New library exhibit examines Toronto’s Experience with the War of 1812-14

March 20, 2013 | Media Relations

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A unique exhibition of first-hand accounts from Library’s Special Collections

TORONTO (Wednesday, March 20, 2013) – Toronto Public Library is pleased to announce its fourth exhibition in the newly expanded TD Gallery, located on the main floor of the Toronto Reference Library. War Stories: Toronto and the War of 1812-14 opens on Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 9 a.m. and runs until June 22.   

Initially a sidebar to a larger conflict, the War of 1812 became very real for the people of Toronto (then called the Town of York) when the American forces occupied the town in April 1813. At the outbreak of the War, “Toronto” was in its infancy and a somewhat isolated community. It consisted of a market, a church, a tavern, shops, parliament buildings and over a hundred houses on a twenty block parcel of land, about to forever be altered by war.   

What:            War Stories: Toronto and the War of 1812-14 featuring a selection of letters, documents, maps, art and artifacts that tell a very personal, first-hand account of the war.

When:           March 30 - June 22, 2013

Where:          TD Gallery, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street – Main Level

Hours:           Monday to Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.,

Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sunday, 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Exhibit Highlights:

  • Letters written by local residents including the lawyer W.W. Baldwin, Mrs. Anne Powell, wife of Judge William Dummer Powell, and John Strachan describing the stress and fears of living in a time of war.
  • The original handwritten copy of the Terms of Capitulation signed by the Americans and the British, dated 1813.
  • The Treaty of Ghent, the first published edition of the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom.    
  • A painting showing a bird’s eye view of the invasion of York in 1813, by Owen Staples, ca. 1911.
  • A pen and ink sketch of Lundy’s Lane and District, drawn on site of the battle made famous by Laura Secord’s legendary walk past the American troops to warn the British.    
  • Musket balls, medallions and other artifacts on loan from the City of Toronto, Museum Services.

About the TD Gallery in the Toronto Reference Library:

The TD Gallery is the portal to discovering Toronto Public Library’s Special Collections that document the cultural history of our nation. These heritage collections include books, manuscripts, art and artifacts collected by the library since its inception in 1884, available to everyone for viewing, during regular library hours, or online 24/7.   

Media pre- opening tour:

Members of the media are invited for pre-opening tour and to meet the curator team between 10 and 12 noon on Thursday, March 28, 2012.  Please contact Edward Karek at 416-397-5925 or [email protected]  to reserve a spot. 

Related Programming:

Explosion 1812 (2012).  Produced by Yap Films in association with History/Shaw Media, this documentary film throws new light on the explosion of the ammunition magazine at the York Garrison on April 27, 1813. April 8, 2 pm. Toronto Reference Library, Beeton Auditorium

York during the War of 1812: A Re-examination. Historian Richard Gerrard, Fort York Historic Site, re-interprets the War of 1812 using newly discovered documentary and archaeological evidence. Guided gallery tour following the program. May 24, 2 pm. Toronto Reference Library, Beeton Auditorium

Exhibit Tours:  

Curator tours: 2 pm. on Fridays, April 26, May 10, June 7.

Toronto Public Library is the world's busiest urban public library systems. Every year, more than 19 million people visit our branches in neighbourhoods across the city and borrow over 33 million items. To learn more about Toronto Public Library, visit our website at or call Answerline at 416-393-7131. To get all the scoops about the library first-hand, follow us on Twitter @torontolibrary.



Media Contact:

Edward Karek, Communications Officer


[email protected]