Thursday, November 15, 2007

What everyone knows about Fort York is that it is a relic of the past buried in the shadow of the Gardiner Expressway, overwhelmed by the roaring modernity of downtown Toronto around it, and only school groups would go there.

Amazing how nobody knows anything. Fort York is one of the most architecturally-striking, most mood-inducing landscapes anywhere in the city, a remarkable oasis that almost instantly imposes its own scale and its own pace upon its visitors. We often take out-of-towners there as part of the city tour; and it never fails us.

And as high rise residential development surges around it, the fort and Garrison Common become more, not less, effective, as a counterpoint. To that end, the city and Friends of Fort York have some ambitious plans. Fort York is not shrinking away. It plans to grow: restoring vanished buildings, developing a visitor centre, boosting visitor traffic, becoming more vital to culture and heritage in Toronto. The detail is in a booklet the Friends recently sent me, boldly entitled Fort York: Adding New Buildings. Online:

The two hundredth anniversary of the War of 1812 is five years away. And on the history of Fort York, Carl Benn has recently produced this new Fort York: A Short History and Guide.

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