It was a war that defined Canada as a territory: the War of 1812.

Thousands of colonists and First Nations soldiers gave their lives, and today in Penetanguishene their memory was given a permanent resting place.

A pipe band lead the congregation from the St. James on-the-Lines Church into the cemetery behind the historic building to do something that hasn’t been done until now. Today, July 28, 2013, they recognized some of the veterans from the War of 1812 who are buried there.

David Brunelle is the project director of the local War of 1812 bi-centennial committee. He says the war between the United States and Upper Canada is an integral part of our local history.

“When people think about the War of 1812 they generally don't think about the southern Georgian Bay region, however we have a rich history,” Brunelle says. “In the later part of the war in 1814, this was a vital supply route to keep Fort Michilimackinacsupplied. We also had one significant battle here over in Wasaga Beach which was the sinking of the HMS Nancy.”

Granite plaques were added to the graves of Admiral John Moberly and Capt. James Keating to the sound of cannon fire.

The two plaques unveiled here today are the first of 1,000 that will mark the graves across Canada.

As part of the legacy of this project a website has been established that includes the biographies of the veterans and a map of the grave sites.  Lyn Downer is a long-time member of the Historic Military Establishment of Upper Canada. He says the time is right to recognize the sacrifices made.

“The War of 1812 veterans have never been recognized and of course all veterans deserve to be recognized, but our contention was most Canadians don't know who they are, what they did or where they ended up,” Downer says. “They all received land grants and they didn't just defend the nation they built it. They built roads and infrastructure and farms and churches like the one we attended, and they have never been thanked properly, so this project is going to place a black plaque at their grave sites all over the country.”

And there are more War of 1812 bi-centennial celebrations coming up in August with Wasaga Under Siege and the tall ships that will visit Owen Sound and Collingwood.