Early Defenses of Toronto

Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe founded York, now Toronto, in 1793, citing its excellent harbour as ideal for defence. But even before modern Toronto’s roots were established with the British Garrison (Fort York) at the entrance to Toronto Bay, Fort Rouillé (Fort Toronto) was where the French established an alliance with the Mississauga during the Seven Years’ War.

As the stories and sites gathered under the theme “Fighting for Toronto” illustrate, although Toronto has been a place of battle, more often it has been the departure point for Canadian forces going to fight in other lands.

This trail highlights several stories of Toronto’s military roots and early history. It begins appropriately in the western part of Exhibition Place at the former site of Fort Rouillé. In 1813, the site was one of the key points of confrontation between British and American troops during the Battle of York, which continued eastwards through what is now Exhibition Place to Fort York.

The Stories