Vive Le Canada

Canada to honour man reviled in U.S. history
Date: Sunday, November 05 2006

November 4, 2006

Canada to honour man reviled in U.S. history


OTTAWA (CP) - A man American history books revile as a colonial-era war criminal, who coldly slaughtered civilians and prisoners, is about to be honoured with a life-size bronze bust beside the National War Memorial.

Lt.-Col. John Butler, leader of Butler's Rangers during the American Revolutionary War, is among 14 people chosen from 400 years of Canadian military history who are portrayed in bronzes to be unveiled Sunday by Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean.

The 14, known as The Valiants, will be commemorated in life-size statues and busts as part of a $1.1-million project financed by the federal government and private donations.

While he gets a statue here, Butler gets a bad rap south of the border, where history blames him and his son, Walter, one of his officers, for two brutal massacres on the frontier.

Butler was a Loyalist living in New York state who stuck with the British Crown when the revolution broke out. After the war, he moved to the Niagara region, where he died in 1796.

Butler raised his regiment of raiders and set about terrorizing the enemy in the tradition of the time. By all accounts, he was a hard man and his Indian allies were harder. They get the blame for the actual killings; Butler is fingered for doing nothing about it.

"When he would come across revolutionary troops, he would slaughter without much mercy," said Arthur Sheps, a historian at the University of Toronto.

Sheps added, however, that there were atrocities on both sides and that more sophisticated American university textbooks make that point without heaping all the blame on Butler.

But popular history has branded him as a killer, Sheps said.

"It goes to show that our heroes are other people's villains," he said.

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on November 6, 2006]

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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