Canada’s new WMD: muskets

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, which kicked off when America made a  grab for what is now Canada.  There then followed a range of battles that nobody can remember properly, except that British redcoats torched the White House and Andrew Jackson won a historic victory in New Orleans (but a bit late, as a peace treaty had already been signed).  All very exciting, and there’s a super monument near the Niagara Falls to General Sir Isaac Brock, who came all the way from Guernsey to get shot and become a great Canadian hero (that’s him above).

But, let’s be honest, this war is pretty obscure to most people.  But now Ottawa is going all out to celebrate the war’s anniversary.  As the Economist notes in a wry piece this week, Canada arranged a symbolic exchange of cannon fire with the U.S. near the site of Brock’s death to celebrate the New Year.  And now the Ottawa Citizen reports that the government is attempting to buy up antique military equipment…

As part of the Harper government’s push to promote the War of 1812, the Department of National Defence wants to buy 20 complete uniforms with accessories and weapons to costume a War of 1812 Re-enactor Team at the Royal Military College. The re-enactors will be dressed as historically accurate representations of soldiers of a Battalion Company of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry, from the period of 1812 to 1814. All of the uniforms, accessories and weapons must be delivered by March 30, 2012.

So what is the Canadian taxpayer’s money about to be spent on?

a.) Musket, India Pattern (Brown Bess), proofed safe to fire black powder as follows: A good quality, well made, accurate replica of the India Pattern (3rd model Brown Bess) Musket . . .

b.) Musket Sling: Leather sling, adjustable, of sufficient length to fit the sling swivels on the India Pattern musket.

c.) Brown Bess bayonet – Socket bayonet: fluted, triangular sectioned blade, approx. 16-17″ in length, sockets to fit snuggly over India Pattern musket barrel.

d.) Whisk and Prick: Cleaning tool- Hard, bristle brush and metal spike.

And so on, until you get to:

o.) Trousers (or Pantaloons): Drop-front trousers made from grey wool (Melton cloth, same weight as for tunics).

This is a little obsessive… if I were Barack Obama I’d be worrying that Stephen Harper was about to come and burn the White House again…