by David O'Hara, Site Administrator

The year 2012, as expected, is already proving to be very busy. On the heels of another successful Queen Charlotte’s Ball in January, it was an honour to partner with Senior College of the University of Toronto on a daylong event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. From the Ashes of War, A Nation is Born was sold out, thanks to our wonderful partners at Senior College and to all of those who participated in the event.

The Visitor Centre Project and rehabilitation of the Garrison Common are proceeding as planned. Construction of the new building is expected to be tendered in April for a mid-year start. Rehabilitation of the Garrison Common will begin by the end of March with the seeding of the former tree nursery site, which is almost 2 ½ acres in size. The area will be ready to support activities by the time of the launch of the War of 1812 Bicentennial in June.

Over the next two months, the Fort York staff and our partners will be working on various components of the 2012 program. Our largest undertaking, led by artists Thom Sokoloski and Jenny-Anne McCowan and commissioned in partnership with Luminato, is The Encampment, a large-scale art installation comprising 200 A-frame tents erected within the fort’s walls. Each tent will contain a visual representation of an aspect of the war’s civilian history. Like archaeologists, selected ‘Creative Collaborators’ will commit to “getting their hands dirty” by unearthing and transposing civilian stories from the War of 1812 into art installations that will be set up in each tent. If you are interested in becoming a Creative Collaborator, please visit  www.thomasandguinevere.com for more information. See all the other Toronto Bicentennial programs and events at www.toronto.ca/1812.

Within the walls of the fort, our current archaeology exhibit has been recently removed from the Brick Magazine to allow for various capital improvements to the building itself. Some components of the exhibit have been relocated to the Blue Barracks. Work on the Stone Magazine has just been completed and the installation of an exhibit on Black Powder is anticipated in the next few weeks.

Recently too a request for proposals (RFP) has been issued for the detailed design of the national historic site lands to the east of Bathurst Street adjoining the Library District Condominiums. By May of this year a team will be on board to assist with the long-term planning and development of these parklands. Meanwhile, a cleanup of the east entrance from Bathurst Street was also completed a short time ago. In future, this entrance will function more as a secondary entry point, open for special events only, so we can direct museum visitors to our main entrance and Visitor Centre at 250 Fort York Boulevard where they can be properly oriented to the site as they begin their visit.