Two hundred years and one month ago—to the day—the rumbling of cannon fire shook the fledgling town of York as nearly 2,000 American troops stormed the shores immediately south of the city’s sole defense, Fort York. The ensuing “Battle of York,” as it would come to be known, resulted in a decisive American victory and a brief looting-filled occupation of the city. Though the defeat at York would prove to be one of our young nation’s darkest moments, an ambitious counter-assault on the U.S. Capitol, where the White House was burned by British forces, turned the tide of the war in the Redcoats’ favour and contributed to the end of a protracted, territorial conflict. Two centuries after the bloody Battle of York, a rumbling similar to 19th century cannon fire can be heard near the grounds of the Fort York National Historic Site. But fear not condo residents, we are not under attack!
The sound of cannon fire has been replaced by the sound of drills and excavators, as construction is now underway on the Fort York Visitor Centre. The unique concept, designed by Vancouver-based Patkau Architects Inc. and local firm Kearns Mancini Architects Inc., will create a new interpretive pavilion for (and entrance to) the National Historic Site along Fort York Boulevard, just below the Gardiner Expressway.
$19 million in funding has been secured from all three levels of government for the $25 million project. The two-storey, 24,000-square-foot building will provide an entrance hall, orientation theatre, and an exhibit room, adding significantly to the immersive historical experience that is Fort York.