The Visitor Centre’s new exhibit No Small Skirmish: How the War of 1812 Shaped Modern Canada is now open to the public, with a few finishing touches to come. This exhibit, which combines historic objects, voices and film, pays close attention to the legacy of the War of 1812. Boundaries, identity and the place of First Nations and Newcomers in Canada today are all part of this legacy. The exhibit was designed and prepared by City of Toronto Museum Services under the direction of Chief Curator Wayne Reeves.
Attached to the main exhibit gallery is “The Vault”, which contains, among other rarities, the 3rd York Militia Regimental colours. The colours were saved from capture during the Battle of York. Restored by the Canadian Conservation Institute, they are now displayed in a museum setting for the first time.
Before entering the exhibit gallery, watch the new introductory 10-minute film. Leaving the main floor exhibits, ascend the ramp up to the level of Garrison Common. Walk through the doors and into the Battle of York – a sound and light experience running the length of the building’s upper level. The battle leads to the exit, where you will find yourself in front of Fort York.
As the Visitor Centre re-opens with its new programming, Garrison Common is also being improved, thanks to a $1-million gift from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. A new, smaller-scale, pedestrian-friendly “Garrison Road” edged with pavers has now replaced the old municipal road and sidewalk. Work on Garrison Common will continue this year and next as paved parking lots are replaced with grass. Work has also now begun on the Fort York Pedestrian/Cycle Bridge. Scheduled to open in fall 2017, the bridge will connect Garrison Common to Stanley Park on the north side of the tracks.
With Visitor Centre “version 2.0” Fort York is entering a new era of interpretation and outreach. As it assumes a larger place within Toronto’s public realm, Fort York National Historic Site asserts the history of our city and its founding place.