Playing with Fire: Children’s Toys at Fort York’s Ordinance and Supply Yard

Author(s): Anatolijs Venovcevs

Year: 2014


From 1868 to 1932, the Ordinance and Supply Yard located within the Fort York National Historic Site was part of a major munitions depot for the Canadian military that served the garrisons in southwestern Ontario. Accordingly, the 2010 and 2011 salvage excavation of a small section of this yard, conducted ahead of the construction for a proposed visitors’ centre, recovered a large amount of industrial debris associated with the maintenance and repair of turn-of-the-century military hardware. The project also revealed a large number of children-related artifacts deposited side by side with dangerous, and occasionally still live, munitions. These artifacts, along with historic photographs, remind us that children lived at the fort, where married soldiers and their families were quartered. They, or the children of civilian contractors employed by the military, regularly visited and played within the enclosed compound among the armaments stored for the Canadian military. Thus, the presence of small toys, marbles and dolls, challenges contemporary notions of childhood and helps to reconceptualise Fort York not only as a place of war but also as a place of play and everyday life.

Cite this Record

Playing with Fire: Children’s Toys at Fort York’s Ordinance and Supply Yard. Anatolijs Venovcevs. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436697)

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-13,09