to raids from the new republic to the south. Upper Canada's first Lieutenant Governor was General John Graves Simcoe.]