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November 1, 2012
Construction starting on Fort York Visitor Centre
The City of Toronto has begun construction of a new visitor centre at the Fort York National Historic Site. Expected to take about 18 months to build, the new Fort York Visitor Centre is scheduled to open in 2014.

The $18-million construction contract was recently awarded to Harbridge + Cross Limited, a Canadian company with many years of experience and a wealth of industry expertise. The building’s architecture, designed by Patkau Architects Inc. of Vancouver with Kearns Mancini Architects Inc. of Toronto, received a Canadian Architect magazine Award of Excellence in 2011.

"The Fort York Visitor Centre will be an important legacy of Toronto's War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration,” said Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of Toronto’s Economic Development Committee. “The innovative design and new exhibits in this multi-purpose building will make Fort York - the birthplace of Toronto - more relevant, accessible and exciting to its many visitors."

The new visitor centre is located below and just north of the Gardiner Expressway, at the entrance to the National Historic Site - in alignment with the original shoreline of Lake Ontario. The visitor centre’s striking front elevation of weathered steel mimics the original lake bluff, which contributed to the fort’s natural defences.

The new building will be Fort York’s front door, welcoming and orienting visitors. Conforming to the Toronto Green Standard, the building will provide Fort York's first secure exhibit space and enable the display of artifacts from the City’s collection that illustrate the history of the city’s founding site.

The visitor centre will act as a hub for the interpretation of the entire 43-acre (17.4-hectare) Fort York National Historic Site. It will contain multimedia programming, permanent and changing exhibits, a Battle of York immersion experience, as well as facilities for education, research, staff and community use. Its completion will allow the fort's administrative functions to be relocated from historic structures inside the ramparts. These buildings, among the oldest in the city, will then be fully opened to the public.

To the north of the visitor centre, a 13-acre (5.26-hectare) open space known as Garrison Common will be significantly improved. As of this year, this green space is hosting diverse programming, including concerts, art installations and community events.

Financial support for the construction of the Visitor Centre and its new exhibits has been pledged by all three levels of government. This includes a $5 million dollar provincial contribution from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and approximately $5 million in federal funding as part of the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund at Canadian Heritage. The Fort York Foundation has launched a campaign to raise $6 million for the project from private donors. A lead gift of $1 million, directed towards the rehabilitation of the Garrison Common, has been made by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation. For more information about the Fort York Foundation's campaign, visit

Access to Fort York (at 250 Fort York Blvd.) by car during the period of construction must be done via Fleet Street and Garrison Road. For more details regarding site access or any other enquiries, call 416-392-6907 or visit

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.7 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media Contact
Shane Gerard
Senior Communications Coordinator



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