Fort York-centred Annotated Bibliography

Incorporating the Bibliography in Historic Fort York: 1793–1993

by Carl Benn (1993) and more recent publications

Friends of Fort York and Garrison Common – History and Archaeology Committee 

(date of this version: 29 Sept 2007)


This bibliography provides a comprehensive guide to major published sources of information about Historic Fort York, Toronto. Fort York National Historic Site, including the burial ground in Victoria Memorial Square and Garrison Common, is one of Canada's most important historic forts. Established in 1793 by Upper Canada's Lieutenant–Governor, John Graves Simcoe, its use spans the Frontier War of the 1790s, the War of 1812, the Rebellion of 1837, the Anglo–American tensions of the 1860s, and the nineteenth–century period of defence of Upper Canada by the British army, along with the late nineteenth and early twentieth–century Canadian army garrisoning of Toronto. It retains a hugely significant collection of original War of 1812 buildings – the largest, certainly, in Canada and probably anywhere. Fort York today also comprises one of the country's largest urban archaeological sites – especially when the battlefield to the west (Battle of York, 1813) under the open land in the eastern part of Exhibition Place is considered. Fort York has been the subject of scholarly studies focused on its archaeology (Gerrard), architecture (Benn "The Blockhouses"), military significance, and social milieu (Benn "British Army Officer Housing").

The most comprehensive history of Fort York to date is Historic Fort York: 1793–1993 (Benn HFY) – an illustrated 191–page history of the fort, including an exploration of the Battle of York and the New Fort to the west. This bibliography is an updated version of the bibliography found in that book.

Scope of bibliography:

Included in this bibliography are published primary sources but not primary materials (including many maps, for instance) that are in manuscript or microfilm form. These primary materials may be found by consulting the references in many of Benn's publications. Internal research documents (e.g., technical architectural and archaeological reports) that are hard to access are also not included. To compensate for this absence, we include a list of report series and their locations (in the next section). On the other hand, major stand–alone reports (e.g., major planning and vision documents – see under "Friends of Fort York and Garrison Common") are included as individual items in the bibliography. Most of these documents are found in the fort's library (research centre), and can be seen by appointment.

Report series:

Note on sources:

The pre–1993 entries in this bibliography are derived from the "Select Bibliography" in Benn (HFY:179–184). Many of the more recent entries and annotations in this bibliography are derived, in part, from "Bibliography of Toronto History Since 1990" (7th ed.), compiled and annotated by Carl Benn. Online document:


Alley, Herbert Ruttan. Fort York, Toronto: An Historical Sketch. Toronto: Toronto Civic Historical Committee, 1954.

Andre, John. Infant Toronto as Simcoe's Folly. Toronto: Centennial Press, 1971.
[This is a controversial work disputing Simcoe's importance in the establishment of York and suggests that William Berczy deserves much of the credit. Benn HFY 180].

Benn, Carl. "Another Fine Mess: The Restoration of an 1815 Officers' Mess." Explore Historic Toronto, 1993.
―. The Battle of York. Belleville: Mika, 1984.
―. "The Blockhouses of Toronto: A Material History Study." Material History Review 42 (1995): 22–38.
―. "British Army Officer Housing in Upper Canada, 1784–1841." Material History Review 44 (1996): 79–96.
―. Fort York: A Short History and Guide. Toronto: City of Toronto Culture, 2007.
―. "Fort York and the Birth of Yonge Street." Explore Historic Toronto, 1996.
―. "Fort York and the Yonge Street Rebellion." Explore Historic Toronto, 1996.
―. "Free–Standing Bombproof Gunpowder Magazines of the War of 1812 Period in Upper Canada." Arms Collecting 29 (1991).
      [Contains material about the two Fort York magazines. Benn HFY 180].
―. Historic Fort York, 1793–1993. Toronto: Natural Heritage / Natural History Inc., 1993.
―. "The Military Context of the Founding of Toronto." Ontario History 81 (1989): 303–22.
―. "Relics of the Rebellion: The Money Vaults at Historic Fort York." Explore Historic Toronto, 1995.
―. "Research at Fort York Expands Images of 19th Century Military Life." Explore Historic Toronto 1 (1991).
―. "Toronto Harbour and the Defence of the Great Lakes Region, 1783–1870." The Northern Mariner 4.1 (1994): 1–15.
―. "Toronto's Forgotten Fort." Explore Historic Toronto 2 (1992). [Stanley Barracks].
―. "The York Militia Colours." The Fife and Drum 11.2 (July 2007): 5–6.

Benn, Carl, ed. "An American Spy's Report on Fort York, 1840." The York Pioneer 98 (2003): 18–22.

Benn, Carl et al. Fort York: A Master Plan for Redevelopment. Toronto: Toronto Historical Board, 1990.

Bradford, Robert D. Historic Forts of Ontario. Belleville: Mika, 1988. [Chapter 5 is about Fort York. Benn HFY 180].

Brandis, Marianne. Fire Ship. Erin: Porcupine Press, 1992. [A children's novel focused on the Battle of York. Benn HFY 180].

Breede, Claus. "A Manual Analysis of a Fixed Current Electrode (FCE) Resistivity Survey at Fort York, Toronto." Toronto: University of Toronto, 1977.

"The Capture of York." The York Pioneer 62 (1967).

Cross, David. "The Battle of York, April 27, 1813: A Much–needed American Victory." Battlefields Review 18 (2002): 23–30.
[Non–expert account; use instead Stacey, Battle of Little York and relevant chapter of Benn HFY].

Cruickshank, Ernest, ed. Documentary History of the Campaigns on the Niagara Frontier. Niagara: Niagara Historical Society, 1902–08.
[The nine volumes in this collection contain a significant amount of data related to Fort York and Toronto during the war, including a significant collection of data on the 1813 battle of York].

Cumberland, Barlow. The Battle of York: An Account of the Eight Hours' Battle from the Humber Bay to the Old Fort in the Defense of York on the 27th April, 1813.
Toronto: William Briggs, 1913.

***―. Memorandum to Accompany Plans of the Restoration of Old Fort York. Submitted to the representatives of the historical military and patriotic societies at a meeting in the Canadian Institute, 12th January, 1909. Toronto. 1909.

"Description of the Attack and Occupation of York." Women's Canadian Historical Society of Toronto Transactions 5 (1905).

Dodds, Douglas. British Regiments Contact Project. Toronto: Friends of Fort York, 2006.
[A list of all British and Canadian Regiments which served at Fort York with the current contact information].

Feather, Donald and George Waters. Fort York. Scarborough: Ginn, 1972.

Firth, Edith G. ed. The Town of York. Toronto: Champlain Society, 1962, 1966.
[The two volumes of this collection of documents contain a considerable quantity of material about Fort York and Toronto's military history in the 1793–1834 period].

***Fort York: Heritage Conservation District Study. Toronto City Planning and Development Department, 1984.

***Fort York Ideas Workshop. City of Toronto Urban Development Services, 1997.
[A summary of the proceedings from the Fort York Ideas Workshop, Sept. 27/28, 1996].

"Fort York Wins a Modern Battle." Ontario History 51 (1959): 22–24.
[Re: the fight to save Fort York from being moved for the Gardiner Expressway. Benn HFY 180].

***Friends of Fort York and the Fort York Management Board. Fort York: Setting It Right. Toronto, 2000.
[Place of the fort and other heritage sites in the developing environment of the Bathurst–Strachan neighbourhood].

Friends of Fort York, Fort York Management Board, and the City of Toronto Culture Division. Fort York: Adding New Buildings. Toronto, 2005.
[Enhancement of historic site interpretation].

Geeson, Jean. The Old Fort at Toronto, 1793–1906. Toronto: William Briggs, 1906.

Gerrard, Richard. "Beyond Crossmends: A Statistical Examination of Infiltrated and Residual Remains in Ceramic Assemblages to Historic Fort York. Fort York Archaeology programme, 1988. [MS available in Fort York Library].

Gibbins, Peter. "Swords: Recent Artifacts Acquisitions at Historic Fort York." The Birthplace of Toronto: The Newsletter of Historic Fort York 1.3 (Winter 2004): 3–4.

Haynes, R. "A Place Worthy of Pilgrimage: The IODE and Fort York's Military Burial Ground." The Fife and Drum 9.1 (Nov. 2005): 5–6.

***Historic Fort York: An Architectural and Engineering Study. March 1987. Prepared by Quadrangle Architects Limited. Rev. Oct. 1987. Toronto.

***Historic Fort York: A Vision–Centred Business Plan. Toronto: Friends of Fort York, 1997.

Humphrey, Gladys. Victoria Memorial Park Cemetery c. 1793–1862. Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch, 1998.

Humphries, Charles W. "The Capture of York." Ontario History 51 (1959): 1–21.

Hutchins, John M. General Zebulon Pike Reaches the Summit of Glory: The Battle of York, April 27,1813. Lakewood CO: Avrooman–Apfel Worl Press, 2006.

Jarvis, Eric. "The Great Disruption: Toronto, Canada West, and the American Civil War." In Celebrating One Thousand Years of Ontario's History, ed. Colin Agnew et al., 173–80. Toronto: Ontario Historical Society, 2000.

Juliusson, David. "Spreading the News in 1813." The Fife and Drum 11.2 (July 2007): 7.

Laverton, Chris. "The Garrison Well House Reconstruction at Fort York National Historic Site." 2009.
[Unpublished document available at Fort York Library].

Malcomson, Robert. "The Artillery at the Capture of York." The Fife and Drum 12.1 ( Mar. 2008): 2–3.
―. Capital in Flames: The American Attack on York, 1813. Montreal: Robin Brass Studio, 2008.
―. "Proceed Directly to York: Why the Americans Attacked Little York." The Fife and Drum, 11.3 (Oct. 2007): 3–4.
―. "Sheaffe Fudged the Figures at York" The Fife and Drum 11.4 (Dec. 2007): 4–5.

McDayter, Mark. "Structural History of Fort York." 1988. [MS available at Fort York Library].

Mecredy, Clarke. "A Study of the Dating Techniques Using Military Buttons at Two Ontario Military Sites." Student paper, Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, 1976.

Newlands, David. L. "Clay Tobacco Pipes from Fort York." Archaeological Newsletter ( New Series) 155 (April 1978). Royal Ontario Museum.
―. "The Fort York Guardhouse." Archaeological Newsletter (New Series) 118 (1972). Royal Ontario Museum.
―. " Register of Artifacts from Fort York Excavations 1973–1975." [Unpublished report available at Fort York Library].

Otto, Stephen. "Defenders of the Fort: Part 1 Jean Geeson." The Fife and Drum 7.3 (Feb. 2004): 2
―. "Garrison Common History: The Western Park." The Fife and Drum 9.4 (Aug. 2005): 2.
―. "Strachan Avenue Military Burying Ground." The Fife and Drum 3.2 (June 1999): 5–8.

Purvis, Ken. "Once More into the Breach: The Secret Lives of Toronto's Guns." The Fife and Drum 9.4 (Aug. 2005): 5–6.

"Recollections of a Sailor." Military and Naval Magazine of the United States 3 (1834).

Recollections of the War of 1812: Three Eye Witnesses' Accounts (Shadrach Byfield, P. Finan, Elias Darnell). The Canadian Heritage Series. Baxter Publishing, 1964.

Rudman, Michael J. "The Graveyard Shift." Historic Toronto 2.3 (1998): 3–10
―. "The History of these Graves." The York Pioneer 94 (1999).
―. The Old Garrison Burying Ground 1794–1862. n.p., 1977.

Sendzikas, Aldona. "The Last Bastion: The Story of the Stanley Barracks." MA thesis, University of Toronto, 1990.
[MS, including photos, available at Fort York Library].

"Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe and the Defence of York." Anglo–American Magazine 3 (1853).
[This magazine published a detailed history of the War of 1812 (including documents). The history was then reprinted in book form as: Auchinleck, Gilbert. A History of the War between Great Britain and the United States during the Years 1812, 1813 & 1814. Toronto: Maclear and Company, 1855; reprinted London: Arms and Armour Press, 1972. Benn HFY 179).

Spittal, David. "Great East Gate of Fort York." The Fife and Drum 10.3 (Sept. 2006): 4–5.
―. "Privies, Latrines and Wells at the Fort." The Fife and Drum 8.3 (Jan. 2005): 5–6.
―. "Recent Archaeology at the Fort." The Fife and Drum 7.3 (Feb. 2004): 2.

Stacey, Charles P. The Battle of Little York. Toronto: City of Toronto Culture Division, 2002.
[First published 1963. Short publication on the War of 1812 battle and occupation in 1813].

Stuart, Jacqueline. "The Old Military Burial Ground – Toronto." The York Pioneer 70.1 (1983): 1–7.

Trowbridge, Amasa. "Account and Sketch of the Battle of York." Amasa Trowbridge Papers, Library of Congress / Manuscript Division.

Vaccarelli, Vito. "An Archaeological Perspective of [Fort] York's Cultural Landscape." Ontario Archaeology 64 (1997): 81–111.
[Badly printed and edited study based on Vacarelli's 1993 paper cited below].
―. "Constructing and Interpreting Fort York's Cultural Landscape, 1793–1993." 1993. [MS available at Fort York Library].

Waters, G.E., G.G. McNicholl and D.L. Newlands." The Search for the Fort York Guardhouse." Archaeological Newsletter (New Series) 118 (1979). Royal Ontario Museum.

Webb, Catherine. "1990 Fort York Archaeological Project." Annual Archaeological Report, Ontario Heritage Foundation (New Series) 2 (1991): 14–18.
[South Soldiers' Barracks and Officers' Brick Barracks and Mess Establishment].
― "1991 Fort York Archaeological Project: Investigation of the 1814–15 Powder Magazine. Annual Archaeological Report, Ontario Heritage Foundation (New Series) 3 (1992): 11–15. [Brick Magazine and Stone Magazine].
― "1992 Fort York Archaeological Project: Investigation of the 1813–14 Blockhouses and the 1826 Kitchen Wing of the 1814–15 Officers' Quarters." Annual Archaeological Report, Ontario Heritage Foundation (New Series) 4 (1993): 115–20.