Montreal’s 1812 war hero gets his due

Canada Post has officially unveiled the stamp commemorating Lt.-Col. Charles-Michel d’Irumberry de Salaberry, at a ceremony in Beauport, Que. The event, held at the museum of Les Voltigeurs de Quebec, the regiment de Salaberry commanded at his famous victory in the Battle of Châteauguay. Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie, joined representatives of the Voltigeurs Museum and Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Bélanger, Commanding Officer of Les Voltigeurs de Quebec.

“During the past year, Canadians have paid tribute to many heroes of the War of 1812. I am especially proud to be here today at the unveiling of this stamp in honour of Lieutenant-Colonel de Salaberry, a true French-Canadian hero,” said Minister Blaney. “Salaberry and his Voltigeurs are known for having bravely defended Canada 200 years ago, and we must never forget the sacrifices they made, as they participated in building the Canada we know today.” Dubbed “The Hero of Châteauguay,” de Salaberry was a distinguished British Army commander whose leadership of the legendary Voltigeurs ensured the successful defence of Montreal and all of Lower Canada (now Quebec) from 1812-14.

He was born in 1778 in Beauport, Lower Canada, to a prominent family of army officers. De Salaberry enlisted in the 44th Foot Regiment at age 14 and served primarily in the Caribbean, Ireland, and the Netherlands before returning to Lower Canada in 1810 as a brevet-major. With war between the United States and Britain close at hand, he formed a militia to help defend Lower Canada. His group of Colonial regulars was a light infantry unit that would become one of the most successful and well-known units to fight in the War of 1812. Lt.-Col. de Salaberry vaulted into history at the Battle of Châteauguay in October 1813, when he and his outnumbered force, consisting primarily of Voltigeurs, militia, and Mohawk allies, forced thousands of American forces attempting to capture the city of Montreal to retreat.

This was the first of several victories that prevented American plans to take Montreal; the other victories included Crysler’s Farm in November 1813, and at Lacolle Mills in March 1814. After the end of hostilities, de Salaberry went on to serve in the Legislature of Lower Canada and he died in Chambly in 1829. The heritage of the Canadian Voltigeurs regiment is today perpetuated by Les Voltigeurs de Quebec, who carry the CHATEAUGUAY battle honour. The stamp is part of a series marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Two stamps – including the one in honour of de Salaberry – has an official issue date of June 20. The Permanent-rate domestic stamp is issued se-tenant with a stamp honouring Laura Secord, who played a key role in a British and Canadian victory on the Niagara front during 1813. Canadian Bank Note Company Ltd. produced 1.6 million stamps, which are issued in panes of 16 stamps.

They are printed on Tullis Russell paper with water-activated adhesive and 13+ perforations. The stamps have three-side tagging and five-colour lithography. The official first day cover is dated June 20 and has a Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. cancel. Niagara-on-the-Lake is the location of the Laura Secord house. The cover has the two stamps, and an image of the reverse of the campaign medal awarded to British and Canadian participants in the War of 1812. The obverse of the medal appeared on the 2012 OFDC commemorating two other heroes, Maj. Gen. Sir Isaac Brock and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh.

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