New Fort York

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New Fort York
at the mouth of Garrison Creek, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Stanley Barracks.jpg
The Officers' Mess, the only surviving building of New Fort York
Type military base for the settlement
Site history
Built 1840
Materials Queenston limestone

New Fort York was built to replace Toronto's original Fort York at the mouth of Garrison Creek as the primary military base for the settlement. Unlike the older fort, it was not made of wood but with limestone and did not have a wall as protection (planned and never built).


The Ontario Heritage Foundation erected a plaque in 1963 on the grounds of the museum at Exhibition Place, Lake Shore Boulevard East, Toronto, ON. The British army established a military post here in 1840-41 to replace aging Fort York. Known as the New Fort, it consisted of seven limestone buildings around a parade square, and a number of lesser structures. Massive defensive works were planned for the perimeter but never built. In 1893 the fort was renamed Stanley Barracks in honour of Governor Lord Stanley. Canadian forces assumed responsibility for the post in 1870 and garrisoned it until 1947. The barracks then served as public housing until the early 1950s, when all but this building, the Officers’ Quarters, were demolished. [1]


A series of six stone buildings were constructed in what is now the Canadian National Exhibition grounds around 1840 by the Royal Engineers of the British Army with the biggest building being the Officers' Quarters. The two storey Queenston limestone structure cost 19,000 pounds and housed troops following the 1837 Rebellion.

Other features of the fort included:

  • five smaller builds for troops and storage
  • parading grounds
  • stockade

British troops left the fort in 1870.

Troops stationed at the fort over the years:

The North-West Mounted Police also used the facility for training in the 1870s.

New Fort York was renamed the Stanley Barracks[3] in 1893 after the Governor General of Canada at that time, Lord Stanley of Preston (of hockey's Stanley Cup fame).

German Prisoners of War at Exhibition

During World War I, the barracks housed German, Austro-Hungarian, and Turkish citizens, who were interned there as enemy aliens. The barracks were last used during World War II when the Canadian troops were stationed there prior to being sent overseas. All the fort's buildings and other exhibition building housed the troops.

Post-World War II[edit]

After the war, most of the buildings became vacant. The Stanley Barracks were mostly demolished in 1953. The gates to the barracks (gate doors forged in England in 1839) were salvaged in 1957, however, and were re-erected in Toronto on Kingston Rd. at Guildwood Parkway, at the entrance to Guildwood Village, where they may still be viewed.[2] Lights replaced the stone globes on the top of the gate posts. The Officers' Mess building can still be found on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition, but it is now vacant.

The building served as the home for Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, Hockey Hall of Fame and the Toronto Maritime Museum.

Today only one of the original buildings survives. The Officers' Quarters, generally called the 'Stanley Barracks', became home to the city–owned Toronto Maritime Museum from 1958 to 1998 before it moved to Harbourfront. The museum has since closed and Stanley Barracks is vacant once again. The Barracks was open one weekend in May 2006 during Doors Open Toronto.

The grounds of the fort were the former home to another a piece of Toronto history; the tugboat Ned Hanlan was on display on the west side of the building, but was not open to the public. In June 2012, she was moved to a new home on Hanlan's Point on the Toronto Islands.[3]

Canadian National locomotive No. 6213 was located on the east side from 1960 until 2009. In 2009, it was moved to Roundhouse Park to become the centrepiece of the Toronto Railway Historical Association's railway museum.[4] The U-2 class Northern-type locomotive, built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1942, was retired from service in 1959 and given to the City of Toronto in 1960.[5]

Foundations of some of the buildings still survive. A hotel planned adjacent to the site will expose some of the foundations as part of the project.[6] Also, the existing building, Officers Quarter, will be the centrepiece of a new park in CNE, which will include a water feature indicating the former shores of Lake Ontario.[7]

See also[edit]


Coordinates: 43°38′20″N 79°24′12″W / 43.63900°N 79.40327°W / 43.63900; -79.40327