On Saturday morning, after catching up over brunch, we decided to go to a neighbourhood that Sophie didn’t get to see during her visit last year, The Beaches. The weather was perfect for it and we even came across a Taiwan Day festival along the way in Woodbine Park. This time last year, we were visiting Taiwan, so it was a nice reminder of the sights and smells (aka stinky tofu) of the place. We continued on to The Beaches neighbourhood and walked along the boardwalk while picking up our first ice creams of the season.
On Sunday morning, we went to Aroma Coffee to start off our day of exploring. We then made our way to Fort York via the subway to St. Andrew Station and then an interesting wander all the way to the Fort, about half an hour, walking past train tracks and new builds. When we arrived at the Fort, we did have a bit of trouble actually finding the entrance, as there is quite a bit of construction in the area but once we found the “Main Entrance” signs we eventually got there.
Fort York was initially constructed starting in 1793 by British and Canadian troops, for the purpose of defending the capital of Upper Canada from the newly-independent United States. The major action that the Fort saw was during the War of 1812 when American army and navy forces attacked Fort York from Lake Ontario, on April 27, 1813. As the attack progressed and was looking less hopeful for the British (and Canadian and First Nations) troops, they abandoned the garrison and set fire to the powder magazine, killing or wounding hundreds of American troops. The United States then proceeded to destroy what was left of the fort and burned the settlement of York, now Toronto, including the Parliament Buildings. The American flag then flew over York for one week.
Following several more U.S. raids over the summer, the British garrison returned to York and rebuilt the fortifications, most of which are still standing today. Another invasion was attempted in 1814, but the British/Canadian/First Nations troops fended off the attackers.
The only other threats to Fort York over the years have come in the form of infrastructure development, with a proposed streetcar route in the early twentieth century, and a highway in the 1950s, both cutting through the site. These development plans were luckily thwarted. Nowadays, 43 acres of Fort York are a National Historic Site and remain as Canada's largest collection of original War of 1812-era buildings.
So after we learned lots of background in the visitor’s center, we headed outside to see the buildings for ourselves. But first, a picnic. With a view.
After exploring the entire site, we took the long way back and stopped to get some Thai food. We headed back to the apartment and watched a few more episodes of Master of None before Sophie had to go to the airport.
We had a great weekend with Sophie, exploring some places we had been before and discovering some new ones. Here are some more photos of our weekend adventures: