Canadian input into remaking of Michigan War of 1812 battlefield

The $100 million expansion aims to draw more than one million visitors annually when completed, many of them Canadians, compared to about 30,000 who visited in 2011, according to City of Monroe development coordinator Mark Cochran.

The site is at Monroe, Michigan, just over 30 miles south of Detroit.

The site saw significant military clashes during the War of 1812 with the Canadians and British.

Jami Keegan, a park ranger at the site, said there are already Canadian artifacts such as uniforms at the museum, and these will increase substantially, along with more exhibits of the native role in the battles, which include Fort Detroit and the Battle of Moraviantown north of Chatham where Shawnee chief and British ally Tecumseh died.

“Our goal is to include as many perspectives as possible and not just the American perspective but also the French perspective because this happened right in their home,” Keegan said.

“But also the Canadian perspective and then the native.”

But, she said, “it’s a work in progress that we’re working to build a brand new education centre to try to tell the whole entire story.”

Keegan says her museum has long worked with Canadians and is stepping up this role as it plans a new education centre.

“We work a lot with Fort Malden” in Amherstburg, she said.

Two esteemed Canadian historians are also taking part.

One is Sandy Antal, an authority who has written widely about Tecumseh and ally British commander Isaac Brock.

And the other is Dr. John Steckley, a retired professor of native American studies and indigenous languages at the University of Toronto.

He published a Huron-English dictionary in 2007.

The River Raisin Battle – the deadliest during the entire War of 1812 – marked a major turning point in US history.

The British-Canadian force captured Fort Detroit and took Frenchtown, now Monroe, where River Raisin is located.

Even the name Frenchtown owes its roots to original Canadian explorers, namely the explorer LaSalle who sailed from what is now Montreal in the 17th century.

US troops then repelled the invaders but a few days later the Canadians returned in force, and the Americans surrendered.

More US soldiers died in that battle than any other during the war.

Later, in 1813, the US Navy took control of Lake Erie and the British retreated to Upper Canada where the Battle of the Thames occurred and Tecumseh died.

The battle also shaped American history.

Americans who shouted “remember the Raisin” created policy to force the removal of native populations and opened the west for expansion.

Photo: NPS Photo

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