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Relative strives to keep Brock’s legacy alive with matching statues

Major-general Isaac Brock’s descendant Oliver Brock wants twin statues of his famous ancestor built in Toronto and Guernsey, the Channel Island where the War of 1812 hero grew up.

A distant relative of Major-General Isaac Brock says he plans to commission identical statues of the famed British military commander in Toronto and Guernsey, the Channel Island where Brock grew up.

Oliver Brock, who is the commander's first cousin, six times removed, was in Canada this week to promote his plan to honour the major-general during the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812.

Brock was well-regarded for his skill at taking strategic risks on the battlefield, and is often praised as "the hero of Upper Canada."

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He died on Oct. 13, 1812, while leading his troops in an attack against advancing Americans at Queenston Heights – where a large monument now stands in his honour. Brock University, in St. Catharines, is named after him, as are several Ontario high schools.

As the officer's closest surviving relative, Mr. Brock said he feels an obligation to keep his legacy alive.

He's launching a charitable organization in Guernsey to raise money for the two statues and other anniversary celebrations, which he hopes will remind people of the commander's sacrifices.

"There is nothing more relevant, now, than having a soldier travel thousands of miles away from his homeland to fight a war on behalf of people he doesn't know," Mr. Brock said.

While in Canada, Mr. Brock said he met with First Nations leaders at Tyendinaga and on Walpole Island, where he visited Tecumseh's grave site. The Shawnee chief was a key ally who fought alongside Brock during the War of 1812.

Mr. Brock, who is an architect in Guernsey, said he's long held an interest in his family's legacy in Canada.

But as the anniversary of the war approached, he said he wanted to do more to celebrate his contribution.

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"There's an immense level of pride in [Canada] for what happened 200 years ago across the country, and an immense amount of respect for my ancestors," he said.

"I felt that in Guernsey we needed to be respecting that back … rather than letting [the anniversary] fly by."

The Guernsey statue will stand in a central square, but no location has been chosen for the Toronto statue, he said.

He's working with Canadian sculptor Adrienne Alison, who has already made a maquette of the statues.

She said they will be crafted out of bronze and stand about the same height as the general, who was 6-foot-3.

"He was an amazing strategist and did a lot with very little," she said.

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"Brock was the one true hero that came out of that war."

Mr. Brock said he's also designed a commemorative coin featuring the major-general, which he plans to sell to raise money for the statues and other projects to honour his ancestor in Guernsey and Canada.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Kim Mackrael has been a reporter for The Globe and Mail since 2011. She joined the Ottawa bureau Sept. 2012. More

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