After the war, the fort was rebuilt and its garrison made a considerable contribution to the development of Toronto, as York was renamed in 1834. The British army moved out in 1870 and their Canadian replacements stayed for another sixty years; the fort was opened as a museum in 1934. Throughout the summer, costumed guides give the low-down on colonial life and free plans of the fort are issued at reception.
The fort’s carefully restored, deep and thick, earth and stone ramparts are low-lying and constructed in a zigzag pattern, both to mitigate against enemy artillery and to provide complementary lines of fire. They enclose a haphazard sequence of log, stone and brick buildings, most notably a couple of well-preserved blockhouses, complete with heavy timbers and snipers’ loopholes. There are also reconstructions of the stone and brick powder magazine, which has 2m-thick walls and spark-proof copper and brass fixtures; the Blue Barracks, the former junior officers’ quarters; and the old officers’ quarters and mess, which have several period rooms and two original money vaults, hidden away in the cellar. Of the several buildings featuring exhibitions on the fort and its history, the most diverting are the archeological display exhibiting various bits and pieces unearthed at the fort, including buckles, brooches, plates, clay pipes and tunic buttons, and a substantial collection of colonial armaments. The latter includes a Gatling gun like the one used against the Métis, a rare and cumbersome rampart gun of 1793, which acted like a cross between a rifle and a small artillery piece, and a furnace for heating up cannon balls – hence “hot shot”.