Simcoe Day in Toronto is a perfect chance to step back in time, soak up some sun, and toast the first Lietenant Governor of Upper Canada with a beer named in his honour.

About 60 reenactors were dressed in full military uniforms, showing the crowd what it would have looked like when John Graves Simcoe visited Fort York was founded in August of 1793.

“This is where it all started,” said Kevin Hebib, who is the program development officer at the Fort York National Historic site. “You know, others places around the world you can’t show where the city started. I can. I can stand right here and walk with history.”

After the inspection, the actor portraying Graves delivered a speech punctuated by the line, “and in commemoration in the naming of this harbour by his English title, York! God save the king!”

That was followed by an artillery salute – where the soldiers fired their rifles one by one. White smoke filled the air and a canon was fired signaling the end of that part of the show.

Fort York

Fort York reenactors show the crowd what it would have looked like when John Graves Simcoe visited the military facility. (Ted Brooks/CTV News Toronto)

People taking advantage of the free tour had history on their minds. Brandon and Jenna Urisni brought their infant son Markus to the site. Despite living in downtown Toronto, they’d never visited before.

“It was really fun to actually come and see it. It was a really well done presentation,” said Jenna.

Her husband Brandon felt like he learned something too.

“It usually just means a long weekend. But it was a lot of fun coming out and seeing, I didn’t even know it was Simcoe Day right, so learning more about City of Toronto and what these guys did for us here was great!”

Abdelrahhman Elzibak and his wife Ohood came to Fort York as part of a visit from Hamilton. For Ohood, the event was a good refresher in Canadian history.

“My last exposure to Canadian history was probably Grade 10 civics class, and then there’s a bit of a gap. So it’s nice to see the live events like this, the re-enactments.”

At Great Lakes Brewery, there’s a nod to history and a tie in to Simcoe Day. The brewery re-released its Johnny Simcoe Pale Ale ahead of the long weekend. And at its Etobicoke store on Monday, cans of the limited edition brew were in high demand.

Chad Mason is the tap room leader at Great Lakes and describes the beer as, “very light, and crushable.”

“It has a nice hint of citrus, kind of on the pine. And because of the gluten reduced you don’t get that heavy bloatiness. That’s why it’s perfect for a long weekend.”

Great lakes Brewery

Great Lakes Brewery re-released its Johnny Simcoe Pale Ale ahead of the long weekend. (Nick Dixon/CTV News Toronto)

For many, it wouldn’t be a long weekend without a rack of ribs. At Thomson Memorial Park in Scarborough, the grounds were packed with families and foodies, checking out the latest trends in barbequed pork. Smoke and the smell of ribs filled the air.

The event also featured rides and music, and is a tradition for many of the families who go every year.