The spring of 1812 in the Upper Canadian village of Queenston, overlooking the Niagara River, was a pleasant, if busy, time for Augusta Jarvis McCormick. Writing to her father, William Jarvis, a Loyalist and member of the colonial government, McCormick opened her letter by begging his pardon ‘for so long delaying to write you,’ explaining that her household responsibilities had kept her from putting pen to paper. Perhaps a recent gift from him of some asparagus had prompted a twinge of daughterly guilt, as she made sure to thank him for the ‘very fine … and very acceptable’ vegetables. McCormick also sent other local news, such as the birth of her sister’s son, a neighbour’s affliction with gout and the dispatch of a cake from Queenston to her father’s home in York, the colony’s capital. McCormick looked forward to a peaceful summer, with her days shaped by domestic duties and delights: babies, asparagus, cakes and a landscape that ‘looked like a flower garden’.1
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- American Revolution
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Carl Benn, The Iroquois in the War of 1812 (Toronto, 1998), 27–28.
David Mills, The Idea of Loyalty in Upper Canada, 1784–1850 (Montreal, 1988), 25–28;
E. Jane Errington, The Lion, the Eagle, and Upper Canada: A Developing Colonial Ideology (Montreal, 1987), 89;
J. K. Johnson, Becoming Prominent: Regional Leadership in Upper Canada, 1791–1841 (Montreal, 1989), 76.
For a survey of the colony, see Gerald Craig, Upper Canada: The Formative Years (Toronto, 1963);
also Edward S. Rogers and Donald B. Smith (eds), Aboriginal Ontario: Historical Perspectives on the First Nations (Toronto, 1994);
Peter S. Schmalz, The Ojibwa of Southern Ontario (Toronto, 1991);
Michael Power and Nancy Butler, Slavery and Freedom in Niagara (Niagara-on-the-Lake, 2000). For later developments pertaining to the Indian Act and Native women,
see Jo-Anne Fisk, ‘Political Status of Native Indian Women: Contradictory Implications of Canadian State Policy’, in In the Days of Our Grandmothers: A Reader in Aboriginal Women’s History in Canada, ed. Mary-Ellen Kelm and Lorna Townsend (Toronto, 2006), 336–366. For women’s work in historical societies,
see Beverley Boutilier and Alison Prentice (eds), Creating Historical Memory: English-Canadian Women and the Work of History (Vancouver, 1997);
Cecilia Morgan, ‘History, Nation, Empire: Gender and the Work of Southern Ontario Historical Societies, 1890–1920s’, Canadian Historical Review 82 (2001): 491–528.
See Craig, Upper Canada; Rogers and Smith, Aboriginal Ontario; Schmalz, The Ojibwa; Power and Butler, Slavery and Freedom; Janice Potter-McKinnon, While the Women Only Wept: Loyalist Refugee Women in Eastern Ontario (Montreal, 1993).
Historians of Upper Canada have mentioned Strachan’s Discourse, but none have commented on its gendered nature. See, for example, Errington, The Lion, the Eagle, and Upper Canada, 27; Mills, The Idea of Loyalty, 19; and Robert Fraser, ‘“Like Eden in Her Summer Dress”: Gentry, Economy, and Society, Upper Canada, 1812–1840’, Ph.D. diss. (University of Toronto, 1979), 115. On the Discourse as part of a larger trend in British royal propaganda glorifying George for his domestic simplicity,
see Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837 (New Haven, 1992), 223.
George Sheppard, Plunder, Profit, and Paroles: A Social History of the War of 1812 in Upper Canada (Montreal, 1994);
W. W. Weekes, ‘Civil Authority and Martial Law in Upper Canada’, in The Defended Border: Upper Canada and the War of 1812, ed. Morris Zaslow (Toronto, 1964), 193.
‘Life of Isaac Brock’, KG, 7 November 1812; ‘Patriotic Service’, KG, 20 April 1813; ‘Battle of Queenston Heights, a Description by an Onlooker’, in Cruikshank, Documentary History, vol. 4, 114–116; Allen McDonnell, ‘Poem Delivered at Annual Examination of Scholars, York District School’, Upper Canada Gazette (hereafter UCG), 6 August 1812; Address Given at the Anniversary of the Battle of Queenston Heights’, UCG, 21 October 1824; ‘Public Meeting at Brock’s Monument’, The Examiner, 5 August 1840; ‘General Brock’, British Colonist, 24 July 1840. See also Keith Waiden, ‘Isaac Brock: Man and Myth, a Study of the Militia Myth of the War of 1812 in Upper Canada, 1812–1912’, MA thesis (Queen’s University, Kingston, 1971).
George F. G. Stanley, ‘The Indians in the War of 1812’, in Sweet Promises: A Reader in Indian-White Relations in Canada, ed. J. R. Miller (Toronto, 1991), 105–124;
also Carl Benn, The Iroquois in the War of 1812 (Toronto, 1998). For the attitudes of former American colonists toward Native peoples, see Sheppard, Plunder, 121–129.
Lieutenant-Colonel Harvey to Colonel Claus, 15 July 1813, in ibid. vol. 6, 236; Sir George Prevost to General Drummond, 17 February 1814, ibid. vol. 9, 188–189; Harvey to Colonel Matthew Elliott, 17 December 1813, ibid. vol. 9, 23. See also Matilda Edgar, Ten Years of Upper Canada in Peace and War, 1805–1815; Being the Ridout Letters (Toronto, 1908), 174;
Dr William Dunlop, Recollections of the War of 1812 (1846; repr. Toronto, 1908), 77–78.
Such would be the case for elite women from families such as the Jarvises, Powells, Ridouts, Boultons and Cartwrights, whose husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, and other relatives were members of the militia. See Katherine McKenna, A Life of Propriety: Anne Murray Powell and Her Family, 1755–1849 (Montreal, 1994), 144–145; Johnson, Becoming Prominent, 175, 180, 200–201, 221.
Mary Agnes Fitzgibbon, ‘A Historic Banner’, Transactions of the Canadian Women’s Historical Society of Toronto 1 (February 1896): 20. Anne Powell was known for her forthright speech; see McKenna, A Life of Propriety, 206–229.
Drummond to Prevost, 16 July 1814, in Cruikshank, Documentary History, vol. 1, 60; Mrs Hannah Janoway to her sister-in-law, 14 September 1814, ibid. vol. 2, 230–231; William H. Merritt, ‘Personal Note’, 8 July 1813, ibid. vol. 6, 208–210. See also Brian Leigh Dunnigan, ‘Military Life at Niagara, 1792–1796’, in The Capital Years: Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1792–1796, ed. Richard Merritt et al. (Toronto, 1991), 67–102.
Cecilia Morgan, ‘“Of Slender Frame and Delicate Appearance”: The Placing of Laura Secord in Narratives of Canadian Loyalist History’, Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 5 (1994): 195–212.
Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (Chapel Hill, 1980);
Mary Beth Norton, Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800 (Boston, 1980);
Ruth H. Bloch, ‘The Gendered Meanings of Virtue in Revolutionary America’, Signs 13 (1987): 37–58;
Paula Baker, ‘The Domestication of Politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780–1920’, American Historical Review 89 (1984): 620–647.
For a discussion of Commonwealthmen and civic humanism, see J. G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment (Princeton, 1975); idem, Virtue, Commerce, and History: Essays on Political Thought and History (Princeton, 1985);
H. T. Dickinson, Liberty and Property: Political Ideology in Eighteenth-Century Britain (London, 1979);
Caroline Robbins, The Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman (Cambridge, 1961).
See Cecilia Morgan, ‘“When Bad Men Conspire, Good Men Must Unite!”: Gender and Political Discourses in Upper Canada, 1820s-1830s’, in Gendered Pasts: Historical Essays in Femininity and Masculinity in Canada, ed. Kathryn McPherson et al. (1999; repr. Toronto, 2003), 12–28.
Pierpoint’s narrative is discussed in Power and Butler, Slavery and Freedom, 43–46. See also Robert L. Fraser, ‘Richard Pierpoint’, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 16 vols (Toronto, 1966-), vol. 7, 697–698.
Such arguments were often made when representatives of the Crown visited British North America. Ian Radforth, ‘Performance, Politics, and Representation: Aboriginal People and the 1860s Royal Tour of Canada’, Canadian Historical Review 84 (2003): 1–32.
Women were not initially excluded from the franchise in most of the British North American colonies, although colonial officials assumed that women would not vote. From the 1790s until the 1840s some women voted on the basis of their status as property holders. From the 1830s onwards, however, women were explicitly disenfranchised by colonial assemblies; see John Garner, The Franchise and Politics in British North America, 1755–1867 (Toronto, 1969), 155–158. Upper Canadian reformers called for ‘responsible government’ in the 1830s and 1840s, a term that historians generally understand to mean that the Executive Council would be accountable to the elected legislative assembly.
Native women in Canada could not vote as Indians in federal elections until 1960. In the Canadian context, the term ‘band’ was defined in the 1876 federal Indian Act as a body of Native people for whom the government had set aside land and funds; see Olive Dickason, Canada’s First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times (Toronto, 1993), 284.
Aspects of this complex topic are discussed in Jeffrey McNairn, The Capacity To Judge: Public Opinion and Deliberative Democracy in Upper Canada, 1791–1854 (Toronto, 2002);
Allan P. Stouffer, The Light of Nature and the Law of God: Antislavery in Ontario, 1833–1877 (Montreal, 1992);
and Cecilia Morgan, Public Men and Virtuous Women: The Gendered Language of Religion and Politics in Upper Canada, 1791–1850 (Toronto, 1996).
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© 2010 Cecilia Morgan
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Morgan, C. (2010). Gender, Loyalty and Virtue in a Colonial Context: The War of 1812 and Its Aftermath in Upper Canada. In: Hagemann, K., Mettele, G., Rendall, J. (eds) Gender, War and Politics. War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230283046_16
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