Toronto in Toronto County, Ontario — Central Canada
No. 2 (Centre) Blockhouse
The first structures built at Fort York during the War of 1812 where blockhouses to house the soldiers. Thick, square-timbered walls (covered with ‘weather boards’) offered protection from bullets, exploding shells and small-calibre artillery. Loopholes and windows allowed defenders to fire back at attackers. When the fort’s earthworks were completed in 1814, soldiers could retreat into the blockhouses if the exterior walls were overrun. During the Rebellion of 1837, this building gained a ditch, a musket proof parapet and bulletproof window blinds.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 10, 2014
1. No. 2 (Centre) Blockhouse Marker
Click on the image to enlarge the panel and view the captioned map and plans.
Captions: (left) This map shows the fort being rebuilt after the two American attacks in 1813. The three blockhouses provided ‘front-line’ protection before the rest of the fort’s walls were built. The west-end blockhouse apparently caught fire during construction and was not replaced. (Map by George Williams, Royal Military Surveyor and Draughtsman, 1813, Library and Archives Canada). (center) The British army built 13 blockhouses in Toronto between 1793 and 1838. The town blockhouse of 1798 was intended to protect the civilian community from attack during a period of tension with the local Mississaugaus. Its diagonal upper floor improved the field field of fire, and was a common feature in blockhouses built outside larger fortifications. (Plan by Captain William Graham, York Militia, 1798, Library and Archives Canada). (right) The 1813-14 Gibraltar Point Blockhouse
In 1813-14, a blockhouse was built at Gibraltar Point south of the harbour channel opposite the fort. It had an open deck on its upper floor for artillery, a traversing platform to maximize the gun’s field of fire, and could heat ‘hot shot’ to set enemy ships on fire. The walls had a double layer of logs filled with tightly-packed earth or rubble. (Modern drawing, based on a plan by Lieutenant Elias Durnford, Royal Engineers, 1823, Library and Archives of Canada).
As well as barracks, the blockhouses served as storage facilities, emergency housing for immigrants in the 1820s, hospitals during the cholera epidemic in the 1830s and drill sheds for the militia after 1867.
Location. 43° 38.348′ N, 79° 24.172′ W. Marker is in Toronto, Ontario, in Toronto County. Marker can be reached from Fort York Boulevard, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 250 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3K9, Canada.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 kilometers of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Battle of York 1813 (about 180 meters away, measured in a direct line); Little Norway (approx. half a kilometer
away); The Bishop’s Palace 1818 (approx. 1.7 kilometers away); The Royal York Hotel (approx. 1.9 kilometers away); South African War Memorial (approx. 1.9 kilometers away); Canadian Airmen Monument (approx. 2.1 kilometers away); Charles William Jefferys (approx. 2.5 kilometers away); The Macdonald-Mowat House (approx. 2.6 kilometers away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Toronto.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 10, 2014
2. No. 2 (Centre) Blockhouse Marker
The marker is on the left in the blockhouse's shadow.
More about this marker. The parking lot and entrance to Fort York is on Garrison Street.
Categories. • Forts, Castles •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 1, 2017. This page originally submitted on May 26, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 224 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on May 26, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.