August 1 2011 – The City of Toronto is now secure in capital commitments of $17 million from all three levels of government for the $23 million Fort York Visitor Centre project. To build and open the Visitor Centre, we now need the support of the private sector to take up the cause alongside our generous public-sector partners: the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada. The goal of the Fort York Foundation is to raise the remaining $6 million needed from individuals, foundations and corporations. These funds will be used to finish construction and to fully outfit The Visitor Centre to open during fall of 2012 for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of York.

Tenders have now been called for construction of the Visitor Centre building. Bids will be received until early September and ground is expected to be broken this fall. In fact, the ground has already been broken by archaeological investigations during the past two years. Thorough investigation has occurred within the footprint of the building, which is located at the edge of a national battlefield on the former bluff of Lake Ontario. Evidence from the 1813 battle, and the explosion of the Grand Magazine that ended the battle, has been recovered along with evidence of military structures that were built years later in Garrison Common.

The curators are hard at work putting together plans for the displays. In some cases the fort’s extensive reserve collections are short an artifact here or there essential to telling the story of the War of 1812 and the beginning of urban Toronto. Loan agreements must be made. Storylines must be written. It will be a busy eighteen months but all will be in readiness before we know it.