It was the year 1812. Great Britain was still locked in a vicious war with Napoleon Bonaparte in Europe. The bloody struggle continued—on the land—and on the sea. Consequently, few resources could be spared for England’s colonies in North America. It was not that long ago she had lost a valuable foothold on that continent: The new Republic of the United States of America had emerged following a previous bloody struggle with England during the revolutionary war for independence.
At the time, Canada (or The Canadas) was divided into two provinces: Upper Canada and Lower Canada. The vast virgin wilderness was slowly being colonized with many hundreds of settlers who had fled the new Republic, fearing persecution for their loyalty to King and country. Other settlers were Americans, many owning land on both sides of the border. First Nations throughout North America were being directly affected by this immigration.
The rumblings of a renewed conflict with England surfaced throughout the new Republic of the United States and had been drifting into Canada, gradually, steadily. They drifted eerily, like the stinging haze that followed the blast of a deadly musket.
Words floated invisibly through the air; words like impressment, fair trade, and tyranny. It caused a fog of quiet dissension to hover—still and dangerously—over the unsuspecting British colony.
Through the haze was a man who could foresee the unrest that threatened the peaceful and prosperous countryside of Canada—Major-General Isaac Brock. He was not surprised at the series of events that were taking place across the border in the spring of 1812. He was not surprised when the air became crystal clear to reveal a defining moment in the history of this wonderful country.
Following the declaration of war made by the United States of America against Great Britain in June, Brigadier-General William Hull assembled approximately 1,600 militia volunteers and 400 regular soldiers and set off from Ohio into the wilds of Michigan Territory. Early in July, he reached the hamlet of Sandwich, in Upper Canada, on the banks of the Detroit River.
On the other side of the river was situated the American fort, Fort Detroit. Close to Sandwich, near the mouth of the Detroit River at Lake Erie, was the British fort, called Fort Amherstburg. The general’s goal was to conquer Canada for the new Republic of the United States of America—to wage war, if necessary.
It was there in the tiny hamlet, on July 13, 1812, that Hull prepared a proclamation, printed in both French and English. He ordered it to be distributed throughout the countryside along the shores of the Detroit and Thames Rivers.
On behalf of the British Empire, Major-General Isaac Brock produced a written response to Hull’s incredible proclamation.
The War of 1812 was about to commence in full force.
For Elizabeth Benton and her family living in the Long Point Settlement of Upper Canada, the complete impact of the ongoing war was about to be realized on a warm September day, 1813.