Fort York National Historic Site
Travel Update: Most destinations are open — check the official websites and read our crucial BEST TIME tips below to help you AVOID CROWDS (Travel with at least 15% off | booking.com)
Victoria Day - Labour Day, Monday - Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Mid-week most ideal, though in colder temps (which happen often in Canada) keeps tourists from coming out in large numbers to view the sites.
The contrast between the the grounds first claimed and built on in 1793 by Col. Simcoe and the current vibrant city of Toronto encircling the historic site, makes a quick trip here very worth it. Like urban trekking in general, it gives you something solid to contemplate, walk through, and photograph, as you consider the long history of this important global city. It's also a welcomed break from the crowded city streets if you are like me and need a moment to recalibrate.
The Fort is open year-round but seems like between Victoria Day - Labour Day, Monday - Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. would be less busy times to go. Like all other historical sites with hours, mid-week is ideal. Though I just went on the weekend in mid-March and despite being their spring break, temps were cold and kept visitors from attending. Make sure to call or click below for most up-to-date hours.
A brief history, Dr. Carl Benn describes the significance of Fort York:
Colonel John Graves Simcoe, Lt.-Governor of Upper Canada, 1791–96.Colonel John Graves Simcoe, Lt.-Governor of Upper Canada, 1791–96.The founding of urban Toronto was a military event that occurred when John Graves Simcoe ordered the construction of a garrison on the present site of Fort York in 1793. Simcoe wanted to establish a naval base at Toronto in order to control Lake Ontario because of a war scare with the United States resulting from Britain's alliance to the native people of the Ohio Country, who were engaged in a brutal conflict with the Americans to preserve their territories. In his capacity as lieutenant-governor of the British province of Upper Canada, Simcoe also moved the provincial capital to Toronto from the vulnerable border town of Niagara during that tense period. Toronto was renamed 'York,' civilian settlement followed the government, and the settlement began to grow. During those early years, Fort York played a significant role in the economic and social development of the small backwoods community.