Historic Sites of Manitoba: Archway Warehouse, Jail and Powder Magazine Remains (Norway House, Northern Manitoba)
Norway House was the crossroads of the northern transport network of the Hudson’s Bay Company during most of the 19th century. The Archway Warehouse, built in 1840-1841, is the oldest surviving Red River frame warehouse in western Canada and also Manitoba’s oldest log edifice on its original site. The Jail, erected in 1855-1856, is the oldest extant lockup in the province. Earlier wooden structures at Upper Fort Garry and York Factory have been demolished. The Powder Magazine, erected in 1837-1838, was the first structure built of stone in Manitoba. Though now in ruins, its stones were quarried near Lower Fort Garry. In 1984, the area became a provincially-designated historic site.
In 1931, a plaque was installed at Norway House by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to commemorate the role that the community played in the development of northern Canada. The first Norway House was built in 1814 at Mossy Point on Lake Winnipeg by Norwegian axemen hired by the Hudson’s Bay Company to cut a winter road from the lake to York Factory. After 1821 the post became the HBC’s principal depot for the Athabasca brigade. Having been destroyed by fire it was rebuilt here in 1826 near the site of the earlier Jack River House. Its location made it for many years a convenient meeting place for the Council of the Northern Department, and even after the general decline in the fur trade at mid-century Norway House remained an important trading post.
The bell on the Archway Warehouse is the oldest object in Norway House. It comes from the Hudson Bay Company ship Sea Horse III that operated between 1782 and 1792, between London and Hudson Bay. The Jack Fish weather-vane was placed there by Chief Factor Horace Belanger.
Norway House is historically significant for two additional reasons: 1) it was the place where Treaty No. 5 was made between the the Saulteaux (Ojibwa) and Swampy Cree First Nations people and the Crown in 1875, and 2) it was the place where the Reverend James Evans invented the Cree Syllabic System.
Photos & Coordinates
Archway Warehouse, Jail and Powder Magazine Remains, Norway House, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch.
This page was prepared by George Penner and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 5 October 2021