With advertisements and commemorations for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 well underway, the value of these campaigns needs to be assessed. What is their intended effect? How are these efforts, meant both to honour Canada’s past and educate the present, received by the Canadian public?

Below is a minute-long advertisement, released this summer by the government and playing across Canadian theatres. Exciting enough to be a movie trailer, the suspenseful narration, glorifying imagery, and assuming undertones of the clip describe how we stood in harmony to win the “fight for Canada.”

Messages like this generate critical questions over the representation of history. Are these advertisements designed purely to stimulate further interest in the War of 1812, or are they to be taken as historical fact? Do the political motivations behind such advertisements outweigh the educational aims?

According to an annual poll conducted for National Defence to assess public impressions of the Canadian military, many Canadians are unaware of these commemorative initiatives. Outlined in an article released by the Globe and Mail on 28 August 2012, these findings may imply that Canadians are uncomfortable celebrating previous conflicts, and would rather honour the sacrifices of soldiers. Or, perhaps there exists a definitive disengagement between most 21st-century Canadians and their country’s past.

Either way, these concerns cannot be dismissed if we are to determine the true legacy, representation and impact of the War of 1812 – or Canadian history in its entirety, for that matter.