St. Andrews Blockhouse National Historic Site of Canada

The War of 1812

Tension in the Colony
It is June of 1812, and war has been declared between the United States and Great Britain! Tension has been simmering between these two nations for many years and for many reasons.

One reason is that the US resented the British Royal Navy's practice of halting American vessels, and then forcibly removing any sailors that were suspected of deserting the Royal Navy. For Great Britain, this was a way to strengthen their navy in the fight against Napoleon in Europe; for the United States, this was a violation of American neutrality.

Another reason had to do with the hostile clashes between First Nations peoples and American settlers in the West. Many Americans believed that the British supported and encouraged the First Nations to resist further westward expansion.

Furthermore, to many American leaders, British North America was desirable territory to obtain. Conquering the colony would fulfill their vision of the US occupying all of North America.

Now British North America must respond to the call to war. New Brunswick is valued for providing an overland route to Canada's interior, and as an advance post for Halifax. Although St. Andrews is located near the American border, military officials did not deem it necessary to increase the town's existing defenses. The people of St. Andrews, however, saw things quite differently. They feared attacks, not from their closest neighbours and trading partners in New England, but rather from raiding privateers sailing up from the states further south.

As a result, funds were raised by the residents of the town to cover the cost of constructing two batteries, each with its own blockhouse.The St. Andrews blockhouse was the one built on the western side of the town, in the summer of 1813. This western battery would eventually be equipped with three 18-pounder guns, plus two 9-pounders. On the Blockhouse's upper floor, a much smaller gun was mounted, while several Royal Artillery soldiers occupied the bottom floor for the duration of the war.

Cartridge box and belt; coat; bayonet, scabbard and sling, barrel canteen; shako
Royal Regiment of Artillery equipment
© Parks Canada/Brian Townsend, 2001