Toy Soldiers (Toronto, Ontario)

Toy Soldiers in Toronto
Photo by Jamie McCaffrey

The Monument to the War of 1812, or as it’s more commonly known, Toy Soldiers, is a large public sculpture in Toronto, Ontario. Situated in the CityPlace neighborhood adjacent to Fort York, Toy Soldiers was created by Canadian author and artist Douglas Coupland to commemorate the successful defeat of American forces invading Canada, then British North America.

Commissioned by Malibu Investments, the company that built the condo behind the monument and approved by the City of Toronto, Toy Soldiers was unveiled in November 2008 at the intersection of Bathurst Street and Lake Shore Boulevard in Toronto, Ontario. Toy Soldiers is a lot more than a couple of playful children’s toys built larger than life.

Despite the playful nature of the material, the Monument to the war of 1812 is actually a pretty serious piece of artwork by Coupland. Meant to be a scene from April 27, 1813, when U.S. troops overran Fort York, set it on fire and then promptly ran away. The standing gold solider is Canadian and the defeated silver soldier lying on the ground is American. These two soldiers represent British North America’s success over the invading forces of the U.S. during the War of 1812.

The location of the sculpture is no accident and Malibu Investments knew that they wanted something representing Canada’s fighting forces. Fort York National Historic Site, the largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings in Canada happens to be just a block north of the sculpture.

Heavy Industries, a Calgary based company known for making life-sized dinosaurs for theme parks, constructed the piece out of steel armature, plastic molding, and foam.

An article in Canada’s National Post noted that the audience laughed when the statue was unveiled but as an example of the most Canadian thing ever, the paper then apologized for any hurt feelings the statue may cause.

Toy Soldiers Facts

  • The sculpture is technically called the “Monument to the war of 1812”.
  • Toy Soldiers is located at 600 Fleet Street (Bathurst Street and Lake Shore Boulevard).
  • It is estimated that the monument cost $500,000 CAD.
  • The standing soldier depicts a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Fencible Infantry.
  • The fallen depicts an American soldier from the 16th U.S. Infantry Regiment.