05/14/2012 10:28 EDT | Updated 07/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Campaign on to name bridge after 1st War of 1812 skirmish

A campaign is on to rename an Essex County bridge in honour of some little-known figures from the War of 1812.

The bridge where County Road 20 crosses River Canard, just south of Windsor, Ont., is the site where the Americans faced the British for the first time in the war. It featured 280 Americans versus two British soldiers.

Only a handful of people know the names James Hancock and John Dean, let alone what they did.

A plaque that commemorates the bridge doesn't mention their names. It only states there was a sentry there.

Ron Lapointe gives tours of the River Canard. While doing research he realized the importance the two men had in the Skirmish at River Canard.

"The first one to die in the whole war died right here," Lapointe said of Hancock. "He was killed by the Americans and John Dean was taken prisoner.

"It's a very significant event. The Americans captured the bridge but they retreated back to Sandwich that day. Had they kept on going they probably would have taken Fort Malden."

Lapointe is asking Amherstburg council to have the bridge renamed after the two soldiers.

"It will make it a historical tourist destination now because there's a lot of people interested in these events," Lapointe said. "Even Americans are actually blown away by this stuff."

Amherstburg Coun. Carolyn Davies likes the name change.

"It brings a human component to it. It's not just the skirmish at River Canard it defines it more specifically," she said.

The bridge that stands today isn't the actual bridge where the battle was fought.

"200 years ago, there would've been an old wooden bridge here that was used by the Indians and the soldiers and the settlers, and that bridge was the one that was defended by Hancock and Dean," Lapointe said.

The plan is to have the bridge renamed on July 16, the day the two men fought the the battle.