Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pathway to the Past - Route 1812

You can put the app on
your mobile device right now!
If you can "get your kicks on Route 66" you can get your history (as well as hotels and food) on Route 1812!  Yes, the mobile app for which my public history class spent all year researching content, is finally available, and it's free!  People have been asking me how they can access the app, and there are a couple ways.  

First, if you have a touch-screen device (any device - Apple, Android, Blackberry - doesn't matter) you can scan the QR code here, and it will take you to the app website.  From there you can put it right on your device.  (If you don't have a QR code scanner app on your mobile device, you can usually download one for free - it's a pretty handy thing to have since QR codes are becoming so popular.)

If you don't have a touch screen device, you can still access the app using a computer.  The app is available online here.  The website will only work if opened in a Google Chrome browser.  (If you need to put Chrome on your computer - you can do that here.)

Article in the Amherstburg Echo
announcing Windsor launch.
I recently wrote a wrap-up of our year-long Public History project, and I mentioned there how the scope of the project had evolved during that process.  The app now encompasses the entire Southwest Ontario region, and includes War of 1812 sites, other tourist attractions, as well as hotels and restaurants for those travelling the Route.  

Our class was still only responsible for the content of the 22 sites we were originally assigned.  So as you go through the app, you can find our research primarily on the sites between Windsor and London (the little black top hats.) The stellar Prelude to War section written by Adriana can be found under the Introduction tab of the app, as well as Sushima's amazing wrap-up, The Aftermath, in the Conclusion portion.  There is also a list of everyone who assisted us through our research and collaborative process (and it is a lengthy one) in the Tecumseh Parkway Development of the Acknowledgements section.

There has been a bit of press surrounding the launch of Route 1812, with events this past weekend in both Windsor and Hamilton.  I was able to attend both, and they were quite different experiences.  

Article in The Windsor Star about
the Windsor launch.
Saturday evening was the Windsor launch.  This event was held at the Mackenzie Hall Cultural Centre.  It opened with hors d'oevres, featuring specially labelled 1812 wine and a blueberry "cannonball" jam.   The official Essex County War of 1812 Commemoration Declaration was read, followed by speakers Kyra Knapp, 1812 Bicentennial Southwest Ontario Region; Jim Hudson, Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation; Mike Dove, Western University; and Steve McBride, Weever Apps.  As Steve was walking the audience through the app, he also asked me to talk a bit about the sources we used during our research, and how we obtained all the images and audio found on our sites.  Even after the "official" event was finished, I lingered quite awhile speaking with some of the attendees.  We were thrilled to talk to the grade 7 teacher who planned to have her students access the app on their smartphones in class on Monday.  This was just one of the many ways we had envisioned our original app being used!  It was a nice opportunity to finally meet some of the other collaborators face to face, as well as catch up with my classmates who are all busy with internships this summer.  

The Sunday afternoon event in Hamilton has a slightly different feel to it.  Downtown Hamilton was busy with people since it was also an Open Streets day, and the road was closed to car traffic.  There was a VIP reception prior to the official launch, with more 1812 wine and ice cream.  We also had the opportunity to preview the new documentary series by the Ontario Visual Heritage Project, A Desert Between Us and Them.  I'm looking forward to seeing the finished project, which will officially launch next year.  The official Route 1812 launch ceremony took place in the lobby of the Tourism Hamilton Visitor Centre, and there were numerous speakers representing the many organizations and municipalities that collaborated on the project.  I would list them all here - but honestly I can't remember them all!  It concluded in similar style, with Steve, of Weever Apps, demonstrating to the attendees how to navigate the app on an iPad.  Perhaps it was because this event was larger, or due to the fact there was so much else going on around it, but I felt less "a part" of this event than I had Saturday evening.  Still, it was a pleasant afternoon of visiting with classmates and catching up.
Featured in an 1812 Special Section
of the Windsor Star.
The Amherstburg Echo, The Windsor Star, and the Southwestern Ontario Tourism Corporation have all run articles about the app.  It's interesting to see how each organization involved highlights different aspects of Route 1812.  Some tout the boost in tourism it could bring to the area, others delight in the merging of history and technology, but most seem to recognize that the whole project would not have been possible without the hard work and collaboration of many different people.

I was also interviewed for the CBC Windsor radio show The Bridge to talk about our role in developing the content for the app!  They weren't sure when I recorded the interview when it was going to air, and by the time I got the notice I had already missed hearing it!  Oh well, is probably for the best - as I don't care for the way my voice sounds recorded (chalk it up to my nasal mid-western accent...)  However, I did screen-capture the tweet mentioning the segment about our app.

Radio spot on CBC Windsor, The Bridge.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I will likely be updating any more Route 1812 related news I find.  It's rewarding to see all of our hard work finally reaching the public!

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