The War of 1812: Fortress Prince Edward Island

In this lesson, student groups investigate different forts. From their research they will generate a description and a list of items that the students want to include in a fictional ‘Fortress PEI’.  Next, they will design a fort by creating a ‘blueprint’ of their group’s fort. They will choose a site and design a fort to be built on Prince Edward Island. The students will then compare and contrast their forts.



Begin this lesson by showing the following media clips. They will give the students an understanding of the beginnings of the War of 1812:

Americans and British Face off in War 1812:

The battle of Fort George:

(There were a number of forts built by both the British and the Americans before and during the War of 1812. The purpose of these constructions was to act as defences and fortified bases. They protected the colonists, property and served to ensure the sovereignty of the nation. Initially wooden stockades were erected, surrounded in some cases by ditches.  Later many wooden structures were replaced by more permanent stone structures. As time moved on, the forts continued to protect the economic and military travel routes connecting the new towns. Many forts served as centres for economic development. Manpower, organization and the use of natural landscape features enabled both sides to build forts that would play a role in the War of 1812. The construction of a particular fort depended greatly on the needs or purposes for which it was built, as well as finding an appropriate site and the materials available at the time and place of construction.)

Lesson Development

Begin a Fortress PEI “K-W-L” chart on forts.

(A K-W-L chart features three categories: Know — what students think they already know about forts; Want to learn/know — what students would like to learn about forts; Learned — what students learn about forts through the course of the lesson.)

Discuss what the concepts of ‘site’ and ‘situation’ mean and how they relate to building a fort on Prince Edward Island during the period of 1812.

Divide students into small groups and instruct them to go to the Canadian Atlas Online War of 1812 theme and to read the various themes and information presented for background information.

Distribute the student activity sheet Forts During the War of 1812 and Web Links to research 5 forts on the internet and generate a description and a list of items that the students want to include in Fortress PEI.

Distribute several sheets of graph paper and the Fortress PEI Footprint Assignment.


As a class, review and discuss plans for Fortress PEI.



Watch the multimedia clips.

Lesson Development

Locate and review the information found in the Canadian Atlas Online War of 1812 theme.

Complete the internet research.

Complete the Fortress PEI Footprint Assignment.


Discuss plans for Fortress PEI.

Lesson Extension

  • Create a list of “Ten Things Every Fort Should Have”.
  • Build a model of their fort.
  • Locate the forts of the War of 1812 and map them on a blank map of North America. Locate and label the names of the forts, major water features and cities. Include a legend. Use blue for the Americans and red for the British.
  • Write a letter to someone in Great Britain about what life would be like living in one of these forts during the War of 1812.