When Neighbours Fight

Every American child knows the story about those Canadian rebels (still technically British subjects at the time), who stormed across the Canadian/American border during the War of 1812 and torched the White House in Washington.

What they might not know however, is that it was not an unprovoked attack.  In my completely unbiased opinion, Canadians just wouldn’t do that {said with the slightest trace of a smirk}.

American militia had attacked York (now Toronto), then proceeded to burn and loot many buildings … including the Legislative building.

The Parliamentary Mace – a ceremonial “wand” carried into the Legislature to signify that parliament is ready to conduct business – was stolen by the Americans as a trophy.

For over a hundred years, Ontario’s original Parliamentary Mace sat in a Washington museum until it was finally returned to Canada in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt.

It now resides in the lobby of Queen’s Park – home of the Ontario Provincial Legislature in Toronto.

parliamentary mace
The 1st Parliamentary Mace – made of wood and painted gold

The current Mace of the Ontario Legislature is a bit more ornate than the original and has been in use for over a hundred years.  It sports 2 large diamonds – the first diamonds mined in Ontario.

parliamentary mace2
This is actually the 3rd Mace – the 2nd was destroyed in a fire.  This one is made of copper and is gold-plated.

The War of 1812 was the only armed conflict between the two neighbours and both the Americans and Canadians celebrate it as a victory for their side.



    • omg – I’ve always had a tendency to think of historic events in isolation. It never occurred to me that our War of 1812 was occurring at the same time as Napoleon’s famous misadventure into Russia! Ooooh – I love when these connections finally click into place.
      Now I’M also going to have the 1812 Overture stuck in my head!!

      I admit I stifled a snicker when I saw the painted wooden stick. Shall we call it ‘understated’? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This was quite enlightening. Never heard about this before. I think India and Pakistan must take a leaf out of this. 70 years of enemity, grudge, ego and religious politics. Both countries struggling to prosper and develop.


    • More often than not, the reasons for fighting look foolish when put under an intense glare.
      Too bad we can’t do to countries what we do to children when they fight … give them a stern talking to and send them to their room 🙂


  2. Thanks for the history lesson….I missed this little bit of our combined history. Of course I tend to live in a rose colored world where Americans and Canadians are friends now and always have been. Honestly if such a war broke out today between our 2 countries I would be in a heck of a pickle…Born and raised an American…but horribly embarrassed by our arrogant ways. I love Canada and my Canadian friends. I might just have to sit on the border and scream for peace!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so glad President Franklin D. Roosevelt returned the mace to the proper country, Joanne. I am smiling that both countries consider themselves the “winners of the War of 1812.”
    I think the amicable years between our countries since then are very impressive! 🙂 I sure like my Canadian friends. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I swear to you, it was not until my husband and I were in our 30s and made friends with Canadians that we discovered the other half of the story. Initially, we were rather indignant, and then we were flummoxed looking for (unbiased) information and then we were like, “Screw it, whatever, we love the Canadians.” LOL
    I for one am always saying Canada is so nice. Sorry about yer mace. I reckon no one’s holding a grudge now, right? Right?!?

    Liked by 1 person

    • No grudges … not even a little one. After all, it was just a piece of painted wood and in retaliation we torched your Presidential mansion. Somewhat of an over reaction maybe? 🙂

      I think of the Canada / US relationship as something similar to sisters … you’re the young teenager trying to look cool with her friends with the nerdy little tag-along sister always saying and doing embarrassing things that everyone else says is so cute … but is really just annoying 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Here’s hoping for another 200 years of peace. It seems we learn how to get along with countries that can kick our butts. The same thing seems to be happening with Vietnam. We’re getting along real well with them lately.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What was wrong with Americans back then. Some things you just don’t do. You don’t go and steal a ceremonial wand in Canada when there are so many other things they could have taken instead. Smoked Salmon, Maple Syrup, snow shoes…but no, they go for a wand and put it in a museum. That’s typical for us, we start a war and don’t think it all the way through.

    On a serious note, I have never heard of it, but I do have an excuse since I haven’t been an American child. What an interesting story, I can honestly say (see above excuse) that I have never heard of it.

    What did they do during those 100 years, was there any business without the ceremonial wand I wonder (snicker)?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Bridget, I had such a good laugh reading this! “That’s typical for us, we start a war and don’t think it all the way through”.

      When I saw it, I thought something along the same line … it’s just a piece of painted wood. No intrinsic value! What WERE they thinking?!!

      Yes, another mace was made to replace the 1st one … but was destroyed in a fire. That’s why the current one (#3) is gold-plated copper.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the history lesson Joanne. Glad you got your Mace back. Scotland’s Stone of Destiny took waay longer to find its way home! I like the idea of a personal Mace: especially if I could use it to poke people who really annoyed me.


  8. Thanks for the history lesson, Joanne. I had no idea…because they did not teach that in my school. I’m glad both sides won. It made for an eventual peaceful coexistence.

    I need a mace a work. Don’t let anyone get in my way…or do you think that’s too much for a Princess?


  9. As much as I would like to toot Roosevelt’s horn, the mace was returned as part of a bargaining chip for a memorial plaque to be placed in Toronto. It was suggested, I assume, by the Toronto mayor and council that the historic mace be returned as a goodwill gesture at the time of the unveiling of the memorial plaque. Here is the letter FDR wrote.: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=14862 Did you see the plaque as well…was it in the same location?


    • oh, I love it when a post starts triggering more information! This is pretty cool.

      No … I didn’t know about this plaque. The current location of the provincial legislature is several kilometers from the original Old Town.

      I’ve been searching and I think I know where it MIGHT be. I’ll have to look into it further. I suspect it’s around the Fort York area.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this post and all the comments. I live near a battle sight for this war and I know we won the battle, and the war I might add, but I never really learned about the Canadian participation. I always hear about defeating the British, but now I know more. My husband would probably roll his eyes at me because he really tries to teach me history. Now I am going to have to ask him about this. I think Marissa should get an imitation mace because I want her to look intimidating and I don’t even know her. 🙂


    • I was on a tour this morning of our Legislative Building when this story was told to us. There were only 2 of us on the tour… the other person was an American.
      He thought this story was hilarious, because of course, the burning of the White House isn’t taught as a retaliatory action … but it should be. It makes it more interesting 🙂

      I think it’s just wonderful that we can end a war with both sides believing they won! If only all disputes could be ended this successfully.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Well isn’t that lovely that both sides won! I didn’t know about the stealing of the mace and the long road to its return. Yes and of course you are right that the Canadians would never start it. 🙂


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