Fort York Museum and National Historic Site

Learn about Canada's early history at the Fort York National Historic Site

Old Cannon in Fort York
Old Cannon in Fort York cc licensed photo by David

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 Visit

Fee: Yes, there is a small entry fee. Children 5 years and under are free.

Fort York Museum and National Historic Site Hours:
Opening hours may differ on holidays

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Thursday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Friday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Saturday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Address: 250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3K9, Canada

Phone: (416) 392-6907

Official Website: Fort York Museum and National Historic Site

Fort York Museum and National Historic Site Reviews

Rated 4.5 out of 5 Star Rating

5 Star Rating Second time visiting in about 6 years. The new visitor centre is really nice. While it’s short, the cinematic introduction they have there is extremely well done, so good job to whoever came up with that. The displays are all well curated and have plenty of commentary to go along with them. I found the commemorative room for the Battle of York particularly well done. The tour was a nice introduction to the first two buildings, so I recommend doing it since there’s really no reason not to. I actually would’ve preferred if it had run a bit longer (was ~40min), but I realize that would probably add a lot of strain on scheduling groups. The demonstrations are also really cool (this time it was a demonstration of a musket firing), and all the staff were very friendly and clearly enthusiastic about the fort’s history. Highly recommend coming here if you’re interested in history. I would recommend coming on a mild day though, since there’s not much protection from the sun when you’re outside (and most of the buildings are obviously not air conditioned).
Aidan Lynch - a week ago

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5 Star Rating Fort York is the largest historic museum in Toronto. With many of Toronto's oldest buildings. Located just west of Bathurst street on Fort York Boulevard. The site is approximately 43 acres or 17 hectares. My favourite building might be the stone mag where the gunpowder was held. Its simple design and effective results were interesting to me. There's a plethora of cannons and mortar on the site. Anothet favourite is the soldiers barracks, and getting a feel for how they lived their lives on a day to day basis. They have daily tours that cover these areas, and provide a fun learning experience. The visitor centre is located closer to the gardner expressway, and is another area that has information for visitors of the site. Most people aren't aware of the community garden that is also onsite at the north east end.
Rameel - 2 weeks ago

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5 Star Rating The hours of operation didn’t allow me to visit inside during my work trip but I was still able to see from above and the entrance. From the train crossing to Fort York’s entrance there is a public stair case that shows the details of various battles that took place which was very interesting.
Eric Larsen - a month ago

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5 Star Rating Nice Historic Museum in Downtown Toronto. I visited Fort York National Historic Site today on March 10, 2024 at about 03:00 PM. It was a good experience visiting this museum. I was able to see the barracks used by soldiers from 1800s and 1900s. I was also able to learn about the different Army Uniforms, Ships, Guns, and other Ammunitions. There were many paintings and information diagrams depicting historical information. Fort York National Historic Museum was open till 4 pm. Last tour today was at 02:00 pm. Since I had reached at 3 pm, I was not able to join the tour. I travelled from my apartment by bus to Warden Subway Station. Then I got down at Bathurst Subway Station and took the street Car to Fort York intersection. And ftik there I walked to reach the museum, which was about 200 metres from the streetcar stop. I took some photos on my phone Samsung Galaxy A71.
Dawn Narikkattu Mathews - 4 months ago

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5 Star Rating This was such a neat experience! As Americans we don't learn about the War of 1812 because we didn't win. Mike was an amazing tour guide. I loved the land acknowledgement! Easy parking in the shade under the freeway.
Kristin Barnett - 3 weeks ago

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TTC Subway Line Nearest Station Walking Time
Yonge-University-SpadinaUnion Station3 minutes
Bloor-Danforth LineBathurst Station3 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.

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