Canadian defence policy has been largely neglected by historians except as a problem related to constitutional and political development. Dr. Hitsman repairs this neglect in his study of the military aspects of the defence of Canada, from the British Conquest to the withdrawal of the British garrison. His investigation demolishes a number of myths which have sprung up in this era of Canadian history. For example, in his examination of the military arrangements of the British in Canada Dr. Hitsman points out that, contrary to established belief, Guy Carleton, the last officer of the British Army to hold the appointment of Commander-in-Chief in North America, did more than just muddle through when Americans invaded Canada in 1775. This and many other misconceptions are corrected in this lucid study.
After a brief introductory section on the problems of defence and attack during the period of the Conquest, there follows a coherent and intelligent account of the military aspects of Canadian defence after 1760: the geographical factors in strategy, the degree of potential danger, the men and resources available, and the policies pursued by the British government and its agents in Canada. The attitudes and behaviour of both English-speaking and French Canadians are also examined in their relationship to British rule.
This book presents the facts about Canadian defence policy from original sources. Basing his study on Admiralty, Colonial and War Office papers, Dr. Hitsman reveals a remarkable ability for finding the appropriate document to illustrate each stage in the development in defence planning. His personal knowledge of army organization and his ability to make his way easily through military reports help to make this study an important contribution to Canadian history and scholarship.