One Venue - Four Exhibits

Now appearing at the Fort York Visitor Centre are four exhibits. The Great War is explored in three exhibits which include; uniforms, weapons, family keep sakes and art. The most recent exhibit is, Gertrude Kearns: The Art of Command: Portraits and Posters from Canada's Afghan Mission. A visual exploration of the engagement between Canada's military and conflicts around the world.

The Great War-in Your Cellar, Closet or Storage Locker!

Typical Canadian Objects from the First World War

September 19, 2014 - September 2015

At home, you come across an old khaki tunic and cap, a box of medals and badges, and a vase made from a brass cylinder with strange markings on its base. These objects belonged to your grandfather, a soldier in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War (1914-18). What are these things and what do they mean?

This exhibition in the Fort York Visitor Centre's lobby draws on the City of Toronto's artifact collection to tell the story of typical small objects reflecting Canada's participation in the Great War.  Some may have been used on the Western Front; others may have gotten only as far as England. Others never left the home front.

Still other objects seem to have no Canadian connection at all. They represent war decorations and souvenirs from countries who were Canada's allies or enemies. They remind us that "the war to end all wars" was truly global, affecting every continent except Antarctica. Canada's rich pattern of immigration means that your attic, cellar or closet may hold objects similar to the ones displayed here, but with quite different national origins.
Sponsored by AGF Investments Inc.

Outfitted for War: Canadian Uniforms and Weapons of the First World War

September 19, 2014 - September 2015

The smallest exhibit area in the Fort York Visitor Centre – the Vault – is the setting for rarely or never seen before objects from the City's artifact collection. Outfitted for War consists of five display cases and associated text and image panels.

Each of four vertical cases contains a uniform representing different forms of service by Torontonians during the Great War: a private and a lieutenant from the Canadian Expeditionary Force, a nursing sister from the Canadian Army Medical Corps, and a private from the Royal Flying Corps.

A fourth case contains three iconic weapons of the Canadian Expeditionary Force: a Canadian-made Ross Rifle Mk III (Model 1910) with bayonet, the favourite of Minister of Militia Sir Sam Hughes; a British-made Short Magazine Lee-Enfield No. 1 Mk III* Rifle with bayonet, which generally replaced the Ross after it failed under battlefield conditions; and a British-made Vickers, Sons & Maxim Medium Machine Gun No. 2 Mk I, the weapon of choice for Canadian machine gun corps.
Sponsored by AGF Investments Inc.

Art and the Great War: A Toronto Perspective Featuring works from the City of Toronto's Artifact, Fine Art & Archival Collections

September 19, 2014 - September 2015

This exhibition in the Changing Exhibits Gallery looks at visual and decorative art relating to the First World War through a Toronto lens. Besides being drawn exclusively from various City of Toronto collections, all 15 works on display are tied to interesting Toronto stories organized around four thematic sections. Each section, in turn, focuses on a different artistic endeavour: painting, photography, graphic design and three-dimensional decorative objects. A small number of images and artifacts accompany the artworks.
Sponsored by AGF Investments Inc.

Gertrude Kearns: The Art of Command: Portraits and Posters from Canada's Afghan Mission
Until Sunday, June 14, 2015

Since 1991, Toronto artist Gertrude Kearns has explored the engagement between Canada's military and conflicts around the world. In 2005-06, she was embedded with Canadian Forces in Afghanistan while on contract with the Department of National Defence.
Following the DND commission, Kearns has continued to address the Afghan Mission while working as an independent artist.  Between 2006 and 2015, Kearns created the 46 portraits and posters appearing in The Art of Command. Most of these works appear on public display for the first time.
Drawing on Kearns' unprecedented access to senior Canadian officers who served in Afghanistan, this exhibition focuses on the complexities and consequences of military command in challenging situations.
The Art of Command contains two parallel but related components. The portrait component comprises 20 large paintings and drawings of individual commanders. The poster component consists of 26 texted art prints. Each poster incorporates an image of a portrait; the accompanying text was developed in consultation with the subject.  
While Kearns has been hailed as Canada's leading active contemporary war artist, her earlier work on Somalia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia prompted debate about the relationship between art and conflict. As some works in The Art of Command contain provocative images and strong language, this exhibition may not be appropriate for all audiences.