Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Early Conflict

The permanent galleries at the Canadian War Museum tell the story of Canada's military history in chronological order, from time immemorial to the present, and against the backdrop of global history. Coming along the corridor from the temporary exhibits gallery brings us to this hub, where a map of the galleries is at its heart, and photographs of each section are on the far wall.

Armed conflict was already underway thousands of years ago in North America among First Nations peoples. The first area the visitor walks into examines that.

Here we have a close-up of the weapons and armour a warrior might have used in the pre-Contact era.

This model is of an Iroquois village under attack by a rival tribe.

Contact with Europeans started first with the Vikings a thousand years ago. Several hundred years later the French, and then the English, would make inroads. The museum examines the conflicts that rose up between the two European powers in Canada and elsewhere in North America, such as the Seven Years War, or the French And Indian War as it's also called. That war reached a climax in North America outside the walls of Quebec City in a battle on the Plains of Abraham, a decisive victory for the British that would lead to the end of New France. A model of the battleground, with lines of British and French positions, is found here, with the accompanying panels explaining how the battle unfolded.

The American Revolution had an impact on Canada, of course, with incursions by Continental Army forces under Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold, and the influx of Loyalists into the remaining British North America holdings after the war. A second conflict, the War Of 1812, would rage from that year into 1815 between the Americans, the British, and Canadian colonials. First Nations peoples would find themselves involved, such as Alex Norton (Teyonhokarawan), the Mohawk war chief who led warriors at the Battle of Queenston Heights.

The display case features a portrait of Norton, as well as a musket, wampum belt, medal, club, and axe that would have been among items a warrior might have at the time.

Another figure of the War of 1812 has his portrait across from Norton. Charles de Salaberry was a Quebecois resident who had the distinction of becoming one of the few French speaking officers in the British military during the war, organizing and commanding a French speaking regiment, the Voltigeurs canadiens. 

Later in the 19th century, the American Civil War erupted and had its effects on Canada as well. Confederation of Canada in 1867 came about partially because leaders in colonial legislatures were watching what was happening south of their borders with alarm and understood they had to come together or risk annexation. And while the legislatures and the British officially stayed neutral, that didn't stop anywhere from 20 000 to 50 000 Canadians from heading south and fighting in the war, the overwhelming majority of them for the Union. Afterwards for a number of years, Irish-American veterans of the Union army launched a number of raids, the Fenian Raids, into Canada as part of an effort to force the British into getting out of Ireland. Ultimately the raids failed, but their story is examined here.

The display cases include medals for those who responded to the Raids, and a Union army cap worn by one of the raiders, a common sight in many a Civil War photograph. The veterans of one war took elements of their uniform (or the entire uniform itself) and wore them in an unauthorized military action.

Also displayed is the uniform and other items of one of the soldiers who responded to the Fenian Raids.


  1. Gosh you do museums in detail! I usually satisfy myself with a quick run around.

  2. It's kind of sad to see that we have been having conflicts for so long.

  3. War and crime, will it ever stop?
    In my childhood-hometown you find the biggest historical festival of Northern Germany. They also "fight" with muskets. Not much action....

  4. Hello William!
    Very interesting exhibition! Lovely pictures!
    Like the portraits and the soldiers uniform.
    Enjoy your day!

  5. Nice exhibition, but it's sad that the world seems to be constantly at war...

  6. ...conflict seems to be never ending!

  7. Conflict has been going on for a very long time. Strange to know that at one time, these weapons were "state of the art."


  8. It was interesting to read more about your First Nations peoples and their history - whenever any of their artefacts, clothing, beadwork, and carvings etc. appear on our Antique Roadshow, they are always valued highly.

  9. Hours well spent visiting this museum.

  10. @Joan: I do like to do an indepth look at a museum.

    @Lady Fi: quite true.

    @Iris: there are some re-enactment societies here too. I know of one local one that uses the War of 1812 era as its motif.

    @Dimi: thank you.

    @Sami: quite true.

    @Francisco: thanks.

    @Tom: that is true.

    @Janis: and people of their time would wonder about contemporary weapons.

    @Rosemary: First Nations history is something that draws me in.

    @Jan: it's part of the human condition.

    @Catarina: I tend to make the most of visits here.

  11. Hello, the war museum is wonderful. Great exhibits. Enjoy your day and week ahead.

  12. what great uniforms ...way cool. maybe cool is not the right word. but i hope u know my meaning. ( ;

  13. War has been with us for such a long time. I wonder if we will ever be without it. Very interesting museum tour; thank you for sharing.

  14. Very interesting, William. What a terrific museum.

  15. Humans always seem to have something to fight about. The attacks can be very cruel and senseless.

  16. @Eileen: I enjoy it every time I visit.

    @Beth: thank you.

    @DJan: you're welcome.

    @Jeanie: it's quite a place.

    @RedPat: probably not.

    @Sharon: it's quite distinctive.

    @Red: that is true.

  17. Very interesting, William, but sad...

  18. Great exhibition. I wonder if we can ever learn from a long history of war and conflict.

  19. That looks like a great museum with all the exibits to see

  20. I like the variety in objects. An interesting exhibition.

  21. Very informative with great pictures. Interesting place to spend some time. Thanks for the history lesson. : )

  22. Very nice and informative exhibition. Makes you wonder if humans will ever achieve peace in the world.

  23. It almost seems like war is a permanent part of the human experience. I was reading today how Trump intends, perhaps, to control the world and his military is training and planning for global warfare (whatever that means). Can you imagine what we could do with the money and the resources we've wasted on war? Our military's budget is massive and it keeps growing. Every thing else is dwarfed by the monies spent on keeping the war machine going.

  24. @Karl: I agree.

    @Tamago: sometimes we fail to learn such lessons.

    @Bill: It is quite a museum, I've always thought.

    @Marleen: I do too.

    @Happyone: you're welcome.

    @Bill: probably not anytime soon.

    @Lowell: I'm inclined to agree with Doctor King- in the long run, the universe bends towards justice.

  25. Great 'war' display in your post and photos ~ hoping for peace ~

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  26. So much harm down for land and power.

  27. Wars. Unending wars. It's a sad world.

  28. Re: Lowell's comments. Eisenhower warned at the end of his presidency of the rise of the military-industrial complex. I fear that's what it's coming to though I'd prefer to trust in what Dr. King said about the universe bending towards justice.