April 28 1812 John Askin Father of his Country

On April 28 1812, John Askin wrote to his son Charles telling him what was being done in Upper Canada to prepare for the war that everyone now expects. John Askin was a fur trader, office holder and militia officer in Upper Canada. Askin also had quite a number of children. He had three children with an native woman that he kept as a slave,  Manette or Monette. He freed her in 1766. He also had nine children with his wife Marie-Archange Barthe.  David R. Farrell notes, "During the War of 1812 Askin had four sons, two sons-in-law, and ten grandchildren fighting for the British and one son-in-law for the Americans. As his health failed, his son Charles took over responsibility for the family estate and Askin died at the age of 76." Askin is an ideal candidate to be accorded the honour of being a Canadian father of his country in every sense of the word including the American son-in-law. 

The letter is can be found here and is reproduced below.

Strabane April the 28th 1812

My Dear Charles,

I’m now two letters in your debt, the last of which dated the 16th instant came to hand two days ago. It makes your mother and I happy that you do not complain of bad health, God be praised, the family here enjoy the like great blessing.

The Militia-Law has arrived, but I have not yet seen it. Indeed, unless on my children’s account I have little to do with it. Except my wishes for the success of the British arms, which can only end with my last breath. I can not comprehend how a man of honour & honesty can ever change his allegiance. There are some preparations making at Detroit, and great ones at Malden for War. I hope it may not take place, yet I dread it much. The contracts at Malden for wood etc for furnishing say to repair the garrison & make a vessel, its thought will exceed 6,000 [pounds]. This will throw a good deal of ready money into this part of the country ….

The Indians have done a good deal of mischief in different quarters of the United States. The people of Detroit, not in the garrison, are much alarmed; Alice was here a few days ago. Poor woman, she suffers amazingly from fear, for I understand none of the town’s people will be received into the garrison. Alexander was over yesterday & says they are now taking precautions against Indian surprise, & therefore she is not so much alarmed. The guns, blunderbusses etc here are all loaded & in good order; I hate to be taken prisoner & he who attempts it, if openly may lose his life; having only my children & self we can not do much, but will try not to be surprised. I advised Captain McKee to move to Malden. There is too great risk here. I believe he moved yesterday. Most of Robert McDougall’s property is on this side. Poor Meldrum I think is much embarrassed. I think him in his heart a true British subject. The conduct of his boys bears hard on him.

Your tender Father,
(signed) John Askin

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