As you may have seen if you’ve visited the Minto Westside site, we’re located right across the street from Fort York. There is fascinating history surrounding this unique site, and what better way to get to know your future neighbourhood than to learn about its historical roots!
The site itself is made up of military fortifications and related buildings. Inside the buildings, you will find Canada’s largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings, and it was the site of the battle of 1813.
The York Barracks, 1804. www.fortyork.ca
Fort York was built by the British Army and Canadian military troops in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Its purpose was to defend the settlement and the new capital of Upper Canada, “York” (what is now Toronto), from the threat of a military attack from the newly independent United States. During the early years of our city’s history, Fort York played a significant role in the economic and social development of the community.
Fort York saw a lot of action during the War of 1812, when the Americans declared war on Canada and invaded. In 1813 the Americans attacked Fort York twice, burning down many of the barracks and buildings. Shortly afterwards, the Fort was rebuilt into the structure that remains today.
Map of Fort York during the Attack of 1813. www.fortyork.ca
Fort York was designated as a ‘National Historic Site of Canada’ in 1923. On Victoria Day 1934, Fort York opened as a historic site museum. The City of Toronto designated the site, along with the nearby Fort York Armory, as a Heritage Conservation District in 1985.
Today, Fort York is conveniently open year-round and offers a fantastic opportunity to take part in tours, exhibits, and seasonal demonstrations. During the warmer months, the site is busy with ceremonies of the Fort Guard. The fort houses various exhibits, such as restored period rooms and traditional museum galleries, and the site hosts arts and cultural festivals on it’s grounds as well.
The Fort York Guard. www.fortyork.ca
Fort York is another great reason to enjoy the King West neighborhood, not just for its vibrant culture and exciting shops and eateries, but for the rich history as well!