Three Apps Every Canadian Needs To See

Actually, Americans need to see them too.

And the British.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.  Celebrations are going on everywhere you turn.  Living here in Southwestern Ontario, particularly the town of Amherstburg, so much is happening.  There are signs up, the town has been tuning up everything in anticipation of loads of people arriving to celebrate.

At the King’s Navy Yard, the artillery is all polished

We have a new monument…

And, across Dalhousie Street, a couple of these will buy you an ice cream cone.


So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s an app to commemorate the War of 1812.  Actually, there were three that I found each with great content and just right to understand a bit of literacy.

The first app was actually pretty difficult to find.  A link in the local newspaper gave a URL which I had to fix up and it took me to this page.

Cool.  A QR Code to take me to the app!  The only problem was that I was on my laptop when I found it!  I looked around the page for a regular link and I couldn’t find one.  Oh no.  Does that mean Stephen Downes was right?  This actually was quite frustrating.  Mental note – never use QR Codes as the only standalone link.

No problem.  I should be able to find Route 1812 in the App Store.  Off I went and nada.  Could the app have been pulled?  I decided to give it one last chance and went and found my phone.  I must admit that you do feel a little silly taking a picture of your computer screen but Google Goggles quickly gave me the URL and I was transported to the website.  It turns out the this particular app is a web app.  But…

OK, so here we are.  The link is actually here.  Parts of it are unusable on a computer as it requires the GPS of a mobile device to work.

Route 1812
Created by a group of history students from the University of Western Ontario, the application lays out the landmarks from Southwestern Ontario.  All are overlaid nicely on an map that lets you plan a driving trip to visit as many as you’d like.  I was surprised at how many I’d already visited.  But, there are more and should help with a few nice day trips this summer.  The app uses the GPS connection in your mobile device to help with driving distances to the various sites.

From my perspective, it was a fascinating look at the various sites.  Who did lay claim to Fort Detroit or Fort Amherstburg or York?

If I was looking for a resource for the War, why wouldn’t I use this app solely?

Well, maybe because the War of 1812 had more to it than just Southwest Ontario!

The Department of Canadian Heritage steps to the plate with this application.  Yes, there was considerable conflict along the Detroit and Niagara Rivers.  If you’ve ever driven the 401 east of Toronto, you’ll see the period forts in Kingston and Prescott (Forts Henry and Wellington) to name a couple.  These were also significant points of history from the War of 1812.

This application expands the borders to show imagery from historical sites from Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec.

This application is a good quality historical resource.

More than just the historical sites, references to the heroes of the war and their significance (like Laura Secord and Tecumseh), multimedia connections to Flickr, a calendar of celebrations, and a couple of quizzes make this application complete.

So, what more could you want than this?

The War of 1812 has a rather unique angle.  It’s possible to get the perspective from both sides.  Lest we rely solely on Canadian sources, …

War of 1812HD
Based on a PBS documentary, WNED in Buffalo has released its own application.  There was another side of the story other than the one on the north side of the Great Lakes!

Navigation in this application is based upon theatres.  Select Northwest, Ontario, St. Lawrence, Northeast, Chesapeake, or Southern theatres to see points of interest overlaid on a map.

Get a sense of the area you’re researching or visiting and tap on one of the folder to reveal the contents.

It’s a real wealth of information.  If you’re creating a little more ambitious tour to study the war, you can add any of the points of interest to your itinerary.

Three great applications to help understand the events being celebrated this summer — and they’re all free.  Download them and check them out!  You might just find some historical references in your community and you might also get the urge for a road trip this summer.

4 thoughts on “Three Apps Every Canadian Needs To See

  1. Cool stuff, Doug! I grew up in London, and was kind of immersed in 1812 history for a lot of my learning life. My elementary school was Tecumseh P.S., and my last teaching placement for my B.Ed., was at Sir Isaac Brock in Windsor. I have done my pilgrimage to Brock’s monument, stopped at innumerable historic sites along the 401, spent summer days lounging on the deck of a schooner at the Historic Properties in Penetang, and had the requisite argument while visiting New Orleans.

    Now, living farther away from the “corridor of war”, for lack of a better term, I find that my students are not as aware of this conflict as I was, because it doesn’t stare them in the face, the way it did me. These might be a fun suggestion for travel ideas for the summer.

    I thought this (–war-of-1812-was-more-than-a-soldiers-story) was also interesting, in terms of revisionist history, and it opened up my eyes to an aspect of 1812 I had known little about.


  2. Great post, Doug, and one near and dear to my heart, having grown up in London, Ontario. I feel like the War of 1812 permeated much of my educational experience. My elementary school was Tecumseh P.S., and I did my last teaching placement of my B.Ed. at Sir Isaac Brock in Windsor, which seemed appropriate. I have visited Brock’s monument, tracked down the marker that identifies where they think Tecumseh fell, spent summer days in my university years basking on the deck of a replica schooner at Discovery Harbour in Penetang, and had the requisite argument while visiting New Orleans. I love this stuff.

    Living where I do now, I find my students have little connection to 1812 – because it’s not all around them, as it was for me. These apps might be a fun way to hook them while they’re travelling this summer.

    I was also intrigued by this (–war-of-1812-was-more-than-a-soldiers-story) recently – I learned about an aspect of the War (and Ontario history) that I knew little about.


  3. Thanks for the posting, Doug. It will really help me on my summer trip to learn more about the War of 1812. I look forward to seeing you when my wife and I make it down to your neck of the woods.


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