On April 27, 1813, American forces defeated the British at York (present-day Toronto) and captured the capital of Upper Canada — but not before suffering their own losses. History Television's Explosion 1812 looks at the Battle of York and unearths new evidence around this lesser-known event from the War of 1812. You can now watch the full film at History.ca
Canada's History spoke to writer, director, and producer Mick Grogan about the film Explosion 1812, and what he hopes Canadians will take away from it.
Explosion 1812 tells a broad history of the war, but focuses on the American invasion at Fort York (present-day Toronto), which took place on April 27, 1813. When it became apparent that the fort would be lost to the Americans, Major General Sheaffe, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, gave orders to destroy the fort’s munitions magazine. The massive explosion killed or injured almost 250 American soldiers.
To help tell the story of the explosion at Fort York, the film follows Canadian archaeologist Dr. Ron Williamson, as his team undertakes an excavation at the present-day site. While looking for remnants of the munitions magazine, they unearth evidence of the battle and learn more about the colony's attempt
to rebuild the fort.
American historian Alan Taylor and author of The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies, is another prominent expert featured in the film. He explores his idea that the War of 1812 was very much a civil war. Many people living in Upper Canada at the time were American loyalists (or late-loyalists), and so the conflict had the effect of pitting family, friends, and neighbours against each other.
As a newcomer to Canada himself, producer Mick Grogan hopes that the film resonates with all Canadians — no matter where they were born.
"If you knew nothing about the 1812 war before you watch it, you won't know everything about it,but you'll have a glimpse into why we should care," Mick says.
Above photos courtesy of History Television.