The Fort York Visitor Centre is now into the fifth month of construction and is scheduled to open in mid-2014. In the meantime, the year 2013 contains no lessening of activity to mark the second year of the War of 1812 bicentennial. This year is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of York. On 27th April, 1813, Fort York was overwhelmed by a 2500-strong force of U.S. soldiers and sailors, who defeated a combined British, Canadian and First Nations force of defenders and occupied the Town of York for a week.

The events planned at Fort York for April, May and June this year are listed on The Friends of Fort York’s website here: http://www.fortyork.ca/news-a-events/events.html

The day of the battle anniversary – 27 April – is packed with activity and exhibits. Here is a quick rundown (for details, see http://www.toronto.ca/1812/events.htm):

A Sunrise Ceremony from 6 to 7:30 am at the Palais Royale on Lakeshore Blvd marks the time when U.S. invaders clashed with First Nations warriors and the British grenadier company of the 8th Regiment on the shore of Humber Bay and in the surrounding forest. The Mississaugas of the New Credit will lead four First Nations at this ceremony, descendants of those who fought in the Battle of York.

Walking in their Footsteps begins at the Palais Royale at 10 am, a 2.5-hour walk tracing the path of the battle, with interpreters, from Humber Bay through today’s Exhibition Place (where most of the fighting occurred) to Fort York (pre-registration requested: fortyork@toronto.ca)

Presentation of a new Colour to the Royal Canadian Regiment at the Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, at 10 am, will be followed by a Military Parade by more than 1000 soldiers and sailors honouring all those who died in what is now Toronto during the Battle of York, beginning at 11:30 from Queen’s Park and ending at Fort York at 1 pm.

Commemorative ceremonies at Fort York beginning at 1:30 pm include a military style Service of Remembrance (1:30-2:30 pm) and Dedication of Plaques honouring First Nations warriors who died in the battle and a re-dedication of plaques (3 to 4 pm) that honour United States Brigadier-General Zebulon Montgomery Pike and the Site of the Battle of York.

Also at Fort York on 27 April, you will be able to visit:

  • Finding the Fallen: the Battle of York Remembered exhibit (updated from last year’s Market Gallery installation) and Book of Remembrance;
  • Story of the Battle of York;
  • First Nations booths and displays.
  • This only covers the activity centred on Fort York on the day of the battle. Concerts, plays, public talks and more are being held all over the city in April and May. On June 15-16, Fort York and Garrison Common will be animated by the best of Canada’s re-enactors, bringing the story of the fort at the time of the War of 1812 to life. For complete updated coverage and information, see http://www.toronto.ca/1812/events.htm.