App brings War of 1812 to life

It’s been 200 years since the War of 1812 erupted, a nearly three-year engagement, at times, fought throughout southern Ontario. Now, a guide to all that history can rest in the palm of your hand.

The Route 1812 App, which includes the research and involvement of Western Public History program students, features an interactive map showing a visitor’s real-time location and proximity to War of 1812 historic sites.

“It’s the telling of a story,” said Western History professor Michelle Hamilton.

Hamilton led the masters students through the 8-month-long group project, which included archival research in Windsor, Chatham-Kent, London and Toronto. At each stop, they found painting, etchings, original accounts and even the table at which Tecumseh ate his last meal before dying in battle the following day.

“The purpose of public history is to work with community partners, to simulate a real work project,” said Hamilton, who planned the project more than a year ago. In addition to provincial funding, the group received a Western Community Service Learning Grant from the Student Success Centre to assist them with their research.

Videos, photos, music and audio-narration tell the stories of the characters who inhabited southern Ontario during war, allowing visitors to seek out specific sites to tailor their bicentennial tourism experience. The app is free to download at 1812.myweeverapp.com.

Hamilton said some of the sites along the route are simply plaques in a field, so the app allows for a more audio-sensory experience to what would have actually taken place at the particular site you are at.

“I had to think what project will give the students a good experience, and I knew for the next three or four years there will be jobs out there dealing with the War of 1812, and these students will have an advantage through their participation in this project,” said Hamilton, adding two of her students have already received internships this summer.