A Look at Fort York

fort york toronto brick magazine

These pictures were taken at the historic site Fort York, where you'll find the oldest buildings still standing in Toronto, except for three log cabins and a lighthouse that are slightly older.

In the late 1700s, when this area was no more than a small trading post surrounded by forest, the fort was established by the British Army and Canadian Militia, to defend the area, then called York, from the United States.

The reason they chose this particular place for it was that there used to be a river running south, depositing into Lake Ontario at that spot, and the banks of the river provided natural protection. The river actually still runs today, however it's now encased within a buried tunnel, something they did in the late 1800s because it had become very polluted.

I took these on the same afternoon that I went to the Aboriginal Pavilion that was held on the grounds. I got to the Pavilion by entering from Bathurst Street to the east of the fort, so had to walk through on my way to the exhibit that was located on the far west.

bathurst street bridge to fort york toronto

↑ This bridge was originally a draw-bridge that went over that now buried river. ↑

gate to fort york toronto

eastern entrance to fort york toronto

brick magazine constructed 1814 fort york toronto

↑ Brick Magazine constructed in 1814 to keep ammunition but structural failure of the foundation forced them to convert it to a storehouse in 1824. ↑

officers brick barracks and mess fort york toronto

officers barracks and mess built in 1815 fort york toronto

↑ Officers' Barracks & Mess Hall, constructed in 1815. This building had private rooms for three senior officers of the fort, a kitchen, pantries, wine cellar, storage rooms, and dining room. ↑

north soldiers barracks built in 1815 fort york toronto

↑ North Soldiers' Barracks - This and a second similar barracks to the south were constructed in 1815. Both buildings housed 100 soldiers, wives, and children. ↑

I happened to pass by while a demonstration by the Fort York Drums and Squad was going on (which you can read about here if you're interested).

fife and drum band fort york toronto

drum and fife band fort york toronto

fort york toronto squad

On my way back through, after visiting the pavilion, the crowd at the fort had somewhat dissipated, to the point that I was nearly alone on the paths.

historic fort york toronto

I could hear the faint but distinct sound of a lone fife being played somewhere. I followed my ears and found the source -- a young man practicing while walking back and forth along the top of a hill.

fife player in uniform in fort york toronto

boy practicing fife fort york toronto

boy playing fife wearing historic uniform fort york toronto

Aside from being a historic site that is maintained as a tourist attraction, Fort York is used for quite a few large outdoor events. There are a couple of good sounding ones coming up : this weekend there's an electronica music festival called "Mad Decent Block Party", and then in mid September there is another music festival, this one a 3 day affair called "Toronto Urban Roots Festival".

Thanks for visiting my site. I hope you had a great weekend. We hung out enjoying the gorgeous weather, barbecued, and went to a great artisan market that I'll tell you about in my next post.
xo loulou
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8 Responses to A Look at Fort York

  1. Gaia says:

    It is so nice to see brick buildings among all the concrete towers. Another place I have to visit in the city.
    Happy Monday !

  2. Julie says:

    such a neat perspective on fort york, I’ve only seen it as a music festival venue, before this. And I had no idea about the enclosed river, that is really interesting!

    • Loulou says:

      Hi Julie. I’m so glad that you found the story interesting. I remember first hearing about the buried river and wondering how that was even possible. It ran all the way down from Christie Pits, through Trinity Bellwoods Park and down to the water (which used to come all the way to Fort York, but subsequent landfill has moved the shoreline considerable further south). There is apparently and entire huge bridge buried intact near the corner of Crawford and Dundas.

  3. Sharyn Hanson says:

    I do not comment as often as I would like; however I just want to let you know once again that I thoroughly enjoy reading “Loulou Downtown” and following you around Toronto via your great photo’s!
    I am not able to jump on an airplane or take a cruise ship anywhere. I am very fortunate to have a computer which is the window for my adventures around the world!
    Thank you for sharing your world and the history that evolved around it. You are a great writer and a terrific photographer.
    Sincerely, Sharyn Hanson

  4. Vix says:

    A wonderful sight, that beautifully preserved building dominated by the modernity of the skyscrapers! xxx

  5. Kaisa says:

    I love the contrast between the old and new buildings!

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