The birth of Metropolitan Toronto began in what is now Fort York National Historic Site, one of ten museums operated by the City of Toronto. Situated in the centre of Toronto, Fort York is well known as the locale where the War of 1812 reached its fierce climax.
The Fort built in 1793 was used as the city’s main harbour defence until the 1880s. The Canadian army used the barracks to house their troops and families until the 1930’s.
Enter the grounds from the new visitor centre located below and slightly north of the Gardiner Expressway. Here you will find the 24,000 square foot visitor centre which opened in 2014. You will experience an overall orientation of the grounds covering 43 acres and the 200 year story of Fort York in this beautiful entrance hall that serves as a grand venue. There’s a cafe with outdoor access to the venue dock, four exhibits displaying a range of uniforms, weapons, metals, and the newest exhibit which displays portraits and posters from Canada’s Afghan Mission
Since 1923 Fort York was designated a National Historic Site joining nine other museums run by the City of Toronto today. The City reopened Fort York Victoria Day 1934 after closing for restoration in 1932. These restorations were done to celebrate the centennial of Toronto’s incorporation in 1834. Fort York National Historic Site has Canada’s largest collection of original military buildings from the era of the War of 1812.
Permanent and changing exhibits welcome and educate you on the origin of York (Toronto). This connects the past to the present.
During summer, the Fort is vibrant with lively colours and the intensity of the Guard as they perform daily with artillery firing, battle tactics, drums and other military music and drills. Visitors to the Fort will find it lively and exciting.
The Gallery is sectioned into four divisions. These divisions define four distinct eras of the Fort’s history. The first is from the beginning of 1793 to the end of the War of 1812. The second represents the time of the British Imperial Garrison between 1815-1870, the third the Canadian Military years of 1870-1930 and the last covers 1932 until now.
One of the first historic buildings you come across is the Canteen Museum Store. Take some time and browse through the merchandise at this quaint shop. There’s many interesting and unusual things for sale, something for everyone. The Canteen has a good selection of merchandise including the CD “To Follow the Drum” which has a variety of military music from the War of 1812 period, hand crafted First Nations jewellery, books, toys, pens, plus foods and preserves prepared right on site.
When visiting expect to spend at least 2 hours.
You can stop and rest at picnic tables and benches lining the walkways within the 7-acre walled area. These are wheelchair accessible, however, the pathway to the cemetery is packed gravel limiting wheelchair use.
Parking is limited so public transit may be less stressful and more convenient. Scroll down for information on how to get to Fort York by TTC from Union Station or Bathurst Station.
Facts For Your VisitFee: Yes, there is a small entry fee. Children 5 years and under are free.
May differ on holidays
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesday: Closed
- Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Thursday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Friday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Saturday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Sunday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Address: 250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3K9, Canada
Phone: (416) 392-6907
Official Website: Fort York Museum and National Historic Site
Ratedout of 5
I really enjoyed my visit. Entrance was free and there was almost nobody there so I got to explore the site and history in peace. Which is actually a really interesting glimpse in the history of Toronto. With the old buildings and walls still in tact or restored. All of this in the middle of the city. It takes an hour or so to fully explore. Definitely recommend!
Stef Cobelens - 3 months ago
This is such a cool experience, surrounded by downtown Toronto and near the municipal airport, you can travel back in time to visit Fort York briefly. And for FREE! And learn about Toronto's earliest history. We saw a rifle demonstration and several exhibits in each of the buildings.
Maria Jens - 2 months ago
I recently had the opportunity to visit Fort York, located at 250 Fort York Blvd in downtown Toronto, and it was an experience I won't soon forget! I was amazed to discover that there's a heritage site right in the heart of the city. I was fortunate enough to join a free tour group in the morning, and our guide provided a captivating explanation of the site's history, detailing each building with great care. It was truly fascinating to learn about the lives of the soldiers and how they managed to survive during that time period. Fort York, spanning over 43 acres, is a preserved archeological park that holds great significance. It served as a battleground where British soldiers, First Nations warriors, and Upper Canadian militiamen joined forces to defend against the United States during the War of 1812. The infamous Battle of York that took place here marked a dark and dramatic chapter in the city's history. The site offers an immersive multimedia experience that brings the past to life. Fort York aims to include Indigenous narratives and stories, drawing from primary sources such as military records, letters, memoirs, and oral accounts. This adds a valuable perspective to our understanding of the individuals from historically deserving communities who played a pivotal role in the defence of York (Toronto) and Upper Canada during the war. Overall, my visit to Fort York was a truly enlightening and enriching experience. The staff were knowledgeable and friendly, and the exhibits were thoughtfully curated. I highly recommend a visit to this historical gem in the heart of Toronto!
Hanzhang Li - 4 months ago
Loved the experience. Got to know about the wars between America and Canada Natives/Britain. The museum gives you a glimpse into the lives of soldiers, arms & ammunition and the defense strategy. They hold periodic parade and shows during the summer and fall time. During summer there is an open theatre movie show which goes on for 3 weeks with 2/3 movies a week. That is a nice experience. It has been made free to visit the historical sites but with some restrictions on timing. Be sure to visit the official site to know the most recent updates on timing and any specific activity scheduled.
Ravi Tater - 1 month ago
A beautiful historical site to visit. The entry is free and you learn a lot. A must visit! Fort York constituted the primary defensive position in early York (Toronto). The present buildings erected between 1813 and 1815 to replace those destroyed during the American occupations of York in 1813, are among the oldest in Toronto important surviving examples of British military architecture. At the turn of the 20th century. the fort was threatened with demolition. The fight to save it led to one of the first victories of the Canadian heritage movement. The fort was bought by the city in 1909 and restored between 1932 and 1934 as part of Toronto's centennial celebration.
Dee Toronto - 5 months ago
Accommodations near Fort York Museum and National Historic Site:
|TTC Subway Line||Nearest Station||Walking Time|
|Yonge-University-Spadina||Union Station||3 minutes|
|Bloor-Danforth Line||Bathurst Station||3 minutes|
How to get to Fort York Museum and National Historic Site by TTC Subway
From Bathurst Station on the Bloor Street Line take a #511 Bathurst Streetcar south to Fleet Street at Fort York Blvd. Exit and continue west on Fleet Street, then go right onto Fort York Blvd. The entrance to Fort York is via the Visitor Centre just ahead.
From Union Station take a #509 Harbourfront Streetcar west towards the Exhibition grounds then proceed as above.
Map & Instant Route Finder
Click&Go Map and Route Finder with public transit, walking, driving or cycling directions. Get up-to-the-minute transit times for your route.