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September 24, 2008
1812 Bicentennial commemorates a war that set Canada on the path to nationhood
The War of 1812 was a struggle between British, American and First Nations forces that shaped the future, not only of Toronto, but also of North America. Toronto City Council today approved a staff report that proposes a Bicentennial Commemorative Program of special events and programs presented by Toronto’s arts and educational sectors, business, community, and heritage organizations that will take their inspiration from the history of the War of 1812 and the program’s four legacy projects:

- Revitalization of Fort York National Historic Site which includes the construction of a new visitor orientation centre, the restoration and reinterpretation of North America’s largest collection of authentic War of 1812 buildings, and the restoration of the 18-hectare grounds that include remnants of the site’s original 18th and 19th century landscape.
- Nomination of Fort York for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List based on its connection to the War of 1812 which has already been recognized by UNESCO as an event of international significance. The designation would be a major contribution to the shared goal of the Province of Ontario, City of Toronto, and Tourism Toronto to make Toronto a gateway to cultural and heritage tourism in Ontario, and to position Toronto as a distinctive premier tourist destination.
- Creation of the Toronto Heritage Trail System, including an 1812 to Confederation trail, to provide a way-finding system for visiting historical and notable sites. The Toronto system would link to a proposed province-wide system.
- Construction of the Fort York Pedestrian Bridge that will provide an important new north-south pedestrian and cycling link for communities north of the lakeshore rail corridor to Fort York and the waterfront.

The City of Toronto’s main expenditure will be $8 million in partial funding for the revitalization of Fort York. Additional sources of funding for the bicentennial program and the four legacy projects is expected to come from a variety of sources including the federal and provincial governments, and private sector fundraising efforts.

“Through our bicentennial program and the legacy projects, we will recognize a pivotal event in our history - an event that set Canada on the road to nationhood,” said Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, Co-Chair of the City of Toronto Bicentennial of the War of 1812 Steering Committee. “The 1812 bicentennial promises to be a celebration of our pride in Toronto’s distinctive cultural fabric and heritage. Throughout the bicentennial and beyond, residents and visitors will come to know Toronto as a place like no other.”

“Council’s support for the 1812 bicentennial program is a new and important investment in major cultural infrastructure that continues to build Toronto’s brand as a global cultural capital and premier tourism destination,” added Rita Davies, Executive Director of Cultural Services for the City.

Phase One of the bicentennial celebrations is expected to launch in June 2012 on the anniversary of the declaration of war with the inauguration of the legacy projects and continue throughout that summer. Phase Two would launch special programming on April 27, 2013 at Fort York and Old Town to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of York that saw the town pillaged and the first Parliament buildings burned by American troops, and conclude with a Tall Ships event in June 2013.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact: Rita Davies, Executive Director, Cultural Services, 416-397-5323,



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