As a lasting legacy to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, a historic driving trail has been developed throughout Southern Ontario. Historians, students and researchers have spent nearly two years gathering the stories of places and people involved in the war that preserved Upper Canada. This mobile app will guide you along the original paths forged by First Nation communities as they were later widened into roads for travel by soldiers and their wagons.
Visitors will find historic points of interest and museums along Route 1812 that tell the local history of how the war impacted the area. The mobile app will showcase these sites and the people involved through written text, images, voice narrative, storytelling and music.
In the extreme South West area, visitors will journey from historic Amherstburg’s Fort Malden, to Olde Sandwich Towne, and through to the Tecumseh Parkway, learning how Lieutenant Colonel Henry Procter retreated from the American invasion up the Longwoods Road, as it follows the Antler River (Thames River). Visitors can learn about the prolific Chief Tecumseh who fought to preserve a First Nations confederacy and, ultimately, met his demise fighting for the rights of his people.
Continuing on the route explorers will learn about the infamous traitor, Andrew Westbrook in the London District, as well as the destruction caused by raiding parties led by Brigadier-General Duncan McArthur.
Late in 1814, McArthur led 700 Kentucky Cavalry in an effort to create “a desert between us and them”. Travelling from Detroit the Americans raided and burned the local communities up the Longwoods road and through Oxford County. Thwarted in his attempt to reach Burlington Heights by crossing the Grand
River at Brant’s Ford, he turned south towards Malcolm’s Mills. McArthur and his men encountered a group of Canadian Militia at the Battle of Malcolm’s Mill in what would be the last battle fought on Canadian soil against a foreign invasion.
At the Head-of-the-Lake, in what is now Hamilton, visitors will learn how Burlington Heights was a key location for refugees, traders and the British army, as they used the Heights as a military base from which to attack American forces. The Battle of Stoney Creek, a turning point in the war, was launched from the Heights. This area also tells of the Bloody Assize, where men, captured in Nanticoke, were brought before a court on charges of treason in Ancaster.
You may choose to embark on Route 1812 from Fort York in Toronto. This area highlights the paths taken by Major General Sir Isaac Brock. Brock, who “spoke loud and looked big”, was instrumental in assembling the volunteer militia at the onset of war and was in charge of 1200 regulars in Upper Canada. These men had no confidence in a British victory, so Brock had his hands full getting them to stand up for Britain. When Brigadier-General Hull occupied Windsor in August of 1812, Brock set out from York with a small army of regulars and militia to confront the invaders. He traveled through the Western Corridor to arrive at Amherstburg with 300 regulars, 400 militia and 800 Native warriors, under the command of Tecumseh. Brock and Tecumseh became close comrades during this war, and together they captured Fort Detroit from Hull. Before his untimely death at the Battle of Queenston Heights, Brock demonstrated to his successors that Upper Canada could be defended from the Americans.
Route 1812 has many stories to tell which are expressed in a variety of ways. As you travel the route, you may encounter brightly coloured geometric shapes painted on boards. These are Barn Quilts, and they are a unique way to tell the local history on the war in a way that involves the entire community. Students may also travel to the sites they have learned about in a documentary about the raiding in Upper Canada. Produced by the Ontario Visual Heritage Project, the film, “A Desert Between Us and Them” will be seen in classrooms across Ontario. There is a series of art collected by the Canadian Art Cards that illustrates through old and new art the people and stories along the route. As well, a publication; 1812: A Pictorial Trail; showcases current photography of many First Nation sites along the route.
The War of 1812 was the birth of two nations. People were forced to choose sides, and in the case of the First Nations, that often meant brothers had to fight each other on the battlefield. We hope that through this journey you will come to value your nationhood and appreciate the 200 years of peace we now enjoy as neighbours.
Please enjoy the journey along Route 1812 and learn how the war impacted the social fabric of this young nation.
Regional Project Manager
Western Corridor War of 1812 Bicentennial Alliance