Historical GIS (HGIS) processes will be used to document, visualize, and share data created for the Shickluna Shipyard project. In simple terms, HGIS is the use of spatial technologies to re-create historical landscapes!

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a form of a database where all data is related to a geographic location – geospatial data. Although GIS originated in the late 1990’s, its use has increasingly spread over the past two decades to historical research and has emerged as a field known as Historical GIS, or HGIS. Historians and geographers around the world have incorporated advances in technology to allow a new understanding of historical change.

Several technologies are applied to transform original documents, such as maps, plans, aerial imagery, and photographs, into a digital form. The digital platform allows further enhancements for building 3D, augmented, and virtual reality models. Applying these techniques to the Shickluna Shipyard project will re-create the 19th century terrain and shipbuilding industry at various intervals. It also provides further accuracy for locating historical features that are necessary for performing the planned archaeological excavation.

The biggest advantage of HGIS is the ability to share research results with a wide public through web-based visual narratives, such as interactive story maps and virtual reality videos. The results of this exciting new work will result in fresh insights into how 19th century shipbuilding on the Welland Canal shaped our region.