1813 Williams: Sketch of the ground in advance of and including York Upper Canada - & 1814 Williams: Plan of the Town and Harbour of York

This is the first map made after the Battle of York in April, 1813, showing its aftermath. Gone are both parts of the fort that flanked Garrison Creek. Only an outline remains of the palisaded section east of the Creek, which was put to the torch by the U.S. invaders. Behind it is the outline of the burying ground set aside in 1794, now Victoria Memorial Square. On the west side of the Creek (the site of today's fort) where Government House stood before it too was burned, a dotted line indicates its footprint. A crater left from the explosion of the Grand Magazine is seen as a slight indentation in the bank along the lake west of Government House. The rebuilding of the fort began in late 1813, and the blockhouses were the first structures completed.

Click the map to view a full size version. [Note: 4MB file]

MAP: 1813 Williams Sketch of the Ground in advance of and including York, Upper Canada - Details

Sketch of the ground in advance of and including York Upper Canada. by Geo. Williams R.M.S.D. Novr 1813
Image courtesy Library and Archives Canada: NMC22819
Winearls, MUC No. 2035

On November 22, 1813, at exactly the same time as Williams was making his map, Lt. John Kitson, R.E., reported on the rebuilding of the fort and western battery:

Fort York:
“The Blockhouses on account of the badness of weather and the want of materials have been delayed however they are raised to the second floor and should the weather prove favorable I have reason to beleive [sic] that one of 60 feet by 40 feet and one of 40 feet square will be roofed and shingled by the 30th instant.”

Western Battery:
“At the N.W. angle of this battery is built a musket proof loopholed guard house for 40 men to give flanking fire on the ditch and palisading for 40 men. This battery is more at present intended against vessels entering the Harbour but it is necessary here to observe the wood should be cleared for 500 yards, as now an enemy may advance to within 50 yards perfectly under cover therefore I beg leave to propose that a party of militia should be employed constantly during the winter in clearing this wood. As felling axes are not to be had each Militia should if possible provide himself with an axe.”

Under magnification, gun emplacements can be seen in both the Western and Ravine batteries. In the former the musket proof loopholed guard house is also visible. Within the fort the features flanking the three blockhouses are thought to be fill from excavating their basements, perhaps before the manpower needed to remove it could be spared or where to put it had been decided. The third blockhouse on the left was never completed, or may have burned during construction and not have been rebuilt. The South Brick Soldiers’ Barrack now stands in that location.

Click the map to view a full-size version:

Plan of the Town and Harbour of York George Williams Royl Military Surveyor &c 27 July 1814
Image courtesy Library and Archives Canada: NMC 21771
Winearls MUC No. 2037

By July 1814 when George Williams drew this second map 288 men were housed within Fort York. But the majority of soldiers were billeted elsewhere in town: at the Western Battery (21 men); in blockhouses on Gibraltar Point (30) and up the Garrison Creek ravine (28); in two hospitals (110); in buildings repurposed as barracks on King West (208), John (52), King East (138) and Market Streets (44); and within the re-roofed brick walls of the first Parliament Buildings (220) in the King's Park at the east end of town. Nine officers were accommodated in a large house on the lakeshore at the foot of Bay Street.

The military population of about 1200 men compared with the town’s civilian population of 730 men, women and children in 1814.

See also this (visually higher contrast) copy held in the John Ross Robertson Collection at the Toronto Reference Library: T1814/4Mlrg

Next map: 1815 Van Cortland: Government Buildings at York
Back to: ‘Old’ Fort York