Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Night At the Museum: 1812 at the Canadian War Museum


Portraits line the corridor adjacent to the 1812 exhibit.
night, Brian and I were invited to the grand opening of the newest
exhibit at the Canadian War Museum: '1812: One War, Four Perspectives'.
Raised as I was, surrounded by historians and a father who worked
closely with history, I was excited to see this exhibit come to life,
and it did not disappoint.

The exhibit, set up in a cloverleaf sort of shape, explores the war from four perspectives: 
-Canadians, including Canadian First Peoples
-The British
-Native Americans

Bri and I, looking dapper!
perspective had its own room, and a slew of great artifacts, with everything coming together in the middle like a hub. We were
blown away by how many things had survived the 200 years to be here with
us today. The excellent condition and restoration of the pieces made
the displays that much more engaging; it felt like the people and their
treasures were here only yesterday. My mother, also in attendance,
developed a grim fascination with some of the more basic weaponry
artifacts--clubs with blades attached to them, and other concussive
devices--while Brian ogled each and every musket in the place. I enjoyed
the displays relating more to everyday life: a portable writing desk
used by a British soldier on his journeys, or the interactive dress-up area,
where I got to put on an era-appropriate dress, and Brian proudly strode
around in a soldier's jacket.

exhibit is well-explained; virtually every display has a written
explanation to accompany it. I discovered a new depth of information
about 1812 that I hadn't realized existed before. Like many Canadians, I
have always been just a general 1812 fan because this was the war where
we repelled the Americans from our land; but it was interesting to see
the war from the perspective of the British, the Aboriginals, and even
the Americans. We were a bit disappointed that there wasn't more
emphasis put on the razing of the White House by the Canadians--indeed,
the exhibit leaves us completely out of the story and refers only to the
British invaders--but I guess that all's political in love and war.

A piece of the charred White House--
which used to be pink, believe it or not.
such incredible artifacts, you may want to pick up a copy of the
companion coffee table book, with gorgeous full-colour photos of the
artifacts taken by the War Museum's resident photographer, Bill

enjoyed '1812: One War, Four Perspectives'. It's a mature and
well-curated exhibit with plenty to look at, and most of it
well-preserved. We'd recommend it for anyone who's got a kid who isn't
really getting into history class; it's the kind of exhibit that is
engaging like a good story, and may help to paint a more vivid picture.
Well frankly, I recommend this exhibit for all the adults out there,
too: you know it's been way too long since you learned anything new
about history that wasn't told to you in a movie. Rarer still is an
opportunity to learn something new about how kick-ass our Canadian and
Aboriginal ancestors were. 

Here, some more pictures for your eye candy desires:


A grave marker.

Laura Secord: purveyor of fine chocolates, and military intel.
(The chocolates aren't true, actually.)

Mom and Dad. (You can get people to do almost anything,
if you say it's for your blog.)


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