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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Upper Fort Garry (130 Main Street, Winnipeg)

Link to:
Photos & Coordinates | Sources

Upper Fort Garry is a municipally-designated historic site and a Provincial Park. All that remains of the former fur trade post is its stone front gate. A plaque mounted on the gate in 1909 by the Canadian Club of Winnipeg provides a synopsis of its history.

Year

Event

1806

The first fort, named Gibraltar, is built by the North West Company

1816

Fort Gibraltar is destroyed

1822

The second Fort Gibraltar is renamed Fort Garry after the amalgamation of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company

1835

Fort Garry is rebuilt with stone walls running 280 feet east and west, and 240 feet north and south

1850

Fort walls are extended northward and this gateway is erected

1882

The fort is sold and its walls, except for this gateway, is demolished

1897

The gateway and adjoining park is presented by the Hudson’s Bay Company to the City of Winnipeg

Near the gate is a plaque, placed by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, commemorating the Fort Garry - Fort Edmonton Trail. This road was formerly part of a cart trail, also known as the Carlton, Saskatchewan, or Fort Ellice Trail, which extended 1,400 kilometers between Fort Garry and Fort Edmonton (now Edmonton, Alberta). It was the principal overland trail route in the North West for much of the 19th century. By mid-century it was used extensively by Métis freighters driving Red River carts; it also served early explorers and surveyors. One troop of the North West Mounted Police followed it in 1874. By 1890 the trail was largely superseded by railways.

The Friends of Upper Fort Garry have developed the site as a modern urban green space historic park. Beneath the surface of the gardens and pathways is the design of Upper Fort Garry, based on the buildings, walls and walkways of the original fort. Over the past few years archaeologists have identified former building locations and the west wall and bastion, including the site of the well that served the fort. Made up of more than 400 feet of steel and light, the Heritage Wall marks the height, depth and location of the fort’s west wall, which was demolished in the 1880s. Its layers scribe three continuous lines tracing the history of western Canada and Upper Fort Garry: First Nations, Métis and the fur trade; European settlers and the events surrounding Red River’s entry into Canada; and the remaking of the prairies, the building of Winnipeg, and development of northern Manitoba.

Also at the site is a plaque erected by the Manitoba Heritage Council that commemorates Ambroise-Didyme Lépine.

Photos & Coordinates

Colorized photo of Upper Fort Garry seen from across the Red River in St. Boniface

Colorized photo of Upper Fort Garry seen from across the Red River in St. Boniface (no date) by James Penrose
Source: MB2020, Carey Collection, 2016-0103.

Drawing of aerial view of Upper Fort Garry

Drawing of aerial view of Upper Fort Garry (no date)
Source: MB2020, Carey Collection, 2016-0106.

Entrance to Upper Fort Garry from the south with a bridge over the Assiniboine River in the foreground

Entrance to Upper Fort Garry from the south with a bridge over the Assiniboine River in the foreground (c1880) by Charles Ellis
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Bruce Decker Fonds

View inside Upper Fort Garry looking southward

View inside Upper Fort Garry looking southward (c1880) by Charles Ellis
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Bruce Decker Fonds

Unidentified men posing around cannons inside Upper Fort Garry

Unidentified men posing around cannons inside Upper Fort Garry (c1880) by Charles Ellis
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Bruce Decker Fonds

Postcard view of Buffalo Bill at Upper Fort Garry Gate

Postcard view of Buffalo Bill at Upper Fort Garry Gate (c1910)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough, 2006-0163

Postcard view of Upper Fort Garry Gate and the Manitoba Club

Postcard view of Upper Fort Garry Gate and the Manitoba Club (circa 1910)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough, 2006-0162

Upper Fort Garry Gate

Upper Fort Garry Gate (June 2017)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Upper Fort Garry historic park

Upper Fort Garry historic park (September 2019)
Source: Rose Kuzina

Heritage Wall depicting the Metis and fur trade period

Heritage Wall depicting the Metis and fur trade period (September 2019)
Source: Rose Kuzina

Fort Garry - Fort Edmonton Trail commemorative plaque

Fort Garry - Fort Edmonton Trail commemorative plaque (2010)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.88797, W97.13541
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Ambroise-Didyme Lépine Plaques (Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Pembina Trail Monument (973 Red River Drive, RM of Ritchot)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Fort Ellice Trail Crossing (RM of Wallace)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Lower Fort Garry (RM of St. Andrews)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Club (194 Broadway, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Plaques for Persons, Events and Sites of National Historic Significance

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Municipally Designated Historic Sites

Sources:

Upper Fort Garry Gate, 130 Main Street, Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee, June 1991.

We thank Scott Stephen and Rose Kuzina for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 18 November 2020

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