Gord and I did the Exhibition Place and the Battle of York, 1813 walk through Heritage Toronto this evening.
April 27, 1813, was a traumatic day in Toronto's history. At 8am,
over 2,000 American soldiers landed just west of present-day Exhibition
Place. By 2pm, the battle was over and they had control of the town.
Walk the route taken by the Americans as they advanced on Fort York and
hear about the skirmishes and some of the new research discoveries about
Gord is a huge fan of the War of 1812 (the Americans had declared war on Canada, burned down our Parliament Building so we burned the White House, and didn't succeed in making us Americans) and I enjoy learning more about the history of Toronto.
We'd never done a Heritage Toronto walk. We were surprised that so many people showed up for it ... there were over 100!
Our guide was Steve Collie. Steve is a Brampton and Toronto historian, as well as a Fort York Guard for 19 years.
A fella from Heritage Toronto spoke first and gave us some background about Heritage Toronto.
Then Steve took over.
He led us along the path that the Americans took when they invaded Fork York in 1813. We started in the wood area next to the Liberty Grand.
This is the plaque paying tribute to those killed in action in defence of the Capital of Upper Canada on April 27, 1813.
Looking south, water would have been lapping where the fence is. The American ships would have been in these waters, eventually attacking.
This area is where the last French fort, Fort Rouillé (aka Fort Toronto), was which was erected in 1750-51. The fort was abandoned and burned by the French garrison in July 1759, who were retreating from invading British forces. The outline of the original fort has been marked out in concrete around the monument.
Steve spent some time here telling us about the bodies that may still be under this land. When the American and English soldiers were killed in battle, they weren't taken back home. A shallow grave would have be dug and they would have been buried where they died.
Steve then led us to the Shrine Peace Memorial and gave us the history of it. It was presented to the people of Canada on June 12, 1930, by the Shriners as a symbol of peace and friendship between the United States and Canada.
Walking towards our last couple stops, there was a great view of downtown Toronto ... so different from 1813 Toronto!
It was an excellent walking tour! Steve had a lot of passion and knowledge and was only too happy to share.
He had a great sense of humor when delivering the information.
I'm definitely looking forward to doing other Heritage Toronto walks and Steve's ghost walk.