On today’s date in 1807, Isaac Brock was appointed to command the British forces in Upper Canada.
Now remembered as “The Hero of Upper Canada,” Brock was first appointed as brigadier general by Governor-General Sir James Henry Craig in 1807. As the new commander of early Canada’s forces, he played a significant role a few years later in the War of 1812.
Brock was born at St. Peter Port, Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, on Oct. 6, 1769. Later a British Army officer, he was assigned to Lower Canada (present-day Québec) in 1802 and later commanded a regiment in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario).
By September 1811, Brock was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, and the following July, he proclaimed a state of war after increased tensions with the U.S.
Responsible for quick victories at Fort Mackinac and Detroit, Brock was eventually shot and killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights on Oct. 13, 1812, during a successful defence of Upper Canada against U.S. attacks.
In 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint struck a series of coins to mark the bicentenary of the War of 1812.
Brock was honoured as the first hero in a “four-hero” series of Fine silver coins that also featured Laura Secord; de Salaberry; and Tecumseh.
The Brock coin has a $4 face value, a weight of 7.96 grams, a 27-millimetre diameter and a mintage of 10,000. Designed by Bonnie Ross, this coin features a portrait of Brock alongside an intricate background comprised of the words “The War of 1812” in both English and French. Ross used various image sources of Brock to design the ideal image.
Also featured in the design is the engraved and painted Government of Canada War of 1812 logo: it is composed of stylistic 1812 typography encompassed by a stylized maple leaf with ecru swords crossing behind it.
Also in 2012, the Mint commemorated Brock on a Fine gold coin with a design based on a half-penny token struck in 1816 to honour the dead war hero.
The original image includes two cherubs placing a memorial wreath upon an urn whose monument commemorates the date of Brock’s demise, “OBITUS/13 OCT/1812. The traditional imagery of the wreath, urn and monument signifies “death with honour.” Two hundred beads were struck around the coin to represent the bicentennial of Sir Isaac Brock’s demise. Raised text reflects the wording of the original, “THE HERO OF UPPER CANADA/SIR ISAAC BROCK,” and is repeated in French: “LE HÉROS DU HAUT-CANADA.” This coin has a mintage of 1,000 pieces, a weight of 35 grams and a 34-millimetre diameter.
That same year, the Mint commemorated the Battle of Queenston Heights with a Fine silver one-kilogram coin. The coin depicts details from John David Kelly’s renowned 1896 painting, Battle of Queenston Heights, 13 October 1812.
The famous artwork is one of the most highly recognized portrayals of the War of 1812 and of the Battle of Queenston Heights. In the foreground, Major General Isaac Brock lies dying as his soldiers struggle in vain to move him to safety. Behind him, British troops, Canadian militia, and First Nations warriors rush headlong into battle with the oncoming Americans, the fires and smoke of battle and rolling highlands of the region visible in the distance. The image is striking for its symbolic portrayal of British troops, Canadian militiamen, and First Nations warriors fighting together to fend off American invasion. Encircling the inner field is a polished silver border engraved with the word “CANADA,” the bilingual text “THE BATTLE OF QUEENSTON HEIGHTS/LA BATTAILLE DES HAUTEURS DE QUEENSTON” and the dates “1812-2012.” This coin has a weight of 1,000 grams, a 102.1-millimetre diameter and a $250 face value.