Administrator’s Report (winter 2013)

As we move into April, the final stages of planning are underway for the Bicentennial Commemoration of the Battle of York on Saturday, April 27th. Details regarding the program for April 27 and other events can be found at While significant efforts have gone into preparing for key Bicentennial activities, staff at Fort York have already mounted several successful events to mark the new year. The annual Queen Charlotte’s Birthday Ball and Mad for Marmalade, Crazy for Citrus! provided opportunities for our culinary experts to shine, and on February 24th as part of Black History Month, Gareth Newfield gave a talk on “Free Men of Colour: African Canadians and the Defence of Upper Canada, 1812-1815.”

Since planning for all of our programs and events is undertaken by a small team, I’m pleased to announce that we have two recent additions to the group. In the fall of 2012 Kristine Williamson was the successful candidate for the position of Museum Outreach Officer at Fort York. With an undergraduate degree in Canadian history and a graduate degree from Western University’s Public History program, Kristine has worked at a number of heritage sites and organizations, including the Design Exchange and Lord Cultural Resources. Kristine had been at Fort York on a temporary basis since October of 2011 and was a key player in the programs and events held throughout 2012.

In February Robert Kerr was hired as Supervisor, Special Events. Robert is an arts professional with a long history in developing cultural organizations and delivering arts festivals and events. Career highlights include positions as Program Director for the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad, founding Executive Director of Coastal Jazz & Blues Society / Vancouver International Jazz Festival, founding President of the national arts service organization Jazz Festivals Canada, and Producing Artistic Director of Major Civic Events for Vancouver 125. Robert moved to Toronto in February 2012 and has spent the past year providing consulting services to Ontario arts and cultural organizations including the Aga Khan Museum, Canadian League of Composers, Guelph Jazz Festival, and Small World Music.
It is also a pleasure to report that Ned Gallagher has been hired as our new part-time Program Instructor. As a volunteer, a member of the Fort York Guard, and as Guard Supervisor, Ned already has several years of experience at Fort York and is a welcome addition to the staff team.

From the trenches, where the excavation for the new Visitor Centre is underway, Project Manager David Spittal reports that construction continues despite the loss of several days due to bad weather. Work was recently completed on storm sewer infrastructure, connecting the new facility to the main sewer system. At this point the anticipated time of building completion is early May 2014, with exhibit installation and final landscape improvements to follow. Restoration work underway in both the Officer’s Brick Barracks and Mess and the Brick Magazine, led by Project Manager Gordon Lok, is scheduled to be completed by the end of March.

The Fort York Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge is still moving ahead. On January 31 a public meeting was held to discuss plans for the development of the Ordnance Triangle to the north of Fort York. In addition to a presentation on the development proposed for the lands, city staff provided an update on the Fort York Bridge. As part of an Environmental Assessment Addendum required for the bridge, staff presented three bridge options for further review and costing. The main difference between these new options and the original bridge proposal is that the bridge is now being conceived as two separate structures with shorter spans instead of one longer single-span structure. The two smaller bridges will touch down in the middle of the Ordnance Triangle with improved access for new and existing residents and a direct connection to the future park within the triangle. Staff will be reporting back at a future meeting on the recommended option for the Fort York Bridge. Please visit for detailed information.

Work on the Garrison Common with DTAH continues with improvements planned for 2013 and 2014, and progress on the east end of the national historic site with the Toronto-based design studio Public Work is currently at the stage of public consultation. A public meeting for this project was held at Fort York on March 7th and a second will be scheduled at some point in April. Our colleagues in the city’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division are in the process of awarding the construction contract for June Callwood Park. This new park will be located to the immediate south of the fort, making a strong connection to the system of waterfront parks. While construction will begin this year, it is expected that some of the final planting and other finishing touches will extend into 2014.

by David O’Hara, Site AdministratorSupervisor