Date01 January 2018
AuthorIrish, Maureen


April 12, 2018

I am deeply honored to receive this Award, which celebrates the energy, optimism, foresight, and good judgment of Professor Sidney Picker, the founder of the Canada-United States Law Institute, at this 42nd Annual Conference. Conferences over the years have examined many aspects of Canada-U.S. relations, such as energy, trade, environment, investment, dispute settlement, security, human rights, climate change, border management, intellectual property, technology, among others.

Two years ago, at the 40th Annual Conference, Rosemary McCarney, Canadian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, received the Sidney Picker Award. In her remarks, she spoke of borders "thick and thin" (1) and discussed the friendship and cooperation between our two countries as we face worldwide challenges such as arms control, human displacement and threats to global health. I am going to start off by talking about a time when we were not so friendly; a time when we were at war across Lake Erie.

The United States declared war on Canada in June of 1812. In July, an American force initially crossed into British territory at Amherstburg, but the British responded by first taking Fort Mackinac, then retaking Amherstburg and Fort Detroit. (2) After a naval victory in the fall of 1813, the United States took control of Lake Erie. The British then withdrew from the Western District, (3) of which Windsor was the district town. U.S. forces moved through the area and caught up with the British at Moraviantown, between Windsor and London, where the United States won a decisive battle. (4) From the fall of 1813 and throughout 1814, the British had been driven out of a large part of what is now southwestern Ontario. Finally, in December of 1814, the Treaty of Ghent ended the war and the two sides returned to their original borders. (5)

I became curious about what was going on in southern Ontario during late 1813 and 1814. What was life like under foreign occupation? It was not occupation as we might think of it now. This was not the modern regulatory state with income taxes, public funding of institutions, and public services. The U.S. headquarters remained in Detroit and residents in the southwest area complained of occasional raids on private property by American troops and their supporters. (6) It was also a time of uncertain sovereignties in any case, since a major treaty between...

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