Tim Compeau - "A New Batch of Ships" for the Lakes: British Experiments in Naval Technology and the Challenges of Frontier Warfare in Canada, 1812-1815.

During the War of 1812, the British Royal Navy attempted to transfer four prefabricated warships to Lake Ontario. What was intended to win the “war of the dockyards” on the Great Lakes degenerated into a fiasco. Poor intelligence and communication, predation by American privateers, mass desertions by Canadian porters, and inter-service rivalry between British land and naval commanders resulted in only one ship making it to Kingston before the end of the war. While the ships were fine examples of the technological capabilities of British designers and shipbuilders, Admiralty officials often ignored the advice of its officers on the Lakes and had little appreciation for the challenges of the frontier. As this and other naval projects siphoned scarce supplies and reinforcements away from frontline troops, what was intended to turn the tide in Britain’s favour instead jeopardized the entire war effort.

Tim Compeau is an assistant professor of history at Huron University College at Western University. His current book project explores concepts of honour among the loyalists of the American Revolution. He was co-creator of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council–funded alternate and augmented reality game Tecumseh Lies Here, which explored the memory of the War of 1812 and was part of the Bicentennial Commemorations in Southwestern Ontario. In 2016, he completed a postdoctoral research appointment in digital humanities at Brock University exploring the applications of augmented reality for public history. His co-edited book, Seeing the Past with Computers will be published in January 2019 by the University of Michigan Press.