Acting Manager moves on

In September, 2021 Kaitlin Wainwright stepped down as Acting Manager, Fort York National Historic Site - a role which she began in January, 2020. We are grateful for her hard work and, in particular, for her steering programming and operations, and managing Fort staff, through the difficult and unprecedented circumstances created by the pandemic.

Kaitlin has assumed her new role with the City of Toronto as Interim Manager, Standards & Innovation, Parks, Forestry and Recreation. Her successor as Fort Manager has yet to be appointed. In the meantime, Tamara Williams, Museum Site Coordinator, is managing day-to-day operations at the Fort.

Update from the Fort

by Kaitlin Wainwright

Acting Manager, Fort York National Historic Site

Another summer at Fort York has come to a close, and while it still looks a bit different than pre-pandemic times, we are delighted to have been able to offer a strong selection of programs. We began with an online Indigenous Peoples Month program in June, celebrating Indigenous histories, arts, and stories through four calls to action: Explore, Feast, Watch, and Shop. More than 25,000 viewers tuned in and supported Indigenous artists and storytellers. Select merchandise from Indigenous Peoples Month remains available in the Museum Shop.
Under the banner of HistoricTO, the 66th season of the Fort York Guard provided educational performances to hundreds of local, regional and even international visitors, and employment opportunities for youth in the community. We’re grateful to the Friends of Fort York for their continued partnership.

Fort York was delighted to be given the 2021 Campbell’s Award for our “Hungry for Comfort” foodways program, cited for “bridging Asian and non-Asian communities.” This year’s version in May was part of Asian Heritage Month and featured, as it does every year, interviews, conversations and cooking demonstrations with some of Canada’s most talented and knowledgeable chefs, culinary historians, and food writers. Congratulations to Bridget Wranich and Melissa Beynon, Fort York program officers, on being recognized for a job well done!
Fall at Fort York will features several programs and events, including HistoricTO outdoor and indoor programs, new Awakenings installations, and a weekend of First World War animation on September 25 and 26. The site will also welcome installations as part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art. Stay tuned to or @TOHistoryMuseums (@TOHistory on Twitter) for the latest details. 

David Juliusson, Museum Program Officer retires after 29 years at Fort York

david museum storeDavid Juliusson, one of Fort York’s longest serving staff, retired in December 2020. A dedicated member of the Joint Health and Safety Committee, David served as a Museum Program Officer for 29 years and his tours were a perennial favourite of school groups.

He’s seen here in the uniform of the 8th Regiment of Foot – which served at Fort York during the War of 1812 – inside the fort’s shop among its outstanding selection of no-battery-needed toys for small children.

Happy retirement, David!

Wayne Reeves retires as Chief Curator

by Andrew Stewart

Wayne joined what was then called City of Toronto Museums in 2009, providing leadership for the Collections and Conservation unit, responsible for managing Toronto’s 1.3-million-item artifact collection. He had previously led policy and research projects for Toronto Parks, Forestrywayne reevesWayne Reeves, who retired on February 25, is seen here thinking hard at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan on May 20, 2018. Photo courtesy Julia York
and Recreation as a historical geographer. His specialty was the history of Toronto’s waterfront – contributing substantially to master plans for parks and development along Toronto’s ever-evolving shoreline.

He has written widely for scholarly and public readerships on topics relating to the history of Toronto. These include water infrastructure (including sewers and waste disposal – see “Burying and burning trash on Toronto’s Military Reserve” in the F&D, March 2015), brewing and, most recently, Packaged Toronto: a Collection of the City’s Historic Design, together with Spacing’s Matt Blackett and Alexandra Avdichuk, the City’s Supervisor of Collections and Conservation.

Wayne was hired just as planning for the City’s War of 1812 Bicentennial commemoration was getting underway. He directed the research and exhibit program for the bicentennial and was deeply involved in the design of exhibits unveiled in the Fort York Visitor Centre in September 2016. The building and the exhibits were never meant to dominate the National Historic Site but rather, as Brian Leigh Dunnigan writes in his review (F&D, December 2016), serve to introduce the site and the conflict at the heart of the story of the fort.

Together with David O’Hara, manager of Fort York, and his staff, and a great many other people, Wayne and his staff rose to the challenge of designing, costing and ultimately opening the Visitor Centre, one of Toronto’s great attractions, and internationally recognized for its architecture as well as its exhibits. Wayne wrote about his vision for the Vault (in the F&D, October 2010), a special room inside the Visitor Centre built to highlight prized artifacts with unique stories in the City’s collections. He then oversaw a joint effort by the Canadian Conservation Institute and the City to restore and exhibit the colours of the 3rd York Militia in the Vault (F&D, June 2013).

Together with War of 1812 Bicentennial Historian Richard Gerrard, Wayne curated Finding the Fallen: The Battle of York Remembered, which opened in the Market Gallery in 2012 (and is still on display in Fort York’s Brick Magazine) and included a book of remembrance with names of all participants in the conflict. So many commemorative events, talks, concerts, walks and exhibits during that and the following year put the fort under a favourable spotlight, setting the stage for the opening of the Visitor Centre building.

The 1812 commemoration was followed closely by that of 1914 – the commemoration of the Great War, which occupied Fort York with another intricate set of exhibits, events and programs involving public participation. These were, again, curated by Wayne and special projects coordinator Sandra Shaul. The Great War – in your Attic, Closet or Storage Locker was just one of many. The First World War touched many families in Toronto, as well as many who came here after the war, and this commemoration was deeply felt.

Wayne’s collegial nature served the interests of the fort and the community at large. He and Jane French from his staff worked closely with the Mississauga of the (then New) Credit First Nation on the exhibit Outcome of the War of 1812: First Nations Betrayed, which opened in their new community centre near Hagersville. He worked with the late Steve Otto and Michael Peters of The Friends, and the late Chris Baker, exhibition coordinator for Toronto Culture, to mount At Ease: The Military at Play in Nineteenth-Century Canada in the Blue Barracks. He generously gave his time and expertise, contributing articles and book reviews to The Fife and Drum.

He has also worked closely with fort staff and volunteers at The Friends and the Fort York Foundation in acquiring and exhibiting historic items of special affinity to the history of the fort and Toronto. These include the Cawthra family heirlooms, Upper Canada Preserved medals and Chewett’s War of 1812 regimental order book. He worked collaboratively with fort staff on two layers of interpretive panels – one inside the fort walls, the other installed as wayfinding posts across the National Historic Site, bringing an unprecedented depth and visibility to the historic interpretation of the site for visitors. These panels, beautifully designed and fabricated, have held up well over the course of a decade now.

Wayne, still a young man, and with a depth of experience, has much more to contribute. He and his wife Julia are accredited judges of craft beer and have planted heirloom varieties of apples from which they make cider. We wish him well in his future
endeavours. Exploring and writing about the history of our city we’re sure are among them.

Dr. Andrew Stewart is an award-winning archaeologist, an expert digital map-maker, and the Chair of the Fort York Foundation.