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Subject > Armed Forces > Military Intelligence and Espionage

Date > 1800

Gold Rush Prompts Border Survey

Type: Document

The Fraser River gold rush, starting in 1857, brought changes to the Pacific coast. The flood of American prospectors prompted the British government to take over the region from the Hudson's Bay Company. Royal Engineers were sent to survey the region, especially the border.

Site: National Defence

The Fenians

Type: Document

The end of the American Civil War in 1865 brought a new military problem. There were 10,000 Irish-American veterans who belonged to the Fenians, a well-armed Irish secret society that wanted revenge against Britain. The Fenians planned to invade Canada.

Site: National Defence

Fears of Patriote Uprisings

Type: Document

The relative calm of much of 1838 in Upper and Lower Canada was an illusion. The Patriote secret societies planned a revolt, to be supported by invading Patriot Hunter forces from the U.S. In November, invaders took Napierville while the Patriots seized Beauharnois near Montreal.

Site: National Defence

Franklin's Tragic Expedition

Type: Document

In 1845, a large well-equipped Royal Navy expedition under Sir John Franklin left for the Arctic. They disappeared, and their fate was a great mystery for many years. Eventually, it was discovered that all involved had died, marching south from their ice-bound ships.

Site: National Defence

American Support for Rebels

Type: Document

In 1838, with the help of American sympathizers, Canadian radicals who had escaped the failed rebellions of 1837 set up a secret society in the United States called the Hunters' Lodges. The so-called Patriot Hunters were dedicated to organizing an army to invade Canada.

Site: National Defence

Canadian Illustrated News - Reconnaissance - The War

Type: Image

Soldiers are depicted during a reconnaisance operation at the time of the Franco-Prussian War.

Site: Library and Archives Canada

Discovery of a Northwest Passage

Type: Document

In 1852, one of the many expeditions searching for the missing arctic explorer Sir John Franklin confirmed the existence of the Northwest Passage - the legendary link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Ironically, the route was not navigable, and thus of no military value.

Site: National Defence

The Purported Russian Threat

Type: Document

When the Crimean War between Britain and Russia broke out in 1854, Governor Douglas of Vancouver Island sent frantic requests for troops, ships and weapons to defend against the Russian colony in Alaska. He was ignored in London, and no fighting took place on the Pacific coast.

Site: National Defence

Renewed Search for the Northwest Passage

Type: Document

During the first half of the 19th century, the Royal Navy made a renewed effort to discover a Northwest Passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Expeditions penetrated further and further into the arctic waters, exploring and making reliable maps as they went.

Site: National Defence

A Final Attempt by the Fenians

Type: Document

In 1870 and 1871, the Irish-American Fenians made their final attempts to invade Canada. At the battles of Eccles Hill and Trout River, the invaders were thrown back by Canadian and British troops. With these defeats, the popularity of the movement died in the United States.

Site: National Defence