Last week on Thursday Doors I introduced you to Fort York, built in the late 1700s to defend what is now Toronto from a potential invasion – which was ultimately proved to be a wise decision.
Lady Simcoe has been credited with making many sketches of early York (now Toronto) and I’ve always puzzled over the image of the settlement sitting on a high cliff overlooking the shores of Lake Ontario.
The image is simply out of synch with the current landscape of the city and Fort York’s location within it.
Fort York now sits on a gently sloping hill about a kilometre (2/3 of a mile) away from the shoreline. The Gardiner Expressway is currently located where the shore would have been.
I knew that a considerable amount of downtown Toronto had been built on manmade land, but until now I never had an appreciation for exactly how much landfill that really meant!!
Meanwhile, back at the Fort, I continued my solitary exploration of the site.
The original buildings are plain in appearance and had in fact been wooden structures, however today, they are a combination of wood and brick.
My favourite building had to be the officers’ quarters. They certainly lived with a much higher standard of living than the regular soldiers – although to be fair, they paid for those amenities themselves.
In the mid-1800s, the large original fireplaces in the officers’ quarters were blocked off and replaced with more efficient wooden stoves.
The original kitchen was located under the officers’ dining room, but was relocated to an addition onto the building in the mid-1800s. Apparently the officers didn’t like the noise coming from the kitchens below while they enjoyed their evening meal.
I didn’t particularly want to venture down the steep and narrow stairs to the original kitchen, but what kind of intrepid explorer would I be if I didn’t?
The basement is currently in a state of disrepair – not sure if it’s being restored or not – as it was largely blocked off from venturing too far from the stairs. Just as well in my opinion. Again – I’ve seen too many horror stories to be comfortable poking around a dark basement.
So although my tour of Fort York didn’t include any of the demonstrations that normally occur during high season with people in period costumes, I found my visit to be fascinating.
The gates are open and visitors are welcome!
This post was inspired by Thursday Doors – a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm 2.0.