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Montréal, January 10th, 2013 - The Stewart Museum is pleased to announce that it will receive funding from the Government of Canada through Canadian Heritage’s 1812 Commemoration Fund. The funding in the amount of $100,000 will enable the Stewart Museum to set up the web project 1812: Archive Secrets.

This multimedia project will allow the Stewart Museum to position itself as embracing technological change but also as a reference center for the War of 1812, thanks to the creation of this web portal. The portal will include the largest existing database with a search engine on the Canadian militias of Lower Canada, a “Who’s Who” of the population of Lower Canada at the time and a series of lectures and capsules on the subject. A nationwide competition, In the Footsteps of our Canadian Heroes, will also be launched to raise awareness among Canadians and encourage them to feed the database with their family archives.

The Stewart Museum has more than 100 artifacts (objects, rare books, archival documents) directly related to the War of 1812. Furthermore, the Museum is housed in the arsenal of the British fortified depot of Île Sainte-Hélène, a military building built between 1820 and 1824 by the British, who after the events of the Anglo-American war decided to strengthen the defensive system of their colonies in North America. Île Sainte-Hélène was seen as the ideal location for a supply center for Montréal and Upper Canada.

A little-known history
The years 1812-1815 represent an under-analyzed period in the history of Lower Canada even though it is a milestone in the history of Quebec. More than 10,000 militiamen were recruited to defend their homeland. Paradoxically we can observe a lack of educational and informational resources on the theme of Canadian society around 1820 and, more specifically, on the emergence and defense of the language rights of francophones having participated in the conflict. 1812: Archive Secrets will therefore fill this gap in addition to responding directly to the “Social sciences” component of the Programme de formation de l’école québécoise, which focuses on the influence of some major actors and the impact of historical events on the social and territorial organization of Lower Canada.

The conflict actually had an impact on the territorial planning of Lower Canadian society in 1820, particularly through the establishment of a system of communication and defense (military garrisons and canals) still visible today. The Napoleonic wars, which had an impact on pan-Canadian society, will also be discussed. Espionage and subversive acts by French agents certainly pique the interest of Canadians and Quebecers. The War of 1812 also had an impact on the future of First Nations people as well as an impact on technology. The first rockets were used in North America during the battle of March 20, 1814 against the U.S. military on the Lacolle River.

To ensure the success of this project, the Stewart Museum has turned to Mr. Luc Lépine (military historian) who has devoted the last 30 years to the demystification of this conflict and has written a doctoral thesis on the subject. The researcher has also graciously shared all his archives with the Stewart Museum in order to feed the project and contribute to the construction of the database and “Who’s Who”. Everything will be made available to Canadians to help them better analyze and understand the impact of the 1812-1814 conflict.

In conclusion
"I have always believed that the Museum distinguishes itself through the collections which it conserves and exhibits, and today, I believe this more than ever. The permanent collection is the heart, brain and body of the Museum. The educational mission is the lungs, and its various forms of expression give the Museum its personality, breath and rhythm. Our participation in the commemorations of 1812 is an opportunity to reaffirm the founding principle of the Museum which inspired Mr. Stewart," says Guy Vadeboncoeur, Director and Chief Curator of the Stewart Museum.

“Canada would not exist had the American invasion of 1812–1814 not been repelled, and for that reason, the War of 1812 was a defining chapter in our history,” said the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. “Our Government is proud to invest in a project that will provide opportunities for Canadians to learn more about our past and the heroic efforts that tell the story of the Canada we know today—united, prosperous, and free.”

About the Stewart Museum
The Stewart Museum, a private non-profit history museum, was founded in 1955 by philanthropist David M. Stewart. The institution holds a unique collection of nearly 27,000 artifacts, archival documents and rare books that show the European presence in New France and North America up to the present. The Museum’s main mission: to conserve and exhibit these objects which relate to the voyages, scientific advances, feats of arms, beliefs and daily life of our ancestors. This Montréal organization is located in the arsenal of the British fortified depot, on Île Sainte-Hélène, a 19th century military construction registered in the Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec.

Contact: Myriam Perron
Communication Advisor
514 861-6701 ext. 231