by David O’Hara, Site Manager

As part of Fort York’s usual calendar of events, 2014 began with Queen Charlotte’s Birthday Ball on January 18. The day included afternoon dance workshops, a presentation by Chief Curator Wayne Reeves, and a Georgian inspired buffet supper. After hosting a cooking class on Georgian desserts in early February, staff and volunteers of our Historic Foodways Program worked closely with the Culinary Historians of Canada on the eighth annual, and sold-out, Mad for Marmalade, Crazy for Citron! on February 22.

Also in February, as part of Black History Month, we were extremely grateful that Lt. Danielle Pittman, Canadian Armed Forces, was able to join us to present Moving Mountains: The No. 2 Construction Battalion and African Canadian Experience during the First World War. The No.2 Construction Battalion, a predominantly Black unit, served with distinction overseas during the ‘Great War.’ This was the first of many events and programs that we expect to roll out over the coming months as we begin to do our part in commemorating the centenary of the Great War.

In late January / early February we hosted a new artist-in-residence program. This was the first of four artistic residencies by Toronto modern dance company pounds per square inch. Their site-specific Art of Peace Project, to be created over the next two years on site in the fort’s Blue Barracks, will be performed in February 2016.

Our 2014 calendar is a full one. In addition to many core events, we have an exhibition by visual artist Phil Cote scheduled in April, along with one of our annual Citizenship ceremonies on the 25th, and community clean-up day on April 26th. Our main event season kicks off in late May and early June with Doors Open, The Grid Burger Festival, the Arts and Crafts Field Trip, and our own Indigenous Arts Festival.

Construction of the new Visitor Centre is moving along, with recent work on all mechanical systems, framing, and the roof membrane finished and the building fully enclosed. Interior work, including drywall and door installation, is underway and the building is scheduled for occupancy in late June/early July. Although subject to change, the current plan is to open the building in September with a series of events and inaugural exhibitions and installations related to the Great War. Several of the permanent exhibits will be installed in early 2015. While a major phase of the landscape master plan will be implemented in 2014, most of the work will be undertaken later in the year when the Visitor Centre is complete and the major event season has concluded.