Fort Rouillé

Fort Rouillé or Fort Toronto was a French trading post located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that was established around 1750 but abandoned in 1759. The fort site is now part of the public lands of Exhibition Place. It is also the name of a street, located approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) north of the fort site, running south from Springhurst Avenue to the railway tracks.

It was one of two French fortifications in Toronto. Magasin Royale was built near Old Mill by Phillipe Dourville, sieur de la Saussaye in 1720. The wooden magazine was similar to the one built in Lewiston, New York (likely the French forts or trading post located now in Fort Niagara).

History

Its construction was ordered by the Marquis de la Jonquière, then governor of New France, in order to further establish a French presence in the area, and to intercept the trade of Indians travelling towards an English fur-trading post in present-day Oswego. It was a small palisaded fort with a bastion at each of its four corners, and containing five main buildings: a corps de garde, storeroom, barracks, blacksmithy, and a building for the officers. A drawing purported to date from 1749 shows the fort adjacent to Lake Ontario, whereas today it is situated on top of a small hill a hundred metres or so from the lake's current shoreline.

The fort was abandoned and burned by the French garrison in July 1759, who were retreating from invading English forces. Vestiges of the fort remained for many years afterwards, but the site was graded over and sodded in preparation for the establishment of the nearby Scadding Cabin in 1879.

The fort was named for Antoine Louis Rouillé, comte de Jouy and French Minister of Marine and Colonies.

Structure

A wall surrounded the fort with an entrance to the south facing Lake Ontario and a small road (chemin).

The 180 ft x 180 ft fort consisted of five buildings:

  • Smithy
  • Soldiers' Quarters
  • Senior Officers' Quarters
  • Magazine House
  • Kitchen
Fort Rouillé Monument

Today a large obelisk marks the spot where the original French-built Fort Rouillé was erected.

The grounds were excavated in 1979 and 1980 by the Toronto Historical Board, and again in 1982 by the Youth Committee of the Toronto Sesquicentennial Board. The outline of the original fort has been marked out in concrete around the obelisk. Two commemorative plaques – one in English, and one in French – are attached to the base of the obelisk, placed there by the Ontario Heritage Foundation. To the north a third plaque commemorates the excavation done on the site, and to the west a fourth plaque commemorates a visit to the site by Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris, on September 6, 2003.

A concrete outline of the original fort is marked on the ground and is clearly visible here Maps.

The obelisk is flanked by a cannon and a mortar, dating from the 1850s. Perhaps ironically, they are all British. A second cannon, present on the west side of the obelisk as recently as 2005, has since been removed.