Fighting for Toronto

Torontonians think of their bustling diversely populated city as a centre of commerce and finance and as a leading cultural hub. It may surprise some that today’s modern city began life as a military garrison and that the British outpost was invaded twice in a war that may have ended with what is now Canada as part of the United States. In 1793, predicting war with the United States, Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe chose the garrison’s location and that of the town of York (now Toronto), as the capital of Upper Canada, because of its highly defensible harbour.

York Barracks, 1804 (public domain).

Fort York National Historic Site, which houses the largest collection of War of 1812-era military buildings in Canada, stands on the birth place of urban Toronto and is the primary relic of those attacks on York in 1813.

After the War of 1812, Canada was never again attacked on her territory by a foreign power, although Canadians have fought in many international wars since, primarily as allies of Britain and the United States.

A selection of sites from this theme is laid out in the trail Early Defenses of Toronto.

The Stories