Manager's Report (spring 2014)

by David O’Hara, Site Manager

Having reached the 90% mark, construction of the Fort York Visitor Centre is moving along nicely with full completion scheduled for early July. Now that all of the horizontal weathered steel panels are in place, the vertical weathered steel panels and exterior channel glass, which form the main façade of the building, will be installed over the next month.
Although the plan is to officially open the building in September with inaugural exhibits, much of the work on interior and exterior finishing will continue throughout the remainder of the year. The main landscape work will be undertaken in the fall, after the building opens and when our busy summer event season has concluded. This work will include the removal of the Garrison Road bridge and its replacement with a lower level road which will connect Garrison Road with the main entrance and parking lot off Fort York Boulevard.

Garrison Road will be reconstructed in a manner which treats it as more of a primary pedestrian route through the Common. The final treatment will be narrower in width with much nicer paving and pedestrian scale lighting. We are also investigating whether or not we might be able to afford placing the overhead power lines below grade. Improvements across the Common will include new walkways and interpretive and wayfinding signs. All of this work has been made possible with the funding provided by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation. Funding from TD Bank Group will allow us to undertake improvements within the Strachan Avenue Cemetery in conjunction with those noted above.

By the end of this year, and certainly into spring of 2015, the relationship between the walled portion of the Fort with the Visitor Centre, Garrison Common, and main entrance will make much more sense. A main entrance address of 250 Fort York Boulevard will make Fort York much easier to find and the site will be much easier to access by an internal road network and new pedestrian/bicycle routes.

In the middle of planning for these very significant changes, we’re still working on many other projects and implementing a busy summer event calendar. Doors Open Toronto brought over 3400 through the fort in late May before we moved on to the Grid Burger Day and Arts and Crafts Field Trip at the beginning of June, with attendance of approximately 4000 and 15, 000 respectively.

On June 5 we were honoured to host, in the presence of His Royal Highness The Duke of York and The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, The Trooping of the Guidon of The Queen’s York Rangers. As part of this event, the Lieutenant-Governor presented a handmade reproduction of the Royal Standard of George III along with an accompanying current version of the Lieutenant-Governor’s personal standard. Both flags will be integrated within a future exhibit at Fort York. Images from this event can be found at

On June 20-22 our own Indigenous Arts Festival celebrated traditional and contemporary music, dance, theatre, storytelling, visual arts, crafts, and food created by indigenous artists from across Ontario and British Columbia. Hosted by the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, this free festival energized Fort York with powerful ancient traditions and compelling contemporary creations.

Leading into Canada Day this year, we’re honoured to host Canadian Joint Operations Command and the Afghanistan Memorial Vigil in the Blue Barracks at Fort York. The aim of the Memorial Vigil is to pay tribute, in key geographical locations, to the sacrifice of Canadians and their allies who were part of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. As the only Toronto stop for the Memorial Vigil, it will be on site at the fort from June 27 to July 3 and will be open in the evenings until 9 pm. Access to Fort York is free.

Throughout the summer both construction and a wide range of popular events will continue.