by Andrew Stewart
Attendance at Fort York National Historic Site has increased by leaps and bounds in the past several years. We are expecting 150,000 people this year, a new high record, despite the fact that the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 is now past. The Bicentennial was the catalyst for building the Visitor Centre (which opened in 2014) and a tripling of attendance for commemorative events, music and cultural festivals. Historian Christopher Moore writes in the July issue of The Fife and Drum about how the Bicentennial, though not without its critics, has put Fort York on the map for many Torontonians for the first time.
Vibrant programs and exhibits keep people coming back for more each year:
- Magna Carta: Law, Liberty and Legacy is coming to Fort York this fall. The Visitor Centre’s Class-1 facility gives the fort the ability to host an exhibit of this calibre for the first time. It marks the 800th anniversary of the Great Charter, which is today a foundation for law and international human rights.
- This summer, Garrison Common and Fort York will connect visitors to the Indigenous world of the Americas during the Pan Am/Para PanAm Games. The Cultural Village (10 – 26 July), hosted by the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, serves as a “home base” for the games; while the Aboriginal Pavilion (13 – 26 July) will be a showcase for Indigenous sports, culture and music.
- The New Generation Steelband Festival will be a celebration of Caribbean steel pan music. GTA youth steelbands and award-winning ensembles will perform outdoors on the grounds of Fort York on 19 July, and festivities include food, dance and soccer demonstrations.
Our fundraising work at the foundation in support of capital improvements continues as programs are developed and deployed across this 43-acre site:
- The Garrison Road bridge demolition is the first stage in the redesign and rebuilding of the Garrison Road. This work will resume after outdoor programming ends in September.
- With the public meeting held in June to review three design proposals, the pedestrian/cycle bridge, which will link Garrison Common to the Niagara neighbourhood across the railway corridor, is a step closer.
The Fort York Foundation is grateful to The W. Garfield Weston Foundation for their $1 million gift to support revitalization of Garrison Common, including the Garrison Road improvements, and also to TD Bank Group for their ongoing support.