Accomplishments of The Friends of Fort York and Garrison Common

2016

  • held ten board meetings at monthly intervals. Individual directors try to attend as many other programmed events at the fort as their time allows.
  • convened meetings of our Precinct Advisory Committee to deal with issues such as an OMB appeal from the owners of 65 Grand Magazine St. for greater height; Councillor Layton's proposal for a park at 28 Bathurst St.; and the completion of a computer model of the fort precinct by Samuel Vandersluis, a graduate student at Ryerson. His work was grant-aided by the George C. Metcalf Foundation.
  • expected our Finance Committee to report regularly on its oversight of our investment portfolio.
  • participated in planning for The Bentway (formerly Project: Under Gardiner) by attending community consultation and briefing sessions. The fort staff is also heavily involved in the project.
  • invited members of The Friends to a reception and chief curator's tour of the new exhibits in the Visitor Centre.
  • accepted with regret Geordie Beal's decision to retire after twenty years of exemplary service and wise counsel on the board; welcomed two new directors (Mike McDonnell and Tyler Wentzell) joining the board.
  • felt enormous pride in the Fort York Guard's winning the arms drill, marching, and perfect volley competitions at Fort George, Niagara. The Guard also appeared in a commercial for Sick Kids' Hospital. Responsibility for the Guard is shared between the City of Toronto and The Friends who provided about half its operating budget this year.
  • published four issues of The Fife & Drum, full of news and articles of interest about the fort. Some two dozen different authors had bylines in the issues of 2016.
  • received Heritage Toronto's Community Heritage Award, with special mention of Fife & Drum, now in its twentieth year.
  • asked readers of Fife & Drum with journalistic skills to volunteer for our Editorial Committee.
  • our volunteers in the Resource Centre devoted a day a week to organizing the collections of reference materials for the use of fort staff and visitors. Much of the last year was spent accessioning the research papers of David Spittal following his retirement.
  • revised the protocols covering our website in consultation with city officials, which will lead to a newly-designed opening page.
  • converted our Fife & Drum mailing lists to 'Mail Chimp' to take advantage of its stronger platform. In doing so, we weeded out several hundred obsolete addresses and now send about 2130 issues a quarter. Others receive F&D from friends or by groups they belong to.
  • began converting our membership records, including renewal notices, to an electronic data base.
  • said adieu to four members of the Guard who retired in 2016: Drum Major Eamonn O'Keeffe (an eleven-year veteran), Sergeant Conran Cosgrove (six years), Marika Pynn (four years), and Michael Locksley (four years). Their experience and contributions are going to be greatly missed.
  • tallied 80,000 hits on our website www.fortyork.ca, 360,000 hits since its launch May 2012. The site continues to be a source of donations; it enables new subscribers to sign up for our newsletter; and helps new members join and old ones renew their memberships.
  • having initiated citizenship ceremonies at Fort York eight years ago, we continue to assist with organizing two ceremonies each year. They are well-received and include speakers from governments and Indigenous groups, as well as past immigrants. The ceremonies are complemented by a memorable luncheon featuring moose or bison stew, as well as vegetarian options.
  • organized a supper on a cost recovery basis for current and past directors of The Friends.

 

2015

  • held ten monthly meetings of our board. Also, one or more directors attended each public event and function at the fort.
  • met regularly with our eleven member Precinct Advisory Committee (PAC), a majority of whom are private sector planning and design professionals rather than members of our board.
  • hired a summer student with grants from the George C. Metcalf Foundation to work under the close supervision of three PAC members compiling and combining electronic data banks covering the fort and its nearby precinct. Ryerson University's Dept. of Architectural Sciences provided the student with a workstation.
  • on behalf of The Friends and our PAC met with Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and her Community Planning staff to discuss issues of common interest such as the Bathurst bridge, future plans for highly-polluted lands at 28 Bathurst, development and renaming of Mouth of the Creek Park.
  • other board committees looked after Special Events and the Guard. Under consideration were Neighbourhoods and Fundraising committees. Directors sit also on the FY Citizenship Committee.
  • for the seventh year in a row sponsored two ceremonies in partnership with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, fort staff, and Fort York Citizenship Committee where ninety people became citizens as their families and friends looked on. Following the ceremonies West Neighbourhood House and the fort's volunteer bakers offered everyone a delicious buffet lunch.
  • funded the largest component of the cost of the Fort York Guard and Drum Corps of nineteen students. CIBC and the City of Toronto also provided support. In addition to its outstanding presence at Fort York, the Guard performed at Fort George, winning recognition as best drill unit and firing a perfect volley.
  • drew down $50,000 from the segregated investment account we established in 2014 to provide funding for the operation of the Guard. At the year end the investment account remained above the initial capital contribution. Strong investment returns in the first half of 2015 prompted a withdrawal from equities into money-market vehicles.
  • published five issues of Fife & Drum, four regular quarterly numbers and one special to mark the announcement of Project: Under Gardiner, and construction of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the railways to link the Garrison Common and South Stanley Park extension.
  • worked diligently in the Reserach Centre to incorporate five boxes of retired archaeologist David Spittal’s reports, photographs, and papers into our collection. The materials represent an amazingly rich resource for fort-related research. We continue to add new books and other pertinent sources.
  • invited our members to a reception to view and learn about Magna Carta. Tickets were priced advantageously after a generous donor picked up the lecturer's fee, and the Muskoka Brewery donated refreshments.
  • convened a dinner for all present and past directors of The Friends on a cost-recovery basis, preceded by a viewing of The Art of Command, a special exhibit in the Visitor Centre of portraits by Gertrude Kearns.
  • acted to avert an OMB hearing by finding sponsors for a Heritage Toronto plaque to recognize the Immigrant Sheds that stood on Strachan Ave. at the CP rail corridor in the late 19th century.
  • served as the formal client for a visioning project on the Wellington Street Destructor by graduate students in planning at Ryerson University under Prof. Pamela Robinson.
  • updated our website to a more current platform which will support its continued growth, enhance the site’s ease of use, and broaden capabilities.
  • welcomed Jennifer Chan as a new director of The Friends; saw Ceta Ramkhalawansingh return from a leave-of-absence sitting as an appointed councillor for Ward 20 in place of Adam Vaughan; and thanked Peter Zimmerman and Marc Nufrio for their service on the board as it came to an end.

 

2014

  • with our revenues from operating parking lots during the CNE and other events having ceased, our accumulated cash surplus from previous years now has been invested so we can continue to support the Fort York Guard in partnership with other sponsors.
  • funded most of the cost for an eighteen-person Guard and Drum Corps in 2014. Skins were obtained for use in making ten sets of belts, and the tinsmith at Black Creek Pioneer Village made ten brass fife cases. The Guard's effort and achievement were rewarded with its standing a very close second at the annual drill competition at Fort George, and our Patrick Jennish tying for first in the speed loading competition. The Guard also performed and was well received on three occasions at Black Creek Pioneer Village.
  • marked the second anniversary of our new website www.fortyork.ca, which had over 80,000 hits this year, an increase of 21% over last year, and 192,000 hits since launching in May 2012. Online an additional 152 people subscribed to our Fife and Drum newsletter, numerous new members joined, and a number of donations were received.
  • published four issues of Fife and Drum, which now reaches about 3900 readers quarterly. This year’s highlights included wide-ranging research and articles on archaeology at the Visitor Centre site, the burning of Washington in 1814, photographs of soldiers training for World War I, and current neighbourhood improvements. A Special Edition in November celebrated the opening of the new award-winning Fort York Visitor Centre.
  • held eleven monthly board meetings. One or more directors also attended each public event and function at the fort.
  • held several meetings of our Precinct Advisory Committee, comprising three directors, the Site Manager, and six planners from private practice, to help shape the 6 The Fife and Drum recommendations of the South Niagara Planning Study before it was brought to City Council and adopted in late August. One of the most far-reaching clauses added 7.4 acres of open space to the area reserved for parks in the neighbourhood.
  • maintained a watching brief on the Fort York Armoury and adjacent area at 800 Fleet Street. While recognizing things will be in flux as the neighbourhood surrounding the site develops, we are opposed to anything that compromises permanently Fort York's integrity.
  • engaged in ceremonies in April and November, where eighty people, joined by family and friends, received their Canadian citizenship. This year, new citizens enjoyed the participation of West Neighbourhood House (formerly St. Christopher’s), and the April ceremony, which was a collaboration with First Nations, included a lunch of traditional moose stew and bannock.
  • partnering with the City, two new site guides for visitors to the Fort were completed in advance of the opening of the new Visitor Centre.
  • saw the Fort York Volunteers flourish in their third year as partners in helping guide visitors around the fort, particularly on high traffic occasions.
  • welcomed the chance for more people to get to know the fort when they attended concerts and events on the Common that attracted tens of thousands of visitors.
  • agreed to fund partial costs with the City for CyArk, a non-profit organization based in California, to create virtual models of the Fort York archaeological site. The project is intended to document the site for preservation and the model that is created can be used for exhibit purposes. It has been undertaken for a number of locations including Mayan sites.
  • secured two $10,000 grants from Ignite Ontario to partially fund a steel band festival and a Pride festival at Fort York in support of Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan American Games. Of each grant, $2000 will be allotted for Guard activities associated with the two events.
  • collaborated with the University of Toronto Daniels Faculty of Architecture which has designed a computerbased model of the Fort York neighbourhood useful for discussion of proposed developments.
  • after the necessary research and financing, in early 2014 installed in the Great Room of the Blue Barracks the “At Ease” exhibit of more than two dozen pictures showing 19th century soldiers and officers at leisure.
  • following a Palatine Hills Winery special promotion of its 1812-brand wines using neck-tags and point-of-sale materials in over 300 LCBO stores, received payment of $3000.
  • to draw attention to fundraising on behalf of the Fort by the Fort York Foundation and The Friends of Fort York, put two notices in Spacing magazine.
  • celebrated the 20th anniversary of The Friends of Fort York at the Directors’ Dinner in April.
  • provided a portrait of George Waters, long-time Director and unwavering Friend of Fort York, for installation in the new library in the Visitor Centre.

2013

  • with our revenues from operating parking lots during the CNE and other events having ceased, we moved to invest our accumulated cash surplus so we can continue to support the Fort York Guard in partnership with other sponsors.
  • marked the first anniversary of our new website www.fortyork.ca, which had over 67,000 hits this year, 108,000 hits since it went online in May 2012. Some 265 people subscribed to our Fife and Drum newsletter there, dozens of new members joined, and many donations were received. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) resulted in substantially higher traffic to the site.
  • published four issues of The Fife and Drum, which now reaches about 3700 readers a quarter. Articles on the bicentennial of the Battle of York in 1813, on heroes like Laura Secord and Tecumseh, and reports on the new Visitor Centre were included. The March issue highlighting the Battle bicentennial went to about 25,000 readers thanks to our co-operating partners.
  • advertised in four issues of Spacing magazine, capping a five-year series.
  • inaugurated a mapping website for Fort York and Military Reserve jointly with Nathan Ng who has two other city-wide mapping sites. Over 100 plans, all enlargeable for better study, are posted at fortyorkmaps.blogspot.ca  The site has had some 32,000 hits since this spring.
  • held eleven monthly board meetings. One or more directors also attended every public event and function at the fort.
  • re-established a Precinct Advisory Committee of experts to help us take positions on the many planning studies, public works, and private developments in the fort’s vicinity queuing up for official approval.
  • framed several more images showing 19th century soldiers at their ease. In early 2014 more than two dozen of these pictures will be hung in the main room in the Blue Barracks.
  • co-sponsored ceremonies in April and November where 80 people received their Canadian citizenship in an auspicious setting in front of family and friends.
  • held our fifteenth Georgian Dinner in support of the Fort York Guard. As is customary the menu included dishes of the period prepared by the fort’s Volunteer Cooks under the direction of Bridget Wranich who runs the fort’s culinary programs.
  • sponsored two evenings in the ongoing Parler Fort series.
  • added more than two dozen recently published titles on the War of 1812 to the collections in the fort’s Resource Centre which is funded by The Friends and staffed by volunteers.
  • funded most of the cost for a twelve-person Guard and a Drum Corps of six in 2013. The 200th anniversary of the Battle of York on April 27 and the Fort York Festival in mid-June provided them with record-breaking audiences. More evidence of the Guard’s precision and polish came when it won the inter-site guard competition at Fort George in August. In October a portion of the Guard attended the Tecumseh celebrations in London.
  • saw three senior members of the Guard retire at the end of the season: Colour Sergeant Mark Riches, Lance Corporal Samantha Horne, and Fifer/Bugler Graeme Sylvia whose contributions will be greatly missed.
  • saw the Drum Corps’ repertoire and drilling skills expanded under Drum-Major Baknel Macz.
  • co-operated with Palatine Hills Winery in a special promotion of its 1812-brand wines using neck-tags and point-of-sale materials in over 300 LCBO stores from February through June.
  • partnered with the City to develop a new brochure for visitors. It will be ready in early 2014 in advance of the opening of the new Visitor Centre.
  • raised strong objections to a casino at Exhibition Place in a letter to the Mayor and Council.
  • revised our bylaws as required by new government regulations and submitted them for approval.
  • maintained a watching brief on the Fort York Armoury and adjacent area at 800 Fleet Street. While recognizing that things will be in flux as the neighbourhood surrounding the site develops, we are opposed to anything that compromises permanently Fort York’s integrity.
  • saw the Fort York Volunteers flourish in their second year as partners in helping guide visitors around the fort, particularly on high traffic occasions.
  • welcomed the chance for more people to get to know the fort when they attended summer concerts on the Common which attracted more than 50,000 people in 2013.

2012

  • organized on-site parking for a final season before responsibility was transferred to the Toronto Parking Authority. For over a decade our operations have enabled as many as thirty-five students each year to earn money for their education, working either as parking attendants or Guardsmen (whose wages we pay in large part).
  • posted our new website in May. Since then it has had almost 30,000 hits and attracted more than 125 people to subscribe to our Fife and Drum newsletter or join The Friends.
  • assisted through a link on our website with the recruitment of seventy-five new volunteers who made their debut at Luminato.
  • fielded a paid Guard of twenty young men and women plus six volunteers under age sixteen. The Guard travelled to Fort George for the Soldiers’ Field Day Drill Competition, and was assisted with costs to go to Queenston on October 13 for a grand re-enactment of the battle where Sir Isaac Brock fell in 1813.
  • provided Guards of Honour for the Garrison Ball in January and the visit of HRH Prince Charles and PM Stephen Harper to the Fort York Armoury in May.
  • published five numbers of our Fife and Drum newsletter and e-mailed it to more than 3300 addresses. Included were articles on the Fort York Armoury, the Centennial of the War of 1812, and Barrack Master Henry Evatt.
  • organized another successful Georgian Dinner for ninetysix people featuring dishes of 200 years ago, many prepared by the Fort’s Volunteer Cooks and served in the style of the period. Profits from the dinner support the Fort York Guard.
  • celebrated the spectacular installation of The Encampment as part of Luminato in June; also welcomed other events organized by the City of Toronto’s 1812 Bicentennial Committee to animate this special year.
  • advertised Fort York in four issues of Spacing magazine, building on a series initiated in 2008.
  • helped sponsor two Canadian citizenship ceremonies where some eighty people received their certificates.
  • copied for the record photo albums of activities from 2001 to 2011 loaned to us by a long-serving FY Guardsman.
  • held board meetings monthly, and turned out at every special event and function held at the fort.
  • continued to support the site’s Resource Centre by finishing catalogue of the slide collection; by adding to the shelves a large bequest of military books from former MPP Donald C. MacDonald; and by producing the first draft of an index for The Fife and Drum.
  • sponsored three Parler Fort events during the spring.
  • welcomed three new directors to our board and saw four others retire. We intend to fill the one vacant place on our board with a colleague having an accounting background.
  • held a Directors’ Dinner in April for current and former directors of The Friends and Foundation and FY staff.
  • nominated several of our past and current board members and senior staff to receive Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals; seven are known to have been honoured.
  • co-operated with Ryerson University graduate students in their study of possible uses for the Fort York Armoury when National Defence no longer has need for it, and turns it back to the City.
  • continued a watching brief on issues related to development in the fort’s precinct, particularly along Niagara Street and in the Ordnance Street lands off Strachan Avenue. A Precinct Advisory Committee, established to help us, functioned only intermittently.
  • advised the Site Administrator on the placement of existing and new flagpoles in a relandscaping of the site concurrent with the building of the Visitor Centre.

2011

  • invited former members of Fort York Management Board to join us after Council stopped appointing advisory boards for city museums; in the process we secured three new directors
  • expended $160,000 on a Guard and Drum Squad of 28 young men and women to animate the site. Once again, they participated and won awards on CNE Warriors' Day and in re-enactments at Fort George, Niagara.
  • worked with the fort staff to establish a kitchen garden in the northwest bastion and with over 80 volunteers who tend 38 raised beds in the community food garden on the north ramparts
  • published a quarterly newsletter, The Fife and Drum, and sent it by e-mail to almost 3000 addresses. Issues included pieces on horseracing and music and at the fort, the Smith lumber mill (now co-op housing) at Strachan and Wellington, book reviews on Isaac Brock and Stanley Barracks.
  • ran three full-page ads supporting the fort and 1812 Bicentennial in award-winning Spacing magazine
  • held our 13th annual Georgian Dinner where Lt-Gen. Jonathon Riley, Master of UK's Royal Armouries, proposed a toast to Isaac Brock, the subject of his latest book
  • successfully urged Council to exempt Fort York from a study to combine local museums with Heritage Toronto and Preservation Services branch based on the fort's size and significance
  • saw seven years' work bear fruit when title to Victoria Memorial Square was transferred from the Government of Canada to the City, and landscaping of the park completed
  • held a Directors' Dinner for those closely connected with The Friends and the fort
  • put eight more images in process to decorate the walls of the Assembly Room, Blue Barracks
  • held 11 monthly board meetings. One director at least, often more, attended every special event and function held at the fort.
  • continued to operate parking concessions concurrent with major events at Exhibition Place
  • overcame problems in securing an acceptable design for our website, then refocused our efforts in concert with a new designer
  • sponsored 6 events in the Parler Fort series and helped plan a new series of ads in the Toronto Star advertising each event
  • co-sponsored two ceremonies where up to 40 people received Canadian citizenship

2010

  • undertook to enrich Blue Barracks Assembly Room with views of 19th century soldiers at leisure
  • published four issues of our quarterly newsletter, The The Fife and Drum, for almost 3000 subscribers
  • continued with design and development on new website, to be up and running in early 2011
  • surrendered the lease on our office at the Centre for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina, which was sublet for the preceding year because we weren't using it enough
  • operated event car-parking on the Common for the last season before things are scaled back to allow for construction of the Visitor Centre, the Strachan Avenue bridge over the rail corridor, and the pedestrian-cycling bridge linking the Common with the parks north of Wellington Street. Our parking operations usually have employed 15 students on a part-time basis.
  • welcomed two new members to our board and bid regretful adieu to retiring director Phil Goldsmith
  • fielded a fife and drum corps and Guard of 23 young men and women covering 80% of the $155,000 spent on wages, uniforms and equipment. Federal government and City provided the balance.
  • worked closely with the Fort York Foundation to kickstart fund-raising for the new Visitor Centre, loaned the Foundation startup funds and provided five of our most experienced directors to its board
  • continued organizing the fort's books, reports and image-collection housed in the Resource Centre in the Blue Barracks. A scanner, computer and file cabinet were purchased to augment the equipment there.
  • convened a splendid 12th annual Georgian Dinner to raise funds for the Guard
  • assisted with research for a new kitchen garden within the northwest bastion created over the summer with help from the Evergreen Foundation and Toronto Culture staff
  • co-operated with the City's Parks department on the final upgrades to Victoria Memorial Square that have been ongoing for six years. VMS is a part of the Fort York National Historic Site.
  • placed four full-page advertisements in issues of Spacing magazine, each ad being different
  • convened a successful Directors' dinner for Friends, Foundation and Management boards and fort staff
  • maintained a watching brief on TTC's plans for a streetcar line that would breach the National Historic Site by cutting across its southwest corner north of the Armoury
  • volunteered as greeters and organizers to work alongside fort staff and Management Board members at the biannual Citizenship ceremonies, 'Parler Fort' book-lecture series, etc.

2009

  • celebrated the 15th anniversary of our founding in 1994 with a blockhouse-shaped cake; Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone cut the first slice
  • raised substantial funds to benefit the fort through donations, dinners, memberships, and parking ventures; also secured grants of $15,000 from Toronto Culture and $11,000 from the Government of Canada for summer youth employment
  • spent funds for purposes that included the operation of the Fort York Guard and Drums ($140,000), office rental and operations ($25,000)
  • published four regular issues of our quarterly newsletter, The Fife and Drum, including essays: on Charles Fothergill's museum on the Garrison Common and on the making of our model of the Nancy; also issued three numbers of Drumroll, to promote special events at the fort
  • completed the lighting and enhancement of the model of H.M.S. Nancy in the Blue Barracks using donations in memory of our late director, Robert Nurse
  • staffed and operated the parking concessions on the lots and lawns west of Fort York for a total of 59 event days between April and October; began a programs of monthly parking for condo construction workers and overnight parking for condo residents/workers. Coordinated parking activities with an archaeological dig on the parking lot.
  • sold out our eleventh annual Georgian Dinner to raise funds for the Fort York Guard and Drums. Many of the recipes and some of the actual dishes that were served came from the fort's kitchens.
  • strongly supported the City's position on the design of a replacement bridge on Strachan Avenue. As a result the Georgetown rail corridor will be lowered to preserve the existing pattern of streets below King, allowing turns on Wellington eastbound to give access to Quality Meats' plant on Tecumseh Street which otherwise might be forced to close.
  • continued to provide two or three days of volunteer time weekly to organizing and cataloging the fort's collections of books, research files, photographs, etc. in the Research Centre
  • put 26 young men and women in uniform as the Fort York Guard and Drums to march, drill, and animate the site. They also served on 15 occasions as honour guards off-site and represented the fort in battle re-enactments at Fort George in Niagara.
  • maintained and updated our electronic address list. 2600 recipients now get our mailings.
  • embarked on a review and reconfiguration of our website
  • held monthly board meetings and met another dozen times in committees and task forces. One director at least, often more, attended every special event and function held at the fort.
  • co-operated with 80 volunteers who cultivated vegetables and herbs in plots on the fort's north ramparts as part of a community-based initiative backed by Hellmann's, Walmart, and Evergreen
  • ran full-page ads featuring less well-known aspects of the fort in three issues of Spacing magazine
  • joined with the Fort York Management Board and fort staff in holding two ceremonies to confer citizenship on some 80 new Canadians
  • sustained our opposition to the TTC's proposal for the Western Waterfront LRT to cut through the Fort York National Historic site which would breach its integrity
  • had extensive discussion on our strategic directions and the organizational form we need in lieu of permanent staff to co-ordinate our efforts
  • commissioned the embroidery of new colours for the Guard
  • planned to prepare a background report on the Fort York armory to assist with planning its future
  • met with neighbouring landowners and developers to affirm our interest in having great public spaces and well-designed buildings in the area
  • participated through representatives in the work of the 1812 and Visitor Centre Steering Committees

2008

  • raised substantial funds to benefit Fort York through donations, dinners, memberships, and our parking ventures; also secured grants of $15,000 from Toronto Culture and $15,000 from the Government of Canada for summer youth employment
  • put 17 young men and women in uniform for the summer as the Fort York Guard and Drums to march, drill, and animate the site. Off-site they served as honour guards and represented us at battle re-enactments at Forts George and Erie.
  • published four issues of The The Fife and Drum, our quarterly newsletter, and three of Drumroll, to promote special events at the fort
  • ran full-page ads in issues of Spacing magazine to make the 'new' Fort York better known
  • increased our mailing list by 15% after covering off attrition, and made dozens of changes-of-address.
  • attracted gifts that included a portrait of John Graves Simcoe by Charles Pachter, a medical device for the Soldiers' Trade exhibit, and donations in memory of Robert Nurse to be used to light the model of H.M.S. Nancy in the Blue Barracks
  • held our tenth annual Georgian dinner with 140 attending to raise funds for the Guard
  • co-operated on major book launches at the fort with Robin Brass Studios (Capital in Flames: The American Attack on York) and Coach House Press (HTO: Toronto's Water)
  • rolled out our new logo through various media
  • took over our web address from a trustee, surveyed users of the website and then embarked upon its complete redesign
  • operated lawn-parking west of the fort for 44 event-days in spite of wet grass and the Grand Prix being cancelled this year which hurt revenues
  • co-operated with 80 volunteers who cultivated vegetables and herbs in plots on the fort's north ramparts as part of a community-based initiative backed by Hellmann's, Walmart, and Evergreen
  • welcomed three new directors to our board
  • organized a day-long workshop with directors and staff to kickstart renewal of our strategic plan
  • created a data bank for directors on Google Docs
  • met monthly as a board and another dozen times in committees and task forces. One director at least, often several, attended every special event and function held at the fort.
  • initiated a day-long series of meetings with the director-general of National Historic Sites, Parks Canada, and convened a lunch where he met Toronto colleagues
  • formed a task force to develop a response to a TTC proposal to run a streetcar line across Fort York; continued our interest in the design of a replacement for the Bathurst Bridge and the Strachan Avenue rail-crossing studies.
  • spent funds for several purposes, including the operation of the Fort York Guard and Drums ($100,000), office rental and operations ($20,000), and supplies for the on-site Research Centre ($3000)
  • loaned $75,000 to the Fort York Foundation to cover startup expenditures
  • contacted ten more British regiments whose predecessors were at Fort York—only 2 of 29 to go. Most replied with helpful leads to our shared history. The Public Record Office, London, remains the richest, untapped source for fresh information on the fort.

2007

  • secured the 1813 colours of the York militia for Fort York when St. James's Cathedral decided to de-accession them. Our undertaking to raise funds for conservation has attracted pledges of $10,000 to date.
  • put 17 young men and women in uniform as the Fort York Guard and Drums to march and drill for the summer, thereby animating the site. They also served as honour guards off-site and represented the fort at battle re-enactments at Forts Niagara and Erie.
  • established an office in the Centre for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina, to replace one at Ernst & Young to which Joe Gill, our past chair, had access
  • published four regular issues of our quarterly newsletter, The The Fife and Drum; also an extra edition specially for residents in the 950 condo units at 219 and 231 Fort York Blvd.
  • converted most of our newsletter mailing lists to an electronic format. At the start of the year more than 1100 copies of each issue were being mailed to street addresses; by yearend 90% of the 1450 copies we sent were delivered to e-mail addresses.
  • inaugurated Drumroll, an electronic bulletin sent on an occasional basis to promote upcoming
  • events at the fort
  • engaged in extensive discussion that led to the selection of a new logo for the organization
  • welcomed six new directors to our board
  • held the ninth annual Georgian Dinner which was a sellout success
  • raised substantial funds for the benefit of Fort York through donations, dinners, memberships and our parking ventures. In addition, we succeeded in securing grants for summer youth
  • employment of $15,000 from Toronto Culture, $35,000+ from the Government of Canada and a Walmart Evergreen grant of $10,000 for community gardens.
  • spent funds on a variety of purposes, including the following: operation of the Fort York Guard and Drums ($110,000), start-up funding for the Fort York Foundation ($30,000), office rental and operations ($15,000), support for the fort's exhibits program ($75,000), staff overtime during performances of "The Fort at York" play ($5000), purchase of pre-1801 Union Jacks for the flagpole outside the fort's west gate ($1500), acquisitions and supplies for the on-site Research Centre ($1000)
  • asked that the new Bathurst Street bridge planned for construction in 2009 be named in honour of Sir Isaac Brock to mark the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, hard on the heels of our success in having Council adopt pedestrian and cyclist-friendly design criteria for the new structure
  • contacted 17 present-day successors of British Regiments stationed at Fort York before 1870 in a search for new information, of whom seven were able to respond by sending materials
  • provided two or three days of volunteer time weekly to organizing and cataloguing the fort's collections of books, research files, photographs, etc. in the Research Centre
  • purchased a number of small items for the Research Centre, including vintage postcards of Fort York, original newspapers reporting on the Battle of York, and books to support WWI student programs
  • staffed and operated the parking concessions on the lots and lawns west of Fort York for a total of 49 days between April and October
  • asked the Minister of Culture, so far without success, to confirm what we know informally: is Fort York a registered archaeological site under the Ontario Heritage Act and does it, as a result, enjoy ministerial protection from unregulated land disturbance?

2006

  • held first meeting of Communications Committee (there have been 4 to date)
  • deputed to Works Committee supported by City Beautiful Roundtable and Pedestrian Committee on the adverse impacts of replacing the Bathurst St. bridge. Committee recommended to Council the design of the replacement be pedestrian and cyclist-friendly, and that it enhance Fort York.
  • committed substantial time on a weekly basis to organizing fort's collections of books and images
  • enrolled 23 students, both male and female, in The Guard and The Fort York Drums
  • held eighth annual Georgian Dinner
  • published four issues of The Fife and Drum
  • signed a letter of intent to lease space at 215 Spadina after weighing all alternatives

2005

  • expanded substantially the content on our website; resolved to regularize its registration
  • saw Council adopt names for neighbourhood streets and Callwood Park put forward by our committee, and Fort York Blvd. in place of Bremner for the whole length from Spadina Ave. to Lakeshore Blvd.
  • invited June Callwood to a meeting to explain her ideas for her eponymous park
  • held seventh annual Georgian Dinner; second Directors' Dinner
  • participated in design exercise for Blocks 32-36, Railway Lands, at the Centre for Landscape Research
  • published 3000 copies of Fort York: Adding New Buildings which received Heritage Toronto's Award of Merit
  • turned out four issues of The Fife and Drum
  • ramped up involvement in the Environmental Assessment on rebuilding the Bathurst Street bridge
  • met George Baird to discuss how to organize an architectural competition for a Visitor Centre design

2004

  • advocated the boundaries of the Fort York-HCD adopted in 1985 be enlarged to coincide with FYNHS, which Council has enacted
  • moved that all city-owned property within HCD brought under management of Toronto Culture
  • integrated The Birthplace of Toronto, started by staff in 2003, into The Fife and Drum, and published three issues
  • worked on Public Realm plan with dTAH and on Business Plan with consultants retained by Culture
  • explored getting office space in St. Lawrence Hall with Trillium support
  • held sixth Georgian Dinner honouring Laura Secord and Beaver Dams; also first Directors' Dinner
  • co-operated in developing the Statement of Commemorative Integrity
  • urged City to get on with designs for entering site off Fort York Blvd. Funding approved in '05; road built in '06
  • Held first meeting of History & Archaeology Research Committee (there have been 23 to date)
  • congratulated Jo Ann Pynn well in her new job, and welcomed Dave O'Hara as her successor
  • took first steps towards establishing Fort York Foundation

2003

  • launched a new website  using a domain name reserved by Peter Twist in 2001
  • participated in three-day design charette on massing of buildings south of Fort York
  • led a committee of Culture staff and neighbouring landowners to propose streetnames
  • held fifth annual Georgian Dinner
  • began all-volunteer parking operations on the Common during Molson Indy and CNE
  • celebrated the bounds and significance of Fort YorkNHS as established by National Historic Sites Board
  • met senior TPL staff to advocate locating a branch library at Bathurst and Fort York Blvd.
  • published three issues of The Fife and Drum
  • fielded 16 students in The Guard (11) and Drums (5); discussed creating a military band at Fort York
  • began agitating for a sign bylaw to protect Fort York, which Council enacted in 2004

2002

  • organized several lectures as part of Fort York-series at RCMI
  • partnered with Culture staff and Parks Canada in a 3-day workshop to re-assess national significance of Fort York. This required preparation of extensive supporting materials, including Metes and Bounds report.
  • held fourth annual Georgian Dinner, this year marking King George III's birthday.
  • welcomed seeing Fort York Blvd. opened between Bathurst Street and Lakeshore Blvd.
  • articulated as part of an EA process a formal position on aspects of Front Street Extension affecting Fort York
  • published three issues of The Fife and Drum

2001

  • co-operated with consultants retained by City to prepare the Fort York and Garrison Common Parks and Open Space Design and Implementation Plan
  • expended time and costs ($30,000) of opposing at the OMB a proposal by H&R to change the 1995 Part II OP (to which we had contributed much) to permit higher buildings, leaving density unchanged
  • held third annual Georgian Dinner
  • secured donations amounting to $50,000 from Ivey Foundation, George Weston Limited and others for 'Soldier's Trade' exhibit, the first new exhibit at Fort York since Officers' Mess completed in 1993

2000

  • organized four lectures at RCMI in the ongoing Fort York series
  • talked of a website. No further action taken until 2003.
  • advocated successfully as member of Front Street Review Committee for the Front St. extension crossing the rail corridor north of Fort York in an underpass rather than on an elevated structure
  • helped with Fort York's first "Doors Open"
  • held second Georgian Dinner
  • marked millennium on July 1 by organizing re-enactments at Sunnyside and Kew Beach of the invasion by US forces in 1813. Involved some 300 re-enactors, five tall ships and ten long boats. Participated after dark in Harbour Parade of Lights. Held a more modest Festival at Fort York that same weekend
  • published in association with the Fort York Management Board 1000 copies of Fort York: Setting It Right, which won awards from Heritage Toronto and Canadian Society of Landscape Architects.
  • convened a group to study fort's requirements for new buildings, including a Visitor Centre, and exhibits
  • persuaded David Newlands to complete his report on ROM's 1973-75 Fort York archaeological project
  • noted with satisfaction the second acquisition of land from CN, a 2.13 ac. parcel along fort's north edge

1999

  • contributed significantly to consensus on how Toronto's heritage resources should be managed, which saw Fort York get its own Management Board of seven citizens chosen by Council and up to six ex-officio members. Five Friends of Fort York directors served as an interim Board until bylaws for new board are created.
  • organized a series of five lectures at the RCMI
  • staged the third Fort York Festival around a Napoleonic theme with 260 re-enactors and 110 volunteers but attendance, estimated at 1500, was lower than the previous year
  • held inaugural Georgian Dinner for 130 guests. Catered by Jessup aided by volunteers, Fort York staff
  • reported membership of 180
  • formed broadly-inclusive 'Revealing Fort York' task force to formulate planning principles that would guide development proposals
  • began planning for a Fife and Drum corps of younger volunteers, to be known as Fort York Drums
  • co-operated with Jessup Food & Heritage on CELTFEST, a day of Celtic traditions, food and music

1998

  • granted status as a charitable corporation, able to give tax receipts for donations
  • welcomed the Lieut.-Governor and other dignitaries to dedicate the Heritage Flagpole at the west gate
  • encored the successful Fort York Festival, this time with 200 re-enactors, musket drills, a steer-roast, pancake breakfast, etc. Approx. 110 volunteers lent a hand. Attendance estimated at 2000.
  • reported membership of 115
  • took a lead in bringing Jessup Food, acclaimed for its facilities at Ft. Henry and Prescott, to Fort York

1997

  • staged first Fort York Festival on Victoria Day weekend which attracted attendance of 1500
  • created a Vision-centred Business Plan for Fort York, in co-operation with Heritage Toronto [former THB]
  • urged the Mayor and City planners to acquire from CN 1.34 ac. along the north side of Fort York.
  • asked Council to rename Bremner 'Fort York Blvd.,' which it adopted for Bathurst-Fleet section in 1999
  • reported membership of 75
  • fielded a Summer Guard of seven plus a uniform technician, thanks to grants from federal government
  • held a Fall environmental cleanup day along the south ramparts in which neighbours joined in
  • hosted members at a reception at RCMI
  • inaugurated the Fort York series of six lectures at RCMI sponsored by two investment firms

1996

  • The Friends of Fort York and Fort York Volunteers amalgamated in April.
  • planned first Fort York festival but did not carry through on it
  • founded The Fife and Drum newsletter, published three issues, and developed mailing list of about 400.
  • reported a membership of 40
  • were partners in a two-day Ideas Workshop on Fort York underwritten by our corporate neighbours that attracted 100 high-profile participants. Mayor Barbara Hall chaired a session. Proceedings were published.

1995

  • Fort York Volunteers developed mission statement and began planning for Summer Guard. Secured $27,000 from federal government for 10 positions plus supervisor; Royal Insurance gave $15,000 for uniforms.
  • Fort York Volunteers gave substantial input to Fort York Business Plan undertaken by Economic Planning Group with funding from Bathurst-Strachan Working Group. Business Plan approved by Council in November.
  • The Friends sunk their energies into the Bathurst-Strachan Working Group, which reported to Council. Won its support for a complete reworking of the B-S Part II OP on fort-centred principles.
  • The Friends of Fort York and Garrison Common incorporated as a non-profit corporation without share capital in May. The possibility of a merger between The Friends of Fort York and Fort York Volunteers was on the table.
  • both groups lobbied public figures hard to support the fort

1994

  • The Friends of Fort York and Garrison Common made its debut in April before Land Use Committee asking that approval of Bathurst/Strachan Part II Plan be deferred until an alternate fort-centred vision was developed. Originally thirteen members, later expanded to seventeen, we resisted having a big membership because servicing it would take energies from the political agenda.
  • devoted much time through Spring-Summer to lobbying City and Metro councillors, lining up editorial support in the press
  • took major role in meetings of Bathurst-Strachan Working Committee chaired by Dale Martin, which reported in Apr. 1995, to find a basis for a new and better Part II OP.
  • published Revealing Fort York and Once More Unto the Breach: Defending Fort York in the 20th Century to make fort's sad history of neglect and abuse better known
  • Historic Fort York Volunteer Committee ('Fort York Volunteers') was founded in November, dedicated to animating the fort