Fort Rouillé

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Fort Rouillé
Fort Rouille 2008.jpg
Established 1750–1759
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Fort Rouillé and Fort Toronto[1] were French trading posts located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Fort Rouillé was named for Antoine Louis Rouillé, who at the time of its establishment around 1750 was Secretary of State for the Navy in the administration of Louis XV. It was abandoned in 1759 due to the turbulence of the Seven Years' War.[2] The fort site is now part of the public lands of Exhibition Place. The fort was built by missionary Father François Xavier Dufaux. It is also the name of a short street, located approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) north of the fort site, that is part of the Dufferin St. streetcar loop.

Three French fortifications were located in what is now known as Toronto:


Fort Rouillé in 1750

Its construction was ordered by the Marquis de la Jonquière, then governor of New France, in order to further establish a French presence in the area, and to intercept the trade of Indians travelling towards a British fur-trading post in present-day Oswego. It was a small palisaded fort with a bastion at each of its four corners, and containing five main buildings: a corps de garde, storeroom, barracks, blacksmithy, and a building for the officers. A drawing [1] purported to date from 1749 shows the fort adjacent to Lake Ontario, whereas today it is situated on top of a small hill a hundred metres or so from the lake's current shoreline.

The fort was abandoned and burned by the French garrison in July 1759, who were recalled to reinforce Quebec City from the invading British forces. Vestiges of the fort remained for many years afterwards, but the site was graded over and sodded in preparation for the establishment of the nearby Scadding Cabin in 1879.

The fort was named for Antoine Louis Rouillé, comte de Jouy and French Minister of Marine and Colonies.[3]

A first hand account of the fort describes the fort. “The fort of Toronto was at the end of the bay, on the side which is quire elevated and covered by flat rock, so that vessels cannot approach within cannon shot. This fort or post was a square about 180 feet on a side externally with flanks of fifteen feet. The curtains formed the buildings of the fort. It was very well built, piece upon piece, but was only useful for trade. A league west of the fort is the mouth of the Toronto river, which is of considerable size. The river communicates with Lake Huron by a portage of 15 leagues, and is frequented by the Indians, who come from the north.” [4]

After the destruction of Fort Rouille no attempt was made to re-establish a settlement in the vicinity until more than thirty years later when Governor Simcoe laid down the foundations of York in 1793, four miles east of the French stockade.[5]


Fort Rouille was made up of five structures. A wall surrounded the fort with an entrance to the south facing Lake Ontario and a small road (chemin). Captain Gother Mann showed the layout in his map, “Plan of the Proposed Toronto Harbour,” dated December 6, 1788. The map shows five buildings in the stockade as well as the bounds of the quadrangle enclosed by the palisades.[6]

The 180 ft x 180 ft fort consisted of five buildings:

  • Smithy
  • Soldiers' Quarters
  • Senior Officers' Quarters
  • Magazine House
  • Kitchen

Fort Rouillé Monument[edit]

Fort Rouillé Monument at Exhibition Place.

In the summer of 1887, a large obelisk was unveiled to mark the spot where the original French-built Fort Rouillé was erected. The obelisk is now located at Exhibition Place, just west of the Humber River.

The grounds were excavated in 1979 and 1980 by the Toronto Historical Board, and again in 1982 by the Youth Committee of the Toronto Sesquicentennial Board. The outline of the original fort has been marked out in concrete around the obelisk. Two commemorative plaques – one in English, and one in French – are attached to the base of the obelisk, placed there by the Ontario Heritage Foundation. To the north a third plaque commemorates the excavation done on the site, and to the west a fourth plaque commemorates a visit to the site by Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris, on 6 September 2003.

A concrete outline of the original fort is marked on the ground and is visible here.

The obelisk is flanked by a cannon and a mortar, dating from the 1850s. Perhaps ironically, they are all British. A second cannon, present on the west side of the obelisk as recently as 2005, has since been removed.


The English-language plaque erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1957 at the Fort Rouillé monument reads:

The last French post built in present-day southern Ontario, Fort Rouillé, more commonly known as Fort Toronto, was erected on this site in 1750-51. It was established by order of the Marquis de La Jonquière, Governor of New France, to help strengthen French control of the Great Lakes and was located here near an important portage to capture the trade of Indians travelling southeast toward the British fur- trading centre at Oswego. A small frontier post, Fort Rouillé was a palisaded fortification with four bastions and five main buildings. It apparently prospered until hostilities between the French and British increased in the mid-1750s. After the evacuation of other French posts on Lake Ontario, Fort Rouillé was destroyed by its garrison in July 1759.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Urban Change in Toronto: A Timeline
  2. ^ Peppiatt, Liam. "Chapter 31A: Fort Rouille". Robertson's Landmarks of Toronto Revisited. 
  3. ^ Peppiatt, Liam. "Chapter 31A: Fort Rouille". Robertson's Landmarks of Toronto Revisited. 
  4. ^ Peppiatt, Liam. "Chapter 31A: Fort Rouille". Robertson's Landmarks of Toronto Revisited. 
  5. ^ Peppiatt, Liam. "Chapter 31B: Fort York". Robertson's Landmarks of Toronto Revisited. 
  6. ^ Peppiatt, Liam. "Chapter 31A: Fort Rouille". Robertson's Landmarks of Toronto Revisited. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°37′50.23″N 79°25′24.80″W / 43.6306194°N 79.4235556°W / 43.6306194; -79.4235556