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A BritishCanadian Perspective At the outset of war Upper Canada consisted of a loose collection of villages scattered between Cornwall and Amherstburg Most of the settlers were subsistence farmers who grew wheat raised livestock and distilled whiskey when they found the time A substantial portion of the population were Loyalist refugees who had fled to Canada during the American Revolution Many more were recent American immigrants who had been lured to Upper Canada by the promise of cheap land These new arrivals did not consider themselves British and as far as they were concerned the term Canadian referred to their French neighbours Evidently most Upper Canadian settlers did not feel especially patriotic towards British North America Sir George Prevost commander of the British forces in Canada estimated that the militia in Upper Canada had a potential strength of 11000 It is interesting to note that he also warned it might not be prudent to arm more than 4000 Major General Isaac Brock the political and military commander of Upper Canada was also acutely aware of the American presence in this region In February of 1812 Brock asked the Upper Canadian legislature to adopt certain preparatory measures for war The legislature voted for some of his proposals but a pro-American faction sensitive to civil rights quashed Brocks request for the power to suspend habeas corpus detention without trial and a partial exercise of martial law While most Upper Canadian settlers might not have been enthusiastically pro-British they certainly didnt welcome an American invasion When General William Hull stormed into Upper Canada with a proclamation stating that the American forces were going to emancipate the locals from tyranny and oppression Upper Canadian settlers were amazed After all most settlers were comfortably ensconced in their new homes and felt no need to be liberated Many Upper Canadian settlers were neutral at the beginning of the war but as increasing numbers of their compatriots
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