Stephen Otto, who received the 2009 Special Achievement Award from Heritage Toronto yesterday evening at the Carlu Auditorium, announced to an audience of about 1000 people a donation of $250,000 to the Fort York Foundation. Recently established as a charitable body in Canada, the Fort York Foundation is pleased to accept this generous leading gift for its campaign to raise $6 million dollars from the private sector for the revitalization of Fort York National Historic Site.

Mr. Otto surprised the audience when he said, “I am proud to accept this award as it gives me the chance to speak for a moment about the wonderful changes going on at Fort York, Toronto’s birthplace. We will see the historic fort revitalized, a new Visitor Centre constructed outside the ramparts, and the grounds transformed into a new 41-acre park. I invite Torontonians to join me and become stewards for these important developments.”

To the delight of last night’s audience, Mr Otto added, “I wouldn’t challenge all of you to contribute to this wonderful project if I wasn’t prepared to do so myself. Tonight I announce that I will contribute a quarter of a million dollars to help revitalise Fort York.”

Mr Otto, an independent historian, writer and leading advocate for the preservation and promotion of Toronto’s built and documentary heritage, retired from a distinguished career as founding head of heritage conservation in the Ontario Ministry of Culture. As a founder of The Friends of Fort York in 1994, Mr Otto has a long connection with the site.