Gibraltar Point Blockhouse

The Gibraltar Point Blockhouse was a blockhouse that was originally built in 1794 and was located on Gibraltar Point at the western end of the Toronto Islands. The first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, planned defences for the mouth of Toronto Harbour at Fort York, along with the Gibraltar Point Blockhouse that was situated south of the harbour's entrance.[1][2][3][4][5]

The Battle of York during the War of 1812, with the Gibraltar Point Blockhouse visible on the right
Gibraltar Point Blockhouse diagrams
Map of the harbour in 1816, with the Gibraltar Point Blockhouse shown on the lower right

In 1800, a storehouse and guardhouse were added, but the battery was destroyed in 1813 and rebuilt as a blockhouse in 1814.[6] The blockhouse was two storeys tall, with the upper platform having no roof and with its floor consumed with a traversing carriage for a single cannon.[1]

An oven permitted supplying the cannon with "hot shot"—cannonballs heated so they could start fires on the highly inflammable ships of the era. The lower floor could barrack thirty staff. The blockhouse's walls were formed from two parallel wooden walls, with the gap in between filled with tightly packed earth.

The blockhouse played no active part in the defence of York, when it was captured during the War of 1812.[7] Most of the buildings on the Toronto Islands were destroyed by American forces at that time, excluding the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.

During peacetime, the barracks at the Gibraltar Point Blockhouse were used to quarantine seriously ill individuals.[1] The blockhouse was in ruins by 1823 and removed by 1833.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Carl Benn (1993). "Historic Fort York, 1793-1993". Dundurn Press. pp. 22, 25, 28–29, 50, 68, 70, 72, 74, 93, 113, 170. ISBN 9781554881901. Retrieved 2013-03-19. Simcoe planned to build his main defences on the south side of the harbour entrance at Gibraltar Point (not far from today's Hanlan's Point on the Toronto Island) and a fort with stone barracks for 250 men where Fort York now stands.
  2. ^ Carl Benn (1995). "The Blockhouses of Toronto: A Material History Study". Material Culture Review. Archived from the original on 2013-03-23. Retrieved 2013-03-23. Regularly, blockhouses had at least an exterior stockade as additional protection and were situated to take advantage of the local geography. For example, the 1813-14 Gibraltar Point and Ravine blockhouses in Toronto were both surrounded with pickets. Furthermore, the blockhouse at Gibraltar Point sat at the end of a narrow spit, and the army exploited a deep valley to improve the defensibility of the Ravine Blockhouse.
  3. ^ Mike Filey (1998). Discover and Explore Toronto's Waterfront. Dundurn Press. p. 130. ISBN 9781550023046. Retrieved 2013-03-23. Soon after Simcoe had established his provisional capital at York in 1793, he instructed that this blockhouse, complete with cannons and storehouse, be erected on the peninsula at a place he called Gibraltar Point, so-named because Simcoe felt it could be "fortified so as to be impregnable." The gun at this blockhouse, in combination with those at the newly constructed Fort York across this way, would guard his town from any invaders, or so Simcoe believed. How wrong he was.
  4. ^ "Gibraltar Point Lighthouse - Toronto Island". Toronto Ghosts. Archived from the original on 2013-03-23. The island also contains some sites of historical significance, including a blockhouse that protected the harbour during the War of 1812 between the Americans and the British (Canadians), the ballpark where Babe Ruth smacked his first professional home run against the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team, and the infamous Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.
  5. ^ William James (1818). "A full and correct account of the military occurrences of the late war between Great Britain and the United States of America: with an appendix, and plates, Volume 1". pp. 53–54, 444. Retrieved 2013-03-23. York harbor lies on the north-side of Lake Ontario; is nearly circular, of about a mile and a half in diameter, and formed by a narrow peninsula extending to Gibraltar-point, upon which a block-house has been erected.
  6. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-07-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Robert MacIntosh (2006). "Earliest Toronto". General Store Publishing House. p. 72. ISBN 9781897113417. Retrieved 2013-03-24.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 43°37′40″N 79°23′22″W / 43.627774°N 79.389535°W / 43.627774; -79.389535[1]

  1. ^ Coordinates of Ontario Historic Plaque.