When Neighbours Fight – Part 2

Over the past few years, I’ve been systematically visiting Toronto’s tourist highlights, however there was still one very significant attraction that was outstanding on my list.

The site of Fort York.

They left the back door open …

Fort York is a National Historic Site built by the British in the late 1700s as a military site to defend against invasion – primarily from the south. In case you’ve forgotten your Canadian geography, I’m referring to our neighbour, the United States.

In fact the US did invade Canada during the War of 1812 – although to be fair, we weren’t Canada yet. I mean, come on! Why would anyone want to pick a fight with Canada? … although admittedly we’ve managed to really tick off a few countries lately. Like Saudi Arabia, China … but I digress …

The original fort was destroyed during battle with the Americans and was subsequently rebuilt after the war. Apparently our trust in our southern neighbour wasn’t very high.

This was my favourite door located at the Stone Powder Magazine, where the ammunition was stored. The heavy metal door was at least 10 cm thick (4 in). The small bomb proof building was located at the bottom of a moot and had walls over 2 metres thick (6.5 ft).

Anyway, to set the scene on the day of my visit, it was early Sunday morning on the weekend after New Year’s Day.

I was the only person there … on a 43 acre site. It was both amazing and a little creepy.

The first door that drew my attention was the entrance into the site.

This was the date the US attacked Fort York.

I had been told that beyond this door, there was going to be a ‘reenactment’ – using lights and sound effects – of the American attack on the fort in the early hours of April 27th, 1813.

But as I walked through the corridor, nothing happened. All was quiet and quite frankly, I was a little disappointed.

I was almost at the end of the darkish tunnel leading to the grounds when I had a vague sense of movement in my peripheral vision and then ‘gunfire’ suddenly erupted right behind me.

I NEARLY HAD A CORONARY!

I eventually got my hammering heart rate out of the heart attack zone and for the rest of my visit I periodically looked around suspiciously to confirm I really was alone.

Who said learning about history had to be boring?

Soldier barracks

This post has been brought to you by Thursday Doors, the year 1813, and the risk of sudden heart attacks.

For Part 1 of When Neighbours Fight, click here which tells the story of why Canada burned the White House.

More to come …

85 comments

    • I’ve become accustomed to doing many things alone. My husband and my friends don’t necessarily share my interest in some things … or my desire to go out early on a Sunday morning πŸ˜‰

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  1. What an interesting place but not somewhere I would like to be on my own. I don’t blame you for getting a fright like that. Great photos, thanks for braving it, Joanne, so you could share them with us. πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks Jean πŸ™‚
      There’s really no place I can think of in Toronto where I would not feel safe to visit alone during the daytime. In fact the quiet on Sunday morning is one of the key attractions … if only I can get motivated to go out πŸ˜‰

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  2. I had a whole museum in Washington, DC once to myself for some unknown reason. You’re right; it is really creepy. I didn’t have gunfire though, thankfully. I say re-build those forts… to keep us from immigrating! – Marty

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    • When I go to a venue expecting to see people and there aren’t any, I’m left wondering what everyone else knows that I don’t. I can’t say that I ever feel unsafe though.
      If it was dark outside, that would be a different story. I’m afraid of the dark … I blame my older brother and too many horror movies as a child πŸ˜‰ I don’t even like putting the garbage out at night. You know – werewolves, zombies 😳

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  3. Don’t worry about the countries with which Canada’s been picking bones lately – they’re not really shining examples of liberty…

    That being said, if Donald doesn’t get his wall to the south he might pick a fight with York again just to get rid of his tantrum…

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  4. Wow! You’re such a brave soul! I’d NEVER go alone to a place like that. And being ALL ALONE in it would’ve scared the c**p out of me! But what a great story and photos you got, you brave one! πŸ˜‰

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    • If I wasn’t willing to go out and do things on my own, I’d never do anything.
      I feel safe and comfortable exploring Toronto alone, including all her parks and ravines.

      I am however not prepared to venture out at night – not because I think it’s unsafe, but because I’m afraid of the dark 😏

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  5. I can’t believe that you had the whole place to yourself. I wonder if that gunfire sound was triggered by movement and it was delayed for a moment… Holy Cow, I would have had a coronary too. I wasn’t aware that we invaded you like that. Too bad we didn’t take back the spoils of war… like Universal Healthcare, reasonable gun control laws and politeness.

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    • I was surprised to find the place empty as well. I too believe that the sound effects were supposed to be triggered by motion, but for whatever reason, only that last one at the end was set off. By that time I wasn’t expecting anything! Yikes!

      I laughed at your list of spoils of war. Don’t you wish 🀣
      I don’t think there was a great deal of thought that went into the invasion. From what I understand, the only spoils of war taken was a painted stick. Seriously. And you held it in a Washington museum until 1934 before it was returned. It’s actually comical.

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  6. WHOA! Thanks for doing that so I don’t have to! That’s really neat and completely terrifying! lol

    You know what they teach us about 1812? The overture of. That is all πŸ˜‰ We have to grow up and learn the hard way. *sigh*

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    • If it had happened at the beginning, I would have been good – I was expecting it. It was the element of surprise … which perhaps might have been the point πŸ˜‰

      After the fact though, I did wonder how long it would have taken before someone discovered my body 😳

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  7. I love historical stuff and Fort York is certainly on my list for a future visit to Toronto. However, if it had been me I would have given someone there a stern talking-to for the semi heart attack.
    Glad you survived the experience for our benefit πŸ™‚

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    • I briefly considered going back to the entrance and letting them know that the motion detectors didn’t work until the very end … but why deprive someone else of a major adrenaline rush? πŸ˜‰

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  8. Wow and I thought it was brave if you to wander through the fort alone β€” but to continue after the β€œmulti-media” experience. You are made of sterner stuff than me Joanne πŸ˜€

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  9. I’m glad you took advantage of the great weather to get out there. I had to live vicariously through you while reclining on the couch and mopping at my nose instead of looping and latte-ing with you as I had hoped! Glad you survived the assault on your cardiovascular system – that means we can get out together soon, I hope! πŸ˜‰

    Deb

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    • Ha! Thanks πŸ™‚ When I first started blogging (about the Bruce Trail), I had a friend in marketing who chastised my ‘sterile’ titles. After that, I took it as a personal challenge to find the right ‘hook’. Sometimes I’m pretty proud of them – like this one. I liked it enough to give it a Part 2 πŸ™‚

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  10. Were there a few choice words uttered during that coronary? LOL! I have always found it so interesting that this site remains in the middle of so much city scape going up around it. It has been years since I was there, think we went when the kids were very little.

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  11. We visited Fort York years ago in the summer and there were various people reenacting the various elements of the life at the Fort but I don’t think they had the multimedia stuff yet. At least I don’t remember. It is a very nice place to visit. Nice story & photos. (Suzanne)

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  12. The sound of gunfire erupting as I walked the display would have me jumping for sure!! I love old forts. We took our kids to the one in St. Augustine when they were younger. They always hold so much history. I’m glad they rebuilt this one.

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    • I admit that I was never a big fan of visiting sites like this – which explains why I hadn’t been there yet. However, I find the older I get, the more I appreciate our history and the lessons there are in the past to how we live today.

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  13. These days, I can understand why you might want to beware of your southern neighbors. I am part of them, and I,’m wondering what the heck we’re doing. I love the doors to the fort! I am glad the British decided to rebuild this.

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  14. Gosh, you separated Part 1 from Part 2 by two-and-a-half years. I’m glad the suspense is now over. Sounds like a fun fort to visit, with their ambush-like display. I’m always fascinated with the rocky start our two countries had with each other, when I consider how well we’ve gotten along for the past two hundred years. Nice history lesson.

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    • hehehe. I just liked the title and wanted to use it again πŸ™‚ … otherwise I’d have to be considered the worst serial writer ever!

      From the stories I’ve heard about border crossings, many Americans think Canada Is an extension of the US. Dare I say it? but … they arrive with their guns and are shocked to discover we have our own laws about guns – as in, no, you can’t.
      We apparently still don’t trust you πŸ˜‰. See? One little war and then centuries of suspicion 🀣

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  15. I’m sorry if I laughed at your near coronary, but I can see that happening, “that” meaning the one part of the display coming to life after you had passed… I’ve been in a couple of old forts on this side of the Great Lakes (actually Lake Erie, instead of Ontario). Always an odd sense of history. And go Canada – someone needs to stand up to the Saudis!

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    • Let’s just say we didn’t get a Christmas card from the Saudis this year πŸ˜†

      It did cross my mind that it would have been brilliant if the timing of the display had been deliberate. Evil – but brilliant.

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          • I did see that. Yeah, if it is as cold there as here, she might want Australia! Having the freedom to walk down to the store by herself and buy a sweater without someone’s approval will be worth the cold!

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            • Saudi Arabia is all kinds of nasty and they deserve to be deeply ostracized by the world.

              But they have oil. A lot of it, and we are addicted, so the world tiptoes around them trying not to offend while privately appalled at their human rights offences and funding of terrorism. Shame!

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              • I agree 100%. Oil, and the money from oil, is far more important than people or the Earth itself. If we were really committed, we could wean ourselves off of oil and be 100% renewables, but nobody wants to make long term commitments like that.

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