MORRISBURG, Ont. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper took Remembrance Day back two hundred years Monday, to a key battlefield from a war fought before Canada was a nation.
He went to Crysler’s Farm near Morrisburg, Ont., south of Ottawa on the St. Lawrence River.
A small crowd of high-school students, soldiers and re-enactors shivered in an icy, driving rain whipping in off the river as they waited for the brief ceremony to begin.
Harper sheltered under an umbrella for the first few moments, but then ditched it to stand bare-headed in the rain with the rest.
The farmland around was the scene of a pivotal battle in the War of 1812, where an American invasion along the St. Lawrence was stopped cold by British, Canadian and aboriginal forces.
Fought on Nov. 11, 1813, the engagement has been referred to as “the battle that saved Canada.”
The prime minister recalled the small group of defenders who stood off a much larger American force.
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“Today the Americans are our great friends and strongest allies and have been for decades through thick and thin,” he said. “But 200 years ago we were outnumbered almost three to one here.
“Yet they won here a great and decisive victory which shows it’s not the size of the army in the fight; often it’s the size of the fight in the army.”
The prime minister went to Morrisburg after attending the national Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa earlier in the day.
The Harper government has made much of the War of 1812, spending millions to commemorate the war despite the fact it is little known among most Canadians.
© 2013 The Canadian Press