War of 1812 Diary on Twitter

The Archives of Ontario holds the diaries of Ely Playter. These volumes document his day-to-day life from 1801 to 1853.

Ely Playter was born in New Jersey on November 30, 1776, to a Loyalist father and a Quaker mother. By the 1790s, Playter, with his parents and siblings, had moved to York in Upper Canada. He married Sophia Beman in 1806.

In York, Playter worked as a tavern-keeper, farmer, and militia officer, and was elected to the House of Assembly in 1824. He died on August 29, 1858.

As a militia officer, Playter participated in the War of 1812 including the siege of York. His diaries describe his difficulties in rounding up local militia men during the War of 1812 as well as the fall of York to the Americans in 1813 and its subsequent occupation. These documents are a rare first-hand account of life before, during, and after the War of 1812.

His diaries also describe his farming and lumbering activities, election practices in Upper Canada, activities in the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, and various movements affecting New York politics in the 1840s.

For a more detailed biography, and detailed information about Playter’s diary, see our Archives Descriptive Database.

Read his own words about his life in Upper Canada, his observations of the war, and more at twitter.com/ElyPlayter1812.

Curatorial Statement


This project translates a 200-year-old diary to a digital platform. This is an exciting opportunity to bring a historical voice to life, and it presents some specific challenges.

Although many of Playter’s diary entries were very brief, not all of them fall within Twitter’s 140 character limit. We have made every effort to retain the original language, but some of the entries have been changed slightly for clarity or compatibility. Occasionally, we will post interjections aimed at providing context. These will be clearly indicated, and will be kept to a minimum. We aim to present the diaries without editorializing.

Despite the fact that Playter wrote in his diary nearly every day, there are some gaps in their chronology. For example, there are no entries from October 1812 to April 1813. Rather than post every entry its 200-year anniversary date, we will be posting a selection of entries beginning in 1809. These will be selected to give readers a background on Playter’s life in Upper Canada, an overview of Playter’s experiences during the war, and to highlight his interactions with other contemporary figures in Upper Canada’s history.

We will be posting entries daily from May 2012 to June 2013.

The content of this project is only available in English, in order to accurately reflect the language of Playter’s original records.

We are hoping to have a large and active audience of followers, but @ElyPlayter1812 will not participate directly in Twitter interactions. We do not want to provide any statements or opinions that may be attributed directly to Playter or his descendants. However, feedback is welcome, and any questions or comments can be posted on Twitter to the attention of @ArchivesOntario or emailed to reference@ontario.ca.

Educational Programming


If you are a teacher interested in introducing your students to Ely Playter’s Twitter feed, please visit our education pages to explore our lesson plans and workshop descriptions. For more information, please contact our Senior Coordinator of Educational Programming, Samantha Cutrara."