The Insurgency

AuthorCraig Forcese
Chapter 2
The Insurgency
“‘What,” asked Canada, “is meant by Neutrality?”
“Excite fresh men t’invade that monarch’s shore,
And f‌ill a loyal country with alarms,
And give them men, with warlike ores and arms
Encourage brigands and all aid supply;
I guess that’s ri, downright Neutral-i-ty!”
— roBina lizars & kathleen MaCfarlane lizars (1897)1
I  1837, the American republic was just over a
half-century old and today’s Canada did not exist. The United
States was not yet a continental state and British North Amer-
ica comprised a vast northern hinterland extending from a series of
small settler colonies, clustered mostly along the northeastern fron-
tier of the United States. Two of these possessions comprised “the
Canadas”: Upper Canada and Lower Canada (the southern cores of
today’s Ontario and Quebec).
This was bound to be a complicated relationship. The bound-
aries between British North America and the expanding United
States remained unsettled in both the east and far west, creating pol-
itical tensions. And within living memory, Britain and America had
fought two wars one of American independence (1775–1783), and
the another from 1812 to 1815 as a North American afterthought to
the Napoleonic Wars.
Against all odds, Britain retained control of its northern posses-
sions after both conf‌licts, but the example of the brash democratic
republic to the south posed perpetual challenges to British admin-
istration. And while the phrase would not be used for several more

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