On today’s date in 1812, Shawnee Chief Tecumseh and 600 of his Wyandot (Huron), Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) and Nishnabek (Potawatomi) warriors helped Major-General Sir Isaac Brock siege Detroit.
A defining moment for the provinces that would later become the Dominion of Canada, the War of 1812 saw the U.S. declare war on Britain to protect its sovereignty as well as its westward expansion. Many significant battles raged along the Canada-U.S. border in Québec and Ontario, and many leaders arose.
On June 15, 2012, Canada Post commemorated two of the most prominent heroes in a series marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The se-tenant issue (Scott #2555a) depicts Tecumseh and Brock face-to-face, and the two Permanent stamps were printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper using seven-colour lithography. Each stamp measures 40 mm x 32 mm and has general tagging along three sides.
An official first-day cover was also cancelled in Tecumseh, Ont.
A native of the Island of Guernsey, Brock is remembered in both Canada as well as his place of birth for his ability to take command. For this reason, the 2012 Brock and Tecumseh stamps were also the Crown corporation’s first joint issue with Guernsey Post.
Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, led an Ohio Nations confederation intent on stopping U.S. encroachment on First Nations land.
Despite vastly different backgrounds, the duo worked together to take Michigan from their enemy.
Illustrated by Suzanne Duranceau, the stamps depict the two men in profile as their facial expressions share mutual respect.
“The stamp is printed in lithography but with an intaglio feel, a technique that gives the two men equal weight,” said Alain Leduc, stamp design manager.
The background of the Brock stamp shows a European settlement as it would have appeared in 1812. Tecumseh is shown with encampments scattered around him, indicating that more than one tribe has taken to arms under his command.
“The setting is a visual representation of the motivation for each man—this is what they were fighting for. And the body of water speaks to the dominance of the British naval power,” said stamp designer Susan Scott.
Brock was born into a relatively wealthy family in Guernsey’s Channel Islands. Well-educated and given a commission in the British Army at the young age of 15, he was the lieutenant-colonel in command of his regiment by 1798. After being posted to Canada in 1802, he took on the task of improving how British military posts in Upper Canada and Lower Canada were defended. In 1805, he was promoted to colonel, then to brigadier general in 1807, and finally to major-general four years later.
When war was declared in 1812, Brock took decisive action and together with Tecumseh won a bloodless victory at Detroit—despite being outnumbered and outgunned.
Sadly, Brock was shot and killed shortly after while defending Queenston in what’s now the province of Ontario.
Tecumseh was a visionary leader and superb orator, uniting warriors from several First Nations in order to save their lands and their cultures. Born into the Shawnee Nation, he grew up surrounded by war. His father, also a war chief, was killed by settlers when Tecumseh was a child. Trained as a warrior and skilled at motivating others to follow him, Tecumseh’s goal was to create a confederacy of First Nations to stop U.S. expansion.
Once the U.S. declared war in 1812, Tecumseh and his confederacy supported the British in exchange for their help establishing and protecting native-held lands. Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames—the only battle he fought in present-day Canada—on Oct. 5, 1813.