Near the end of 2013 the Fort York Foundation received three particularly meaningful gifts towards the building of the Visitor Centre. One came from Mrs. Marianne Girling; another from her daughter and son-in-law, Karen Girling and Bruce MacLellan; and a third from the Upper Canada Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Marianne Girling who gave securities valued at well into the five-figure range is a great-great granddaughter of Capt. John Denison. Her link to Canada and Toronto dates from the eighteenth century when Capt. Denison immigrated here at the urging of Hon. Peter Russell. His descendants now number several hundred in the Toronto area and beyond.

Bruce MacLellan and Karen Girling made their first gift to Fort York two years ago. But after visiting the site with Foundation Chair Andrew Stewart, Executive Director Susan Perren, and Chief Curator Wayne Reeves in autumn 2013 they made a pledge equally generous as Mrs. Girling’s gift. Speaking as one, the donors shared their hopes for an expanded role for the fort: “Our family believes in the importance of making Canadian history accessible to people. Starting as newcomers in the 1790s, our Denison ancestors played a part in building and defending Canada, including at the Battle of York. Newcomers from all around the world are still building Canada and this visitors’ centre will help them learn about our great country.”

The Upper Canada Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is part of a patriotic service organization founded in 1890 for American women. In November 2012 three of its members visited Fort York, and toured the site, including the kitchens, before presenting a cheque for $1000 to Andrew Stewart. The DAR’s generosity is much appreciated and takes its place alongside other acts of goodwill to, and American interest in, Fort York, for example, a memorial plaque to Gen. Zebulon Pike erected in 1934 by the National Society of the United States Daughters of 1812, and a sugar maple planted along the south ramparts in 1968 by the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.