Fort York National Historic Site
Preserved as a 43-acre archeological park, Fort York is where British soldiers, First Nations warriors and Upper Canadian militiamen stood together against the United States and its mission to capture Toronto in the War of 1812. The bloody Battle of York that ensued was a dark and dramatic moment in the history of the city.
Feel the past come to life. Relive moments of the battle through an immersive multimedia experience. Be inspired by the stories of unsung heroes and those who defended our city, while fighting against their own oppressions. Drawing upon primary sources, including military records, letters, memoirs, and oral accounts, Fort York will engage in the inclusion of Indigenous narratives and stories. We strive to better understand the experiences of persons from historically deserving communities who served in the defense of York (Toronto) and Upper Canada during the war and the pivotal role they played throughout the conflict.
Standing on the former shores of Lake Ontario, surrounded by the skyscrapers of downtown Toronto, it’s easy to see how much our city has grown.
Exhibit space in Fort York’s Visitor Centre includes:
- A 2,900 square foot Exhibit Gallery
- An ‘immersive experience’ exhibit, which takes visitors through the steps leading up to the Battle of York and the explosion of the fort’s Grand Magazine
- A 480 square foot vault or treasury, designed to display iconic and light-sensitive artifacts, in use as Quiet Room as part of the current exhibition, Transforming Grief: Loss and Togetherness in COVID-19
- An Orientation Theatre, a multi-functional space in use as part of the current exhibition
General admission is free. Some exhibitions and events may carry a separate charge where noted.
Fort York is a Scent Sensitive site. For the health and comfort of those with allergies and sensitivities please do not wear scented products at this site.
Hours of Operation
Wednesday to Sunday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free Guided Tours
45-minute tours are offered on the hour starting at 11 a.m. Last tour starts one hour before closing time.
Special Exhibits & Events
Browse the Toronto History Museums Calendar to find special exhibits and events happening at this and other museum sites.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Measures
As of March 21, 2022, Ontario has lifted provincial masking provisions for Museums and Heritage Services with the City of Toronto. In addition, the City’s mandatory mask by-law is no longer in effect. The general public is not required to wear a mask but may choose to wear a mask in any settings they wish and will be supported in doing so. Museum visitors are treated with respect and understanding, regardless of their decision to wear a mask.
Fort York is committed to providing access for visitors to as many areas of the site as possible. All walkways within the seven-acre walled site are asphalt surfaced and are accessible for visitors who use mobility aids. Some exhibits require walking up or down stairs. The Stone Magazine and the Brick Magazine are not wheelchair accessible. The pathway in the Strachan Ave. cemetery is a packed gravel surface with limited accessibility for people using mobility aids. Restored fortification features such as walls, ditches, and dry moats may not be accessible for visitors using mobility aids.
Portable ramps will be provided for any edges that need to be negotiated through doorways and assist visitors with ramp placement. In cases where a visitor cannot access a space, an interpretive overview will be provided upon request (person to person).
Service animals are welcome. Seating can be found in a number of exhibits, outside many of the structures, and in the picnic table area. All washrooms are accessible. Public access washrooms are located in the Visitor Centre, South Soldiers’ Barracks, on the lower floor of the Blue Barracks. The Blue Barracks washroom is accessible via elevator. Water fountains are located outside and only available seasonally.
Please call 416-392-6907 or email Fort York at email@example.com for specific accessibility questions.
Transforming Grief: Loss & Togetherness in COVID-19 exhibition is a free and accessible program that provides opportunities for people across the city to reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on recognizing disproportionately affected communities and those who continue to live with the effects of the pandemic.
The exhibition brings together interviews, art and artifacts. They represent the collective voices of community members, artists, front-line workers, activists and volunteers, and convey how we experienced and continue to experience the pandemic. These are their stories, your stories and our stories.
Wearing a mask is strongly encouraged during the viewing of this exhibition.
The exhibition is on view at Fort York Visitor Centre from March 24, 2023 to January 7, 2024. Learn more.
Effective January 1, 2023, groups of 15 people or more will be charged a fee for their visits. This fee includes a reserved time for your group and a dedicated tour guide to ensure an enjoyable and engaging experience.
For more information on group tours, fees, or to book your group visit, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact us 14 days in advance of your preferred visit date. Groups without an advanced booking may not be accommodated.
Fort York is mainly an outdoor site with walking required between locations. Some structures and exhibits require walking up or down stairs. There are also picnic tables on site. Guests should allow at least two hours for their visit to Fort York. Strollers are welcome at Fort York and are easy to navigate throughout most of the site.
From Gardiner Expressway eastbound: Take the Jameson exit off the Gardiner Expressway to Lake Shore Boulevard. Continue eastbound on Lake Shore Boulevard, past Exhibition Place, turning left on Fort York Boulevard. North on Fort York Boulevard past Fleet Street. The parking lot is in front of our Visitor Centre, under the Gardiner Expressway, located at 250 Fort York Boulevard. Metered parking; $1.00 per half hour.
From Gardiner Expressway westbound: Take the Spadina exit off the Gardiner Expressway and continue westbound on Lake Shore Boulevard. Turn right at Fort York Boulevard and continue north past Fleet Street. The parking lot is in front of our Visitor Centre, under the Gardiner Expressway, located at 250 Fort York Boulevard. Metered parking; $1.00 per half hour.
Additional Green P parking is available at the corner of Fleet Street and Strachan Avenue. Access this Green P lot via the westbound lane of Fleet Street and turn right onto Garrison Road (Garrison Road is marked by the ‘Old Fort York’ archway). This parking lot can also be accessed from Strachan Avenue. Once parked, visitors can walk along Fleet Street to Fort York Boulevard to the Visitor Centre entrance.
Carpark 266 – 250 Fort York Blvd – surface parking – 49 spaces
Carpark 271 – 800 Fleet St – surface parking – 132 spaces
From Bathurst Station: On Line 2, take the Bathurst 511 “Exhibition” bus southbound. Exit at Fleet Street and Bastion Street stop. Walk north along Bastion Street to Fort York Boulevard. Cross the Fort York Boulevard and walk west along Fort York Boulevard to the Visitor Centre.
From Union Station: Take the 509 Harbourfront streetcar westbound towards the CNE Exhibition grounds on Fleet Street. Exit streetcar at Fleet Street and Fort York Boulevard stop. Walk north to the Visitor Centre.
At street level, from the north-east corner of Front St. W. and Bay St.: take the 121 Fort York-Esplanade bus westbound towards the CNE Exhibition grounds, exit at Fort York Boulevard and Fleet street and walk north to the Visitor Centre
From Eglinton West Station: Board the 63 Ossington Bus Southbound. Proceed southbound to Strachan Avenue, south of King Street. Exit the bus at Strachan Avenue and East Liberty Street and walk south towards the Strachan stairs at the west end of Fort York.
For specific TTC route and schedule information call 416-393-4636 (INFO) or visit the TTC website.
From Exhibition GO Station: Take the 509 Harbourfront OR 511 Bathurst streetcar and exit streetcar at Fleet Street and Fort York Boulevard stop. Walk north on the west side of Fort York Blvd to the Fort York Visitor Centre. For specific GO train schedule information visit the GO Transit website.
Bike parking, as well as a Bike Share Toronto station, are located outside the Visitor Centre.
From King and Bathurst ride south on Bathurst Street towards Lake Ontario. Cross the Bathurst (Sir Isaac Brock) Bridge and turn right onto Fort York Boulevard. Follow the Fort York Boulevard bike lane to the Visitor Centre.
From King and Strachan from King Street ride south on Strachan Avenue towards the lake. Turn left at Fleet Street and follow to Fort York Boulevard. Turn left on Fort York Boulevard and ride north to the Visitor Centre.
From the Martin Goodman Trail at Lake Shore Boulevard and Strachan Avenue exit the trail and ride north on Strachan to Fleet Street. Turn left at Fleet Street and follow to Fort York Boulevard. Turn right on Fort York Boulevard and ride north to the Visitor Centre.
Bicycle Parking at Special Events: Many large-scale events (concerts, festivals) will have additional bike parking. Please check with the event for more information on special event bike parking.
The Fort York National Historic Site was built in 1793 and is the birthplace of urban Toronto. It is best known as the location where the Battle of York came to its violent climax in 1813 during the War of 1812. The Fort served as the city’s primary harbour defence between the 1790s and the 1880s, and was the home of a military garrison until the 1930s.
Today, its defensive walls enclose Canada’s largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings. Every year, thousands of people visit the site to explore its fascinating history and enjoy its public programs. Fort York was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1923.
Primary Source Documents
The following primary source documents are available in PDF format by request. Please email email@example.com.
York Garrison Account Books
Titled “Accounts Current, Subaccounts, 1815” this book records detailed and summary expenses from the Commissariat, Transport, Engineers, Indian, Barracks, Quarter Master General’s departments (among others) for the garrison at York, Upper Canada, covering the period December 1814 to November 1815 (although some entries pre and post date). It shows payments for food, fuel, and fodder allowances; building supplies and labour for building splinter proof barracks, powder magazine, mess house, commandant’s quarters, and on other buildings and structures in the garrison and town; and sundry ‘one-off’ expenses such as pension payments. This is one of a set of three Fort York garrison account books in the City’s collection.
City of Toronto Museum and Heritage Services, Fort York National Historic Site collection, X.3019.1
Lieutenant-Colonel William Chewett’s 3rd Regiment of York Militia Orderly Book
An ‘orderly book,’ more accurately a Regimental Order Book, is book number 2 of the 15 required under the British Army’s 1811 Regulations for managing the internal affairs of a regiment. Entries in this book are divided into two periods: 27 April to 19 October 1812 and 7 July 1814 to 10 June 1815. It contains copies of various Regimental, Garrison, District General orders. This level of detail provides significant insight into the day-to-day operation at the militia at York garrison during the War of 1812.
City of Toronto Museum and Heritage Services, Fort York National Historic Site collection, 2011.15.1