The Leadership role of Chief Tecumseh in the Defence of Upper Canada

Leadership is an important quality during wartime. What makes a leader? Chief Tecumseh played an important part in the defence of Upper Canada in the early stages of the war. In this lesson, students will examine his leadership qualities and the details of his life.



Ask students: “What makes a great leader?”  Make a list of qualities that a leader (a person whom others are willing to follow) possesses.

Ask students: “If you were to follow someone into a battle in a war, what are the three most important qualities that they should have from this list?”

Discuss this as a class and check off which qualities are chosen by the students.

Lesson Development

Ask students what they already know about “Canada and war”. Make a master list (may have responses about Afghanistan, Iraq, WWII or many even WWI – note that all of these wars are examples of Canadian soldiers fighting in other countries). Ask if they know whether Canada has ever been attacked? Point out that while Canada was still a colony of England, we were attacked by the Americans and without the courage of ordinary men and women, Canada might have become part of the United States of America.  (If students have already learned about the War of 1812, ask them to list what they know about the events/people of the time.)

One of the key leaders in helping Canada defend against the Americans was a First Nations chief, Tecumseh.

Divide the class into pairs/small groups of students. Distribute Appendix A – Tecumseh, Chief of the Shawnee. Assign students to work in pairs or small groups to answer the questions on page 2 of the handout.


Show students the War of 1812 video clip.

Have the class refer to their answers to #4 on their worksheet. Discuss their responses as a class.



Answer the questions about the qualities of a leader.

Record the three most important qualities of a leader.

Lesson Development

Provide responses about war and how Canada has been involved. (They might be surprised to learn that Canada had been invaded by the United States and interested to learn about how ordinary people helped to defend our country).

Work in pairs or small groups to answer the questions about Tecumseh from Appendix A – Tecumseh, Chief of the Shawnee.


Watch the video.

Participate in the class discussion.

Lesson Extension

  • Research other leaders from the War of 1812. List what leadership qualities they had and have student evaluate whether or not they were “good/successful” leaders.