The Creation of Myth and Nationalism

Below you will find the video from our re-enactment of the Battle of Queenston Heights. Thanks for participating, even though it was so cold!

Given what we read from Pierre Berton in “The Invasion of Canada” and from Robert Vineberg in “The Forgotten Man Who Saved Canada at Queenston Heights”, why do we celebrate Brock, even though it was Sheaffe and Norton (Mohawks) who truly saved Canada? Why was the myth of Brock, including his famous last words, “Push on brave York Volunteers”, created and ultimately perpetuated throughout Upper and Lower Canada? Why was myth important then and why is it imporant now?

Vineberg Article


43 thoughts on “The Creation of Myth and Nationalism

  1. Daniel DaiOctober, 2010-12-19From religion to history and reality as we know it, the moments that define what we believe and why we believe in it are as result of moments in history that are exaggerated or even created in order to establish a sense of pride and accomplishment in the minds of its people. Whether or not Isaac Brocks moments were true and his words real, we remember him as a hero, and the victory that followed his death. Perhaps it was to install hope and courage into the followers of the movement, or perhaps even hatred against those who have killed him. In other words perhaps death plays a much more key role in the development of history itself. Is that why we do not celebrate Sheaffe’s victory over Brocks death? “Sheaffe’s brilliant victory at Queenston Heights fully merits a monument to his achievement. However, there is no such monument, due in all likelihood to his decision to abandon York to the American raiders. That decision, although militarily sound, was politically perilous. Had Sheaffe, like Brock at Queenston Heights, ridden rashly into the American guns and met his fate outside Fort York, no doubt the good burghers of York would have erected a fine monument in his memory.” (Vineberg) A realistic victory was bluntly over shadowed by a mythical and historically irrelevant death, but its impact people would say otherwise. “Brock is rightly commemorated for his charismatic leadership in the early stages of the War of 1812.” (Vineberg)”, but his charisma would go beyond what he would have expected. His death played a significant role in the development of pride and honour in the Canadian name, and in terms of magnitude the more mythical his death the more pride there was. And perhaps that is what myths are made for, not only to patriotically portray the people of a certain country but to bring a sense of pride that not only would affect individuals in the short run but extend that pride for generations to come. Many times a hero is what a country or a population need to motivate its people to move forward and to aspire to be. Although these myths may spew out fake characteristics and unsought out ideals, it is the hope that people aspire from these myths to acquire and develop these ideals in ways we once celebrated them before.Stories read to us by our parents, taught us morals, warned us of shortcomings and developed our ways of thinking and in this way myths play the same role to its people as well. A moral, a reason and a motivator make our myths and these myths make our country and its people to a certain extent.

  2. Throughout the history of human being we have witnessed people become legend through an idea called a "myth". A myth, defined as "a traditional story accepted as history; serves to explain the world view of a people, is what we as human create to explain certain things. As humans we tend to be picky and specific. We don't allow details to slip from events that have occurred and we tend to amp ideas to fit our liking. For example the myth of the werewolf, basically what the myth is is that if you were to go into a forest at night there is a chance that a human looking wolf could get you. Now normally the most logical reason of not going into a forest at night is because you can easily get lost, but due to human nature we also tend to want to get our way so we dramatize things to make people listen. If you told someone that they shouldn't go into a forest because it is dark they would probably say ok. But if you told them if you go into the forest at night an a wolf man was there they would probably be frightened and avoid doing it. This is one reason we create myths. So the idea gets through a persons head. Sure we could have said the British people fended off the Americans and we protected the place that eventually became Canada. But that event would have just fallen into the other thousands of things that the British have done. We create these myths so people understand the significance of the events. So they understand that the Battle of Queenston Heights wasn't just another victory. We create this hero out of Isaac Brock so people would have hope about things or they would understand things better. We credit Brock only because of who he was not what he did. Isaac Brock was a General of the Army, a figure head. In history we tend to give credit to the people that have all the control. In class we have been looking at many revolutions. One of them is the Cuban Revolution, where Fidel Castro overthrew Batista and his corrupt government. We give the credit to Fidel Castro but in reality he was just a fraction of the people who fought with him. If Fidel Castro went by himself and defeated the Cuban army I could see a reason why people would give him credit but he was only one person. As we see in this example humans need to give one person credit or else we can't explain events. I believe the reasoning behind the quote "Push on my brave York volunteers" was because it is what puts Isaac Brock, the myth, a part from others. If you were to ask an educated person where the quote came from they would probably say it is something Isaac Brock said. We have created this myth because it makes Isaac Brock sound better and it creates a likable feeling towards him. People could argue that Isaac Brock was an amazing general and he always kept fighting even before he died just because it sounds good. For all we know everything we know about history could be dramatically enhanced to fit the likes of us humans. We know Isaac Brock was shot in the heart so it's literally impossible for him to have said anything yet people will still argue he did. Why? Because it fits their likes. What we learn in history seems completely different comparing to how the world functions today. We find it harder and harder to create heroes and myths because the media tends to destroy them. Thats why these myths are so important to us today. Because it's difficult to create our own myths that give people hope. So we rely on these ridiculous myths where people with led in their hearts are worried about their volunteers. Myths in a way give us a strange feeling of hope, a feeling that there is something bigger than ourselves even though some myths can be overdrawn we still believe them because it gives us reason to do things.

  3. American History Allen LiuThe Battle of Queenston Heights The Conception of Myth and Recognition in the Past and in Today:The classic intent of a myth is really to perpetuate the ideals of a race, nation, or civilization. It is to establish a sense of pride for a certain group of individuals and most often the myths are told by those who are in power. The age-old societies of this world differ not much from today’s, whereby, fame and success mean everything. Thus, everyone and everything would want to their legacies of success to be carried on into the future and never forgotten. However, in this process minor figures really hold no water, in many descriptions and re-telling of events. It resembles an account of history written by the victors as we often see today. Simply, this is how society and human nature functions. The essence of recognition comes with social and political standards, and this is very much the case for Isaac Brock and his glorification over that of Sheaffe and the Mohawks.Isaac Brock, as stated by Robert Vineberg, is such that “Every Canadian who has learned about the Battle of Queenston Heights knows that Major-General Sir Isaac Brock died a valiant charge that defeated the Americans” (Vineberg). We see here, how Brock, was the esteemed militant warrior and without doubt this is something we as Canadians should be proud of. Most often, it is the generals who are remembered and even the soldiers are just soldiers. The ranks of the military operate in this fashion and if something is to be written about, the general receives the credit. In perspective, if we look at this realistically some flaw can be seen. We have to ask ourselves, was it truly the general who accomplished the victory or was it really the backbone of the military. And in most cases, it is the latter. When we examine the Sheaffe’s victory at Queenston heights on the otherhand, the lack of credit to those of insufficient social and political status is recognized. Canadians knew by all accounts that Sheaffe and his Mohawk Indians were the critical turning point of the Battle of Queenston heights. The Canadians knew that without him, Canada could have been America today. Then why is it that we do not hold him in the same gratitude as Isaac Brock. It is because Sheaffe was an aboriginal and even then, social injustice was being done. There was racism, there was discrimination because even though Sheaffe won the battle, he was seen as second to the Canadian soldiers. He was seen inferior to some degree and Canadians did not want the future of Canada to glorify him. We have propaganda—the wanting to spread one’s own power and to strip others of theirs. Human nature, we cannot argue is greedy and ambitious. A hero, back then and today, is one who is widely recognized and publicized and here media comes into play. Who do we remember today? We remember those individuals who media has made a big deal about and because of this the minor, but critical figures are often forgotten. This, in part, is a major flaw in society. It is a concept that has been imbedded into us since our childhood and so, myth even today is viewed from a perspective that may not be right. Today, if we examine the things that we really care about, they comprise of things that have great publicity. We are slaves to the media of the 21st century and we believe almost every word that comes from important people—a celebrity, movie stars—because these are the people society has come to idolize. It was the same for the myth of Isaac Brock and Sheafe. Who did Canadians know more about? They knew about Brock, just like how we know more about Justin Beiber than we do about the geological events that spur on global warming. We, in society, have become ravenous for the information and interests that pertains to us now. We care not for the bigger issues of the day, and as a result, and conception of people who make a true difference in this world is skewed—just how the views of Sheaffe were not recognized to the extent that they should have been.

  4. Greetings from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!This whole question of myth and nationalism is a critical one that historians have been wrestling with for years. And Daniel, Mohammed, and Allen's insightful replies have shown how complicated the question can get!!!In my own work on Irish and American history, I try to take a slightly different approach. The first question, posed by Mr. Henderson, is the starting point: WHY do societies perpetuate myths?But there is another way to approach the issue. And that is to ask HOW do societies perpetuate myths? By giving the question a simple quarter-turn, we can come to new understandings of WHY myths are so important. So, HOW has the myth of the battle of Queenston Heights been perpetuated in Canada?Well, art is definitely important (see John Kelly's painting of Brock's death above). When people gather around emotive historical paintings like this one in national galleries, it gives them a sense of peoplehood–"That's Canadian history," they think, "it must be… the biggest gallery in the country has it hanging on its walls."Monuments are another important way that myths get perpetuated. There is a tall stone monument of Brock on Queenston Heights. Again, the point is to give Canadians a place where they can congregate with other Canadians (most of whom they have never met and never will meet again) and say "This is Canadian history… our history. It must be… look at the size of that thing…"A third and final way is music. Nothing binds a group of people together better than a rousing sing-along, right!?! It is no mistake, therefore, that the Battle of Queenston Heights features in Canada's earliest unofficial national anthem–"The Maple Leaf Forever" by Alexander Muir. The idea was to get groups of people to _feel Canadian_ by singing songs together that perpetuated myths about their shared past that included reference to battles like Queenston Heights.In this way, your youtube video of the battle is more than a funny outdoor excursion one afternoon. Was the video, in its own way, perpetuating the myth? Or, by being posted on a _global_ network like the web, was it subverting Canadian nationalism by inviting others around the world to share in the story?Have fun chewing these questions over! I look forward to following the discussion on this blog. Cian T. McMahon

  5. Brock was supposed to be this amazing general that trained a ton of officers to be ready for a moment like this. However, Brock didn't even want to be in Canada. He had little to no interest in this new land. So we know Brock was supposedly this amazing hero in the war and to make it even better, people believe that he was the one to pull out the win! This was obviously not the case. Sheaffe was the officer at Queenston Heights who was mainly responsible for the win. But we do not acknowledge him for it. When Brock died, the Canadians were losing the war. But being the highest rank, he was seen as the most superior. A person that trained our nation and led us into battle and victory, is truly someone that can be celebrated and named a hero. This myth was created and still stands to date, that Brock, even though he was at a losing state when he died, led this country to victory. A myth, defined by the Princeton University, is a traditional story accepted as history; serves to explain the world view of a people. It says nothing about truth. This story is accepted as to be true by the large population of Canada. However, this mistaken celebration of Brock is not bad. It has created a kind of culture, pride and honour. This country had pretty much no heroes up to this point and a hero seemed to be something that they needed to motivate them. This country has developed to be one of the best countries in the world because of the motivation it has had to progress in the world. Heroes have been created from true stories and from some false ones but these heroes provide the country with a sense of pride and make our country what it is today.

  6. In order to look at this question in the right light, I believe that the first step would be to define and establish what a myth is. A myth could be defined as a story that is accepted as history where the hero is held in excessive admiration or awe. In the case of the legend or myth of Isaac Brock, he is taken into a higher degree than what historians now seem to believe was actually true. It was said that Isaac Brock was the savior of Canada even though it was really Sheaffe and Norton that saved the day during the battle of Queenston Heights. It was also said that as he was dying, he managed to utter a very insparational quote, almost almost like one in novels and movies. This also leads to different hints about what makes people believe myths and what makes people create them in the first place. Now for the question of how and why myths are created. The main point of a myth is to tell a story. This story will generally be considered to be true by many people and soon enough could be accepted as a historical fact. Myths can be created from many aspects of culture, as Dr. Mcmahon has said. The significance of this is that this means that the way people view the world and the way art, music, and, generally culture, are portrayed, would have an impact on how myths are created. This would mean that whatever seams to be accepted as a part of culture at the moment of the arrival of the story, would have a huge impact on how the myth is further created, and maybe even changed. For example, relating back to Isaac Brock, the dominant culture in North America at that time was British or, even more generally, caucasian, white people. In no way were the Aboriginals influencing a huge part of culture, as they were not the dominant culture in that area at that time. This would mean that the way the British viewed their way of life would refelct on the myths and stories being told in the past that help describe life at that time. Because of this, Isaac Brock was viewed as a hero. Not only was he already well known, but he was also a British leader and was described as a fearless warrior (again, probably from British influence). So, to sum up, the reason the myth revolves around Isaac Brock rather than the aboriginals who actually saved Canada is because the culture was more dominantly British and so the British leader was given the title of hero.Now for the question of why myths are so important today, and also in the past. As already stated before, myths generally tell a story. Although this story may not be historically correct, it may still provide some significance from the way this story gets changed in order to praise a certain man, taken to be a hero. Myths can provide insight as to what lead the myth to become the way it is. Myths do not just spring on their own, they may first start off being historically correct but later on they may slowly deviate more and more in order to fulfill the needs of the people. What these needs are are intirely based on the culture at which the myth gets created. This fact may lead historians into finding out what was important to the people at that time and this may provide insight on what people were like back then and what they are like now. It is clear that from the way Isaac Brock was portrayed, he was considered a hero. From this, one can assume that one of the needs of the people at that time was a hero. A hero can be someone to identify a certain nationality or someone that can create a sense of empowerment within the people which then can have an effect on culture. In general, myths have a lot to do with nationalism and a sense of pride, which every nation strives for. This affects us in the 21st century because the same way it did in the 1800s. Although a myth may not be entirely correct in its accuracy, it is the fact that people take it to be the truth that will have an effect on a country. This just goes to show that beleiving in something can be just as important as knowing the truth.

  7. To answer the questions proposed by professor McMahon, I think societies create myths to instil patriotic thoughts into the minds of its citizens and to give that Nation an identity. Before the War of 1812, Canada was rather unorganized with two main regions of Upper Canada and Lower Canada. The Americans looked at Canada as a weak and unorganized Nation that could be overtook easily. Thomas Jefferson said it best that taking Canada would be "a mere matter of marching." Canada had no identity and as far as the Americans were concerned was a region that would be in their control in the future. However, this was clearly not the case. If it wasn't for the heroics of Norton and his men, and Sheaffe, Canada could have very easily been an American region today.Of course these two groups are not recognized for saving Canada from the invading Americans, rather we are led to believe that it was Brock that saved the Nation. Brock did play a big role in preparing Canada for the American invasion. However, when given a little more detail about Brock’s actual efforts in the war it is clear that he is not the hero he is widely renown as today. Brock did not want to be in Canada at the time, but would have much rather been back in Britain. He led a rather unsuccessful charge to take back Queenston at the Battle of Queenston Heights, only to be bailed out by Norton and his men. And to top it all off Brock is known to have said “Push on brave York Volunteers”, which was proven scientifically impossible. So why do we celebrate Brock as a Canadian war hero? I think that we celebrate Brock as a war hero because of the way our American counterparts celebrate their heroes. Look at the United States today, they have so many different days that honour their heroes. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Independence Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, the list goes on and on. The holidays get quite overwhelming as Americans continually honour their heroes. But, when we step back and look at Canadian society, we see nothing but Isaac Brock which turns out isn’t really even a hero. He had to create this myth about a British soldier because the only other people that could be honoured in the war would be Norton and his men, but of course we don’t recognize Aboriginals as participating in the war, let alone saving Canada at the time. So by labelling Brock as a hero, Canada is actually put on the map in accomplishing something great. The citizens of Upper and Lower Canada now had something to be proud of. Canada could now pride itself on defeating a far superior army in nearly insurmountable odds. Brock gives Canada an identity. We defeated the Americans in a war nearly 200 years ago. A feat that is hard to imagine feasible today.

  8. Myth is important to history as it adds a sort of mysticism to the subject, of course historians often have to differentiate between fact and fiction. To the general public having some dramatic event makes the history seem so much more appealing – often myths such as these get engrained in society to the point of being truth. Just look at the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette's famous line “Qu'ils mangent de la brioche” (translated to Let them eat cake). There is no evidence that she ever said that however, that phrase is so common and it gives people an excuse to say that they were justified in revolting against the monarchy. In a strange sort of sense people need that sort of drama and mysticism – and for any gr. 11 who is reading this yes, I am referring to Fifth Business. Similarly in Canadian culture the idea of a lone ranger going to the battle field sounds quite appealing and romanticized, it also sounds similar to the story of Paul Revere doesn't it? A lone man riding out to see if the enemy was approaching. Brock's supposed last words also add to the mysticism, even though (like Marie Antoinette) he didn't have any famous last words – he died almost instantaneously. Brock was a leader of Canada, even though he led a country and people he didn't particularly like. He was a leader none the less and how “he alone” saved Canada is a source of pride that unites us all. Pride in a particular event has the power to unite any nation as it gives people a common ground. The fact that the Mohawks were not really mentioned has to do with racism, back in that time Native people were considered second class citizens and so they were never really remembered, they were merely allies to the British and not nearly as important. As well if we give them credit to more people then some of the magic in the myth is lost – we no longer have the image of sole bravery. As for Sheaffe he was really only the successor to Isaac Brock so he's considered unimportant by comparison, even though when Brock died British were losing.

  9. The creation of myth is an extremely important part of Canadian history because it creates a sense of nationalism, that without myths, would not exist. Canadians, unlike Americans do not have many historical heros. Americans celebrate their "founding fathers", and they are well known by American citizens, whereas in Canada it would be rare to find someone that could name more than 1 "father of Confederation".Isaac Brock in many senses was not a Canadian nationalist, and therefore not a true Canadian hero. Brock did not trust the people of Canada, and wanted to be overseas fighting with the British forces in Europe. Brock thought of Canada as a personal hell, that he wanted to escape. The creation of myth allows us to celebrate "heroes" like Isaac Brock, because if we looked at the reality of the situation, with Brock despising Canada he is truly not a Canadian Hero. While Brock is worthy of the credit given for helping the Canadians win the war, he is not worthy of his famous grandeur. Brock's last words (Push on, Brave York Volunteers) is likely a fabrication, because most people would not be able to take a bullet to the chest and still be able to speak clearly. The fabrication of this myth allows Canadians to at least have one historical hero, which gives Canadians a sense of patriotism and nationalism which we all need.

  10. Posting for Rob Vineberg:In order to understand and appreciate the development of historical myths and, indeed, historical events, it is very important to understand the context of the times. It is too easy and very dangerous to be “culture bound;” that is, to apply today’s standards and our understanding of subsequent events to a previous time. Upper Canada in 1812 was a very different place and its people were very different in outlook. In 1811, the population of Upper Canada was estimated to be 77,000 (Statistics Canada, Censuses of Canada, 1665 to 1871: The 1800s (1806 to 1871), ). The people were widely dispersed, some in small communities, but the vast majority on isolated farms. As Gerald Craig wrote, “There was little sense of community and much distrust” (Craig, G. M., Upper Canada 1784-1841 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1963), 65). Furthermore, the population was overwhelmingly “American;” that is, persons born in the former 13 Colonies or in the USA. While the initial settlers had been largely demobilized British soldiers who had fought in the Revolutionary War and United Empire Loyalists, the first Lt. Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, encouraged the settlement of Americans. His proclamation of February 7, 1792 encouraged Americans, willing to swear allegiance to the King, to settle in Upper Canada. These so-called “Late Loyalists” migrated for economic rather than political reasons. As Craig wrote, “they took the oath of allegiance easily and it rested lightly upon them. For others, not this much could be said; they were Americans still, although in the King’s dominions, and expected to remain so. All of these people … outnumbered the old Loyalists by about four to one on the eve of the War of 1812.” (Craig, 47)At the outbreak of war, there was a general feeling of pessimism, throughout the province, that Upper Canada could not be held against the Americans. Brock’s greatest contribution was to rally those loyal to the Crown (including the First Nations people) and, with his early victories, he increased morale greatly. Nevertheless, a large part of the population was neutral or even sympathetic to the Americans and the government and leaders of the British faction, such as John Strachan, were ever worried about the ‘internal enemy.’ Therefore, a need to foster patriotism was foremost in their minds. The idea of the loyal militia coming forth to defend the realm was crucial to this effort. As for Sheaffe, his loyalty fell under suspicion by the fact of his being born in Boston, notwithstanding the fact that he lived most of his life in England and was a loyal and successful British officer. After his retreat from York, rumours regarding his loyalty were circulated as a way to explain his abandonment of York. The leaders of that small, insignificant community could not accept that, in the grand scheme of things, they were not worth defending. Therefore they needed a way to explain the British defeat at York, namely, Sheaffe’s cowardly (in their minds) retreat. By contrast, a dead man could not disappoint them, so Brock became the appointed hero.Thus the ‘loyal militia’ and a gallant ‘hero’ were necessary, in the minds of the leadership of Upper Canada, not so much to create a new nationality, but to define the British colony of Upper Canada as different from the United States and, in so doing, to justify its continued existence.

  11. Isaac Brock was highly respected general at the time of his death during the Battle of Queenston Heights. Although many historic articles depict Brock as the battle’s hero, the real reasons behind the English victory were two people; Roger Sheaffe and John Norton. Sheaffe lead force of six hundred behind the Americans, and Norton had his force of one hundred twenty aboriginal troops launch constant sneak attacks on the Americans. With the combination of these two forces the Americans where defeated and Canada was saved. In my opinion the reason why Brock is remembered as the General who lead his troops to victory, and Sheaffe and Norton are virtually unknown is because Brock had such a positive image among the people of Upper and Lower Canada and people wanted to see him as a hero. This image is enhanced by creating his famous last words “Push on brave York volunteers” which was created to boost morale during the time of war.

  12. I think Isaac Brock was remembered as a great war hero for several reasons. One reason was for the inhabitants of canada. After the battle, When everyone in Canada had heard the story. Patriotism rose out of each canadian citizen. They now had someone to look up to. People living in canada were deeply motivated to protect it. And the story of Brock allways unifies all true canadians. Like Tanner said, it gave them an identity. The second reason why I think Isaac Brock was, and still is called a war hero is because the story fits the occasion. Telling how Brock rode into battle with no fear, and died with honor, is much more interesting then telling the story of a man who survived. There is no dought that Roger Sheaffe and John Norton were important, but no one will ever forget Isaac Brock, because his story is the most interesting.

  13. Posting for Jason:saac Brock was considered to be an honourable general who prepared Upper Canada for war during time of invasion by the American forces. As many Canadian myths and legends have told, Brock was supposed to a gallant hero during the Battle of Queenston Heights and he was the one believed to be in charge of the turning point in the battle against the Americans. However history reveals that Brock was just a general who was killed early in the midst of the battle by a sniper and did not even care for the people in Upper Canada as his mind was set on fighting Napoleon back in Europe. Sheaffe was an officer at Queenston heights who led the Mohawk warriors that helped in the overall victory at Queenston Heights. However neither Mohawk warriors nor Sheaffe are glorified in myths and legends today. There could be several possible reasons for this outcome. Perhaps the soldiers glorified Brock for his short role in the battle as he was sniped charging up the heights. A more likely case is that the cultural dominance in Upper Canada and Canada as a country for many years was of British control. This means that the British people, soldiers, and government would much rather remember a well publicized British general of the time than an officer of aboriginal decent and a group of Mohawk warriors. The myths and legends generated from the British culture in Canada and over the years the myths and legends continued because the British people in Canada could finally have some national pride over an event in history. The myth was important then because it gave the soldiers and people in Upper Canada a reason to keep fighting. The people finally had a story that glorified a person in the war that they could relate to, and look at as a role model almost reuniting the country. The myth is important now because it is one of the only myths in Canada about war heroes which gave the country a sense of nationalism. In the United States there are many myths about people changing the course of history through their actions, but in Canada, Brock is as about as large as they get. So it is important to remember what Isaac Brock did for Canada, not in a sense of accomplishment, but in the way he brought the country together and developed a part of Canadian nationalism.

  14. Posting for Ji:At Queenston heights, Sheaffe's strategy was better than Brock's. Sheaffe was more cautious and quiet. Therefore Sheaffe's character was ill suited to being legendary. Brock on the other hand, was charismatic with a good reputation, traits that are well suited to being legendary. Also, the fact that Sheaffe gave up York to the Americans resulted in people seeing him as a traitor, even though it was a militarily sound decision.(Vineburg) Therefore, people didn't see him as a larger than life hero. That decision, although militarily sound, was politically perilous.(Vineburg) Instead, they made a legend about a well liked leader Brock.

  15. There is a saying that goes “history is written by the victors” and in the battle of Queenston Heights, the people of Canada, as it is now known, were victorious over the United States of America. It is only understandable that Canadian historians slant on history favours their homeland’s triumph. Upper Canada’s population was relatively small compared to the population of the United States. Upper Canada’s capital York, had only a population of around 500 people. This made Canada’s triumph all the more satisfying and subsequently an ideal target for sensationalism and an opportunity for patriotism to foster in it’s citizens that would eventually give birth to a country. I agree with Mr. Vineberg with the statement discussing that the in the minds of the leadership of Upper Canada, the myth surrounding General Sir Isaac Brock was perpetuated in order to “define the British colony of Upper Canada as different from the United States and, in so doing, to justify its continued existence.”(Vineberg blog post) Upper Canada was the underdog and under normal circumstances they would have lost the battle of Queenston Heights had it not been for General Roger Hale Sheaffe, Captain John Norton and a group of around 120 Aboriginal fighters. Why is General Sir Isaac Brock remembered then, instead of these other important figures? The answer can be found in the media’s tendency to sensationalize and romanticize to which Isaac Brock was no exception. He was believed to be handsome and brave, as well it was he who led Upper Canada to a couple of early victories in the war of 1812. When he was killed in the early part of the battle of Queenston Heights, when Upper Canada was losing, he was officially proclaimed a war hero and according to myth said ‘Push on brave York volunteers!”. He inspired his remaining troops now under the command of Sheaffe to save the day along with the aboriginal fighters and Norton as the myth would have us believe. Sheaffe could not be the hero of the story as he only finished what Brock began and on top of all that was born in Boston which aroused suspicion about his loyalty to the crown. The aboriginal fighters and Norton could not be the heroes as racism prevented the general population and media from acknowledging the full extent of their role in the victory. The only party left and the most suitable person for the role was General Sir Isaac Brock. It was the idea of Isaac Brock more than the man himself that led to him becoming a symbol of Canada and one of it’s heroes. A hero that is remembered even today, is talked about in most grade eleven Canadian History courses and has countless paintings and statues dedicated in his honour. Statues like the one at Queenston Heights so that Canadians can say “This is Canadian history… our history. It must be… look at the size of that thing…" (Professor McMahon).

  16. Today we celebrate the "hero", Isaac Brock to achieve a sense of nationalism. This myth helps to show an important part of Canadian history. It gives citizens of Upper and Lower Canada something to be proud because we defeated a far bigger army in difficult odds. With the image of the "hero" we are able to create a Canadian identity to be proud of. But, Brock really should not be considered true Canadian hero. Brock did not actually want to be in Canadian at the time, but wanted to be overseas fighting with the British in Europe. But, he did help prepare Canada for the American invasion. During the Battle of Queenston Heights, he led a unsuccessful charge to take back Queenston and was then was helped by Norton and his men. Brock should be recognized for helping the Canadians win the war, but is not worthy of the praise he receives. His last words (Push on, Brave York Volunteers) is well known today and is proven to be impossible. How could a man be able to take a bullet to the chest and still be able to speak clearly. This phrase is a myth that helps to create a Canadian hero, which gives Canadians a sense of pride and nationalism.The men that truly helped save Canada were Sheaffe and Norton. If it weren't for them, Canada today would have easily been an American region. Evidently they were not given recognition for helping save Canada. This myth about Brock was created because the only other people that could be honoured were Aboriginal. Aboriginals were not recognized for their participation in the war, and would not be recognized for saving Canada. This just goes along with the typical stereotype that white British men are superior. They are generally given important titles and they have a significant amount of power. We can see this today even in our leaders. The stereotypical white British men are the ones that are recognized and given power.

  17. Myths are popular in many areas of the world. and many of it provides ancient details about history, and how things evolved.. For this case it is for the sake of Canadian History and Nationalism. Sheaffe and Norton were the two men that truly participated in helping to save Canada. However, some celebrate the achievements of Isaac Brock because essentially in some cases, he was also known as the "Hero of Upper Canada." Although this is true in some cases, he should not be considered the hero. This is where the myth comes in. He did in fact help Canada with the invasion, but he did not want to be fighting in Canada, but rather he wanted to fight with the British. Somehow along the way, a myth evolved that stated he was the hero. When Isaac was shot, his last words apparently were "Push on, Brave York Volunteers," but many do not believe this.Sheaffe and Norton are considered the real heroes, for they helped Canada become its own land and not a part of America's land. They were not given the recognition and fame that they deserved, because the myth of Brock seemed to be more evident for most people. He was given a title that was not meant to be entitled to him.

  18. I believe that having myths about national heroes in society instils a feeling of nation identity within us. It makes us proud to be Canadians. Brocks symbolic heroic story can be compared to that of George Washington. Washington gives Americans a sense of pride and dignity as Brock does in Canada. Even though Canada was primarily “saved” from the invading Americans by Norton and Sheaffe, Brock is still given the credit of saving the nation. If not for the actions of Noroton and Sheaffe, Canada could have well been American territory. Brock did have a role in preparing and unifying Canady for the American invasions but is not as “heroic” as Canadians believe. Brock is celebrated as a hero mainly because of the heroes in our allies to the south’s vast history. American heroes give Americans price. Canadians needed a hero to be proud of, therefore the myth of Brock was created. Brock gives Canada an identity.

  19. Isaac Brock was general in the British army and was commander of the forces in Upper Canada throughout the War of 1812, and Queenston Heights. A myth has been passed down throughout the ages depicting Brock as the hero that gave hius life for his country. But he is not the only person that should get credit for saving the country, Sheaffe lead his force to behind the Americans suprising them from the rear, Norton's forces also pulled off many hit and run attack on the Americans that sent them spinning and unable to regroup. These 3 men deserve the credit for the victory at Queenston Heights, not just Brock. My opinion about why Sir. Issac Brock is remembered for the victory at Queenston Heights is because he was the picture perfect image of what Canadians wanted to idolise. Also he was a Britsh officer, and already a hero in the public's eyes.

  20. I believe that the reason Brock was praised rather than Sheaffe was because, we felt like we needed a hero in Canada! We do not make many heros in Canada and when the Myth of Brocks last words came out everyone wanted to follow someone and praise him. Brock did not even like Canada but we make him seem like a hero because he died in battle.

  21. In my opinion, Brock was made legendary for two main reasons. Firstly,everyone needs someone to look up to. The Americans had so many iconic figures such as Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock, but Canadians had none at the time, so they created one out of Brock. Secondly, Brock had the qualities of a hero, which resulted in him becoming "legendary". As Ji said, Sheaffe was the better leader, but he was more cautious and quiet. Brock was charismatic and was also martyred, making him a better candidate for a "hero".

  22. Brock was made a Canadian hero because of three reasons. the first is that people think had been lead by Brock into the battle, but what people think is when he was dieing he said "Push on brave York Volunteers" he created a false hope for the canadian's that were fghting with him. But when they saw that the American's were winning they either retreated or surrendered in which by that time Sheaffe had come, becuase of his warriors hunting skils and knowledge of battle they knew what to do. They would shoot, run, reload, come back, and then shoot again. This tact was very effective becuase the americans could attack but every shot would be a waste. The reason why Brock was glorified was because he lead the charge and had prepared for that day long before it happened. The second thing why Brock could have been glorified is because maybe the Canadian's wanted a noble man to represent them. The reason why i say that is because the british in canada had little to no respect for the aboriginals that lived there before them.the last reason and im going to quote dr. levine on this one "if you ever want to become famous get martryed just before you do something that could change the course of history." this is not excaltly what he said but it has the same bottom line. If your going to do something important and get killed just before you do it people would think that you are a hero.

  23. Canada, as a country, generally leads a fairly quiet existence. We're nowhere near as flashy as the our southern neighbour. The US is known for the countless historic figures whom they have put up on pedestals to be remembered as heroes. Now, we know that the many champions of American history were not what the country makes them out to be. This said, is it unreasonable to think that Canada needs its heroes just as much as the US does? Perhaps the best known of Canada's legends is Isaac Brock. As we learned in class, he was yet another of those historical figures who have been raised above what they truly were. While Sheaffe and Norton were the true saviours of our country, I believe it's the almost romantic quality of Brock's tale that draws us to him. A brave general who died as a martyr, and the kind of last words ("Push on, brave York volunteers!") that could charm anyone into making a hero out of him. People are drawn to those whose stories most interesting to us and the legend of Isaac Brock is nothing if not that.

  24. Whether in history or current times, people want an easy answer. They do not want to hear a long story that does not get to the point. People just want to know who won and why. Journalists writing a story want the story to be as interesting and easy to read as possible. There is no room for long explanations or detail. Readers always want stories to be black and white answer; however stories are not always that easy. This is no different than the story/myth of the Battle of Queenston heights. The battle of Queenston Heights was not straightforward. It had many different people and factors. Also, the myth shows Isaac Brock as the great Canadian “hero”. Brock was an interesting leader who had a dramatic death. His story makes for an interesting story which people want to read. Brock was probably not as great of a hero as he is made out to be. His fame is accepted because people are not interested in hearing the full story and are willing to accept his interesting story.

  25. Posting more for Ji:At Queenston heights, Sheaffe's strategy was better than Brock's. Sheaffe was more cautious and quiet. Therefore Sheaffe's character was ill suited to being legendary. Brock on the other hand, was charismatic with a good reputation, traits that are well suited to being legendary. Also, the fact that Sheaffe gave up York to the Americans resulted in people seeing him as a traitor, even though it was a militarily sound decision. (Vineburg) Therefore, people didn't see him as a larger than life hero. That decision, although militarily sound, was politically perilous. (Vineburg) Instead, they made a legend about a well liked leader Brock. Canadians made myths and heros because they needed them to unite people. It makes people proud about their country. Creating myths were important at that time since Canadians didn¡¯t have any heros to idolize like Brock. It is also important now because it makes history more memorable and helps people to identify as a nation.

  26. People like think what they want and choose to hear certain things and forget others. In this case people wanted Brock to be remembered as a hero. Even though it wasn't just him who saved Canada, he was the hero type and so people made him one. Myth is important because it makes good things even better and puts a bright side that isn't there to begin with. Myth is important to people and will continue to be as long as we live.

  27. 1) The battle of Queenston could be the breaking point of the war between the Americans and Canadians (let's say they were), and Issac Brock was the key character of this battle. He led his men to fight the enemies and finally died. People only celebrate him because Brock's death was a meaningful and important event. First of all, it was the most direct manifestation of how the Canadians finally hardly won the war. Second, his heroic death could represent the courage and honesty of a soldier, which inspired the later generations.2) His myth and famous last words, in my point of view, were created to represent the pride of not only himself but also his nation, the Canadians. It gave the Canadians something to be proud of, that's how Brock's death was announced by politicians and leaders of the country to inspire their people and followers.3) A myth is something people create and believe in. It usually represents people’s hope and yearns. It is important because it is a kind of faith. It could provide people strength and the purpose of life. In this case, people created myth as the truth. The Canadians hoped that there was a Issac Brock who died like a hero because they were a new nation in the world and needed something that they can rely their spirits on. The story of Brock definitely excited and roused Canadians since he was known as such a hero who led them to victory. A myth is still important today. Lots of myths, no matter eastern or western, are art results. In China ancient people painted and sculpted for myths they created. Those things are absolutely treasures. Myth also makes people think about the future since the world in a myth is usually beautiful. It could relax a person when they think and imagine.

  28. Historians often have the task of distinguishing between fact and fiction. Fiction is usually more appealing to most. Historical events are frequently embellished, making them more dramatic than they really were because this allows for a larger sense of national pride and a more interesting story. Hystorical myths become so widely known and engrained into our society that they become known as the truth. This happened in the case of Isaac Brock. Isaac Brock is known as “the father of confederation”, a great national “hero”; this is largely due to myths. Isaac Brock was the military leader for the Canadian forces in the Battle of Queenston Heights where he led Canada to victory. He deserves credit for that. However, he is not truly a Canadian hero. He didn’t trust Canadians and, in fact, he was known to hate Canada. He would have much rather been back in Europe fighting for Britain. Fatally wounded in battle, Brock is reported to have used his dying breath to say, “Push on, brave York Volunteers”. This was likely a myth. He received a gunshot wound to the chest and likely died almost instantly. The invention of his last words has allowed Canada to have a historical hero. It has also contributed to Canada’s sense of nationalism and pride.

  29. Myth and mystery are one of the many elements of a story that makes it interesting. Nobody wants to read a boring and predictable story but everybody wants to read something that has unexpected twists and turns and something that can be fantasized about. In history however, many historians try to put many of these myths to the test. I some ways, that is part of the job description however part of what makes history so interesting and engaging is the fact that no one but the people who were actually there at that specific moment know what truly happened. This uncertainty is part of what captivates audiences because individuals get to make up their own version of the story and make it their own which is linked to oral history and story-telling and this is how many myths become the "truth".Isaac Brock was the military commander of the Canadian military forces during the Battle of Queenston Heights. During this battle, he led the Canadians to victory however during the battle, he was hit with a bullet and died almost instantaneously. Despite his major role in the battle, Brock did not have strong ties to the Canadians as he was more linked with Britain. However the Canadian victory overshadowed his political preferences and as a result, he is now considered to be a Canadian Hero. Whether or not he is, is a decision for each individual to make although it cannot be disputed that the story of Canada's victory unties it's people with a sense of pride and achievement.

  30. We celebrate Issac Brock because Canadians wanted a symbol, an icon for what happened in the war. Issac Brock was easier to use as a symbol of courage and sacrifice rather than Sheaffe who used strategy to effectively win the battle. The myth of Brock and his famous last words were created to help emphasize the symbol he was to become. As a symbol of courage and sacrifice, it sounds much better to go down and tell your men "Push on brave York volunteers" than to just simply die silently. It was spread through Canada to give a sense of pride in a national hero, something we as Canadians can take pride in. Myths were important then, and still are due to the effect they can bring on people who don't know the full truth. It makes things interesting and cause people who don't know about an event to actually want to find out what happened.

  31. Many countries have icons that they say are what made teir country what it is. We celebrate Issac Brock not because of the leader he ws but the sacrafice he made. He died in the battle and his last wods are now iconic in canadian history. " push on brave york volunteers". Brccks last words became famous because he did not simply just roll over and die. He was looked at as a hero and his words touchd Canadians. People who know th true story but his myth lives on because of people not learning the truth.

  32. Put simply, it was because we all love a good tale of heroism. While Sheaffe and Norton helped win the war, they didn't do anything that was (comparatively and publicly) dramatic to the extreme. The image of Brock lying there and gasping "Push on, brave York volunteers" with his dying breath gives rise to the notion that war is a valiant and heroic thing, and also recognizes the volunteers that fought in the war. Even if it didn't actually happen quite that way, it makes for a good story.

  33. Today we celebrate the “hero”, Brock to achieve a sense of nationalism. This kind of myth helps to show an important part of Canadian history. It gives people of Upper and Lower Canada something to be proud because we defeated a way bigger American army in the difficult circumstance. Most of the time, Brock was well remembered as the hero who was a savoir of Canada and also by his famous last words, “Push on brave York Volunteers.” However, the men who truly helped save Canada were Sheaffe and Norton. If Sheaffe and Norton were not in the battle, Canada today would have easily been an American region.Brock did play a big role in preparing Canada for the American invasion. However, when given a little more detail about Brock’s actual efforts in the war, it is clear that he is not the hero. Furthermore, historians have revealed that he was just a general who was killed early in the midst of the battle by a sniper and did not even care for the people in Upper Canada. The reason why we remember Brock more than Sheaffe and Norton is because Upper Canada was a control of British. This means that the British people, soldiers, and government would much rather remember a well publicized British general of the time than an officer of aboriginal groups of Mohawk warriors. Anyhow, the myth was important because it gave the soldiers and people in Upper Canada a reason to keep fighting. The myth is important now because it is one of the only myths in Canada about war heroes which gave the country a sense of nationalism. In Korea, there are many heroes who served for country during war. For example, Yi Sun-sin( April 28, 1545- December 16, 1598) is the one of the examples. He was a Korean naval commander noted for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Imjin war. His word was very powerful to Korean navy, and it ultimately made Korea have victories.

  34. I think Canadian's created the myth of Isaac Brock so they could have a national hero. Having Brock as a hero was a sign of nationalism and Canada could say that Brock helped Canada become and country and turn into what it is today. Before Brock Canada didn't really have anyone that they could count as a national hero and Brock was the perfect fit because he was British and the country was in Britain's control so they would rather a British hero than any other race. Compared the American's who have so many heroes and celebrate the fact that they are so "awesome" all the time, Canada looks pretty weak. The myth of the famous last words was used to give Canadian's hope for the future and hope for a happy and long life in this country. Liz

  35. In order to answer the entire questions, I think the first thing we need to think about is why do people create myths? In the study of folklore, people create myth because they try to explain how the world and humankind came to be in their present form; Nevertheless, I don’t think we should explain “the battle of Queenstown Heights” from this way of thinking because the battle didn’t necessarily connect with natural or environmental science. As a common sense, myths aren’t something unique throughout the world. As we can see; every single area has its own myths or traditional stories. People don’t actually believed in what myths talk about because we know myths normally involve supernatural beings or events. However, at some point, they could be supplements to historical records. We hear myths since we are tiny; for example, mother may tell kids stories before bedtime to help them get to sleep easily. Myths create strong social connections; they generate a kind of “family” or “team” spirit. In China, people may generally talk about a myth at a party to change topics and almost all the children stories are related to myths or are the myths. At this point, we know about lots of myths unconsciously, and I believe it is the reason why myths are more easily for people to accept. (Compare to historical researches). Myths reflect the social arrangement of the culture. Most Canadians respect Brock because he died for this country and different myths proved it in different ways. The reason Brock became the character of the battle of Queenstown was because he obtained good reputation through years (and he is a educated white man), so his tragedy enhanced how important “the battle of Queenstown Heights” to Canadians.The Battle of Queenstown Heights represented the first real convergence of ‘Canadian’ factions. French Canadians came together with the English and the First Nations(although most of history books choose to ignore them because of all kind of reason like politically correct) to forcibly reject Americanization. It became clear at the Battle of Queenstown Heights that Canada was to be marked by a greater conservatism, sensibility and tolerance than its Southern neighbour United States.

  36. People all throughout Canada know of the legend of Isaac Brock. They know that he was perhaps the greatest general who ever served Canada, and that he saved Canada from becoming an American colony during the War of 1812. Finally, they know that he was singlehandedly responsible for driving off the Americans at the Battle of Queenston HeightsHowever, these "facts" are truly not factual at all. The reality of the situation is that Brock made a terrific blunder, and the battle was saved by his second in command, Sheaffe, and a group of Mohawks, led by John Norton.To understand why this myth was created, one must examine why any myth is created. The reality is that people need myths; they need great stories. These stories are the things that unify us within our culture and as a race. In the War of 1812, Brock certainly made some huge mistakes. However, he was also the leader of all of our forces and he did die serving our country. At that time we were struggling to piece together a Canadian identity, or a sense of who we were. The legend of Isaac Brock played a major part in developing that identity. By sharing the story of a heroic general, Canadians were pulled together into a unifying body of hero-worship. This is in fact a very important contributor to developing Canadian nationalism. By seeing that we could stop any invasion, we came to believe in the specialness of Canada.While the story of Isaac Brock is entirely false, it is extremely important for Canadians. Having this story developed a sense of Canadian nationalism and helped make us our own country.

  37. Canadian myths play an important role in establishing a sense of Canadian pride and nationalism. Isaac Brock is often celebrated as a hero in Canadian history for his efforts at the battle of Queenston Heights. Recognizing him as a hero however is mostly due to the myth of his success. Canadian History records have depicted Brock as a general who protected Upper Canada against an invasion from the American’s. This embellished version of the truth can be seen as a myth as Brock was not the main power behind Canada’s success and in fact he died fairly early on in battle.In reality, the real heros of this battle were Sheaffe and Norton who ensured Canadian soil was not taken over by the Americans. These citizens were not given the recognition and praise that they deserve. This may also play into the notion that British influence on Canada played a role and that recognizing a British general (Brock) was more appealing than the turth, which was that Sheaffe, a Mohawk warrior leader was the real hero of the battle. It was due to Brock’s approach to the battle and his charismatic, memorable personality that he was remembered as a hero and earned a high ranking position in Canadian history. This persona allowed for a myth to be created in an attempt to unite citizens and instill a sense of pride among Canadians who look up to great heros such as the one Brock was made out to be.

  38. History is written by the victor, which in this case is the British. They chose to portray their Caucasian, male, respected general, Isaac Brock, as a heroic figure in order to give themselves a sense of pride and to define their identity. For the British, Isaac Brock portrays what it means to be Canadian. He is idolized and glorified and has become a significant figure in Canadian history, while the aboriginal men that truly did most of the work are not given the same recognition. If the aboriginals had been in power at the time, history would have been written very differently. Because of the limited power that they do have, the stereotypical white British men are the ones that are recognized and given power. The fact that Sheaffe and Norton are not given credit reflects the society in which we live in, where First Nations people are treated unequally and not given a voice. If it weren't for them, Canada today would have easily been an American region. Their side of the story is never given the same recognition as the British’s recount of Queenston Heights and the sense of nationalism created by the myth of Brock reflects that we still live in a predominantly British-dominating society. The white British men are viewed as superior while the Aboriginals are given little recognition for their participation in the war. In order for aboriginals and all other cultures to be accepted as part of our Canadian identity, history must be told from all sides of the story, and not just from the perspective of the group in power. This is the only way to get a fully accurate historical recount of what truly happened at Queenston Heights and for all of the Canadian heroes to get their due recognition, regardless of ethnicity and title.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s