‘Old’ Fort York

What would we have done without Elizabeth Simcoe? While her husband, Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, was attending to the heavy burdens of official business that came with establishing a province, she was recording its early moments in words and watercolour.

In May 1793 Simcoe made his first, brief visit to York which was considered much safer than Newark [Niagara-on-the-Lake] for the seat of government. Sites for the future town and fort would have been chosen then, or confirmed. When the first contingents of Queen's Rangers arrived in the latter half of July to begin clearing the forest, they'd  have known exactly where to begin. The Simcoes followed ten days later to find an embryonic fort rising on the west bank of the Garrison Creek. It was named Fort York on Aug. 24.

Later, about 1798 when the green-timber 'hutts' that were built for the Queen's Rangers began to decay, their replacements were constructed on the east bank of the creek. Some important functions, however, like Government House and the Grand Powder Magazine remained on the west bank. When the American invaders attacked York on 27 April 1813, both halves of Fort York were burned. Rebuilding started later that year, but was confined to the site of the present fort on the west bank.

1793 Elizabeth Simcoe: Proposed Idea for the Winter Camp of the Queen’s Rangers at York 

1797 Bouchette: Plan of York Harbour

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

1815 Van Cortland: Government Buildings at York

1816 Nicolls & Duberger: Plan of the Fort at York Upper Canada

1842 Biscoe: Plan of Fort

1846 Gray: Toronto, C.W. Sketch shewing the Harbour and Ordnance Property, with the Encroachments...

1870 Wily: Toronto Old Fort/Toronto New Barracks

[1884, 1894, 1903, 1913, 1924] Goad: Atlas of the City of Toronto, Plate 19
1905 Staples: Proposed New Street Railway Route ... through the Old Fort

1906 Unwin: Plan Shewing Exhibition Park and Garrison Commons, Toronto

1918 [City Surveyor]: Military Burying Ground, showing locations of surviving markers
1921 Toronto Harbour Commission: Plan of Old Fort Showing Present Conditions and Location of Original Buildings

1958 Globe: Invade Old Fort—Proposed alignment of Gardiner Expressway & 1959 Parker (Star): New Plans for Gardiner Expressway

2003 Toronto Works & Emergency Services: Fort York National Historic Site

2012 DTAH/Wyma: Fort York National Historic Site Rehabilitation—Concept Site Plan

2014 DTAH: Fort York Parks and Open Space Network

Proceed to Next Chapter: The ‘New’ Fort (Stanley Barracks)