Skip to main content

UPDATE: The Unveiling of Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park

Article by Laura McKay, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director. 
I know the blog post is early this week but I just couldn't wait to tell you:


 The Friends of Upper Fort Garry invite you and your guests to the unveiling of Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park and Recognition Wall.

Date: October 18, 2014

11:00am to 11:15am - Recognition Wall Unveiling

11:20am to 12:00pm (noon) - Park Ceremony

12:00pm to 3:00pm - Explore Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park: 
Learn about the site's history and what is yet to come! 

Enjoy the entertainment

Dress: Casual (flat shoes recommended)

We hope to see you there!  

Check out the mobile site at for a unique self-guided tour, usable on your laptop or smartphone!

Previous Article: Hudson's Bay Company Fort at 130 Main Street

Fort Garry viewed from the Assiniboine River, circa 1860.
Archives of Manitoba, Stoval Advocate, Image 22.

Every day this summer, on my way to and from work at Heritage Winnipeg, I passed by the gate at Upper Fort Garry and the park that is being built around it. At first I didn't even realize the two were related, but my ignorance has since been remedied. Here's a look at what I've learned about this fabulous heritage site - and it's grand opening this fall!

Upper Fort Garry Gate circa 1870.
Archives of Manitoba, Fort Garry Gate Collection, Image 2/N119.

"The Upper Fort Garry Heritage Park is an architectural and artistic interpretation of the events and significance of the Fort. The primary purpose is to provide educational and reflective opportunities for interpreting the significance of the Fort's history in the formation of the province of Manitoba and the building of Canada as a nation."
~ Source: Upper Fort Garry Heritage Provincial Park Business Plan ~


1821 - The rebuilt Fort Gibraltar is renamed Fort Garry after Deputy-Governor Nicholas Garry, who oversaw the amalgamation of the rival Hudson's Bay and North-West Companies.

Deputy-Governor Nicholas Garry, courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society website
Deputy-Governor Nicholas Garry, courtesy of the MHS website

1826 - A flood badly damages Fort Garry and by 1830, it is in very poor condition.

1831 - Governor George Simpson decides to rebuild the fort further downstream at its present location near Selkirk, Manitoba and this is the fort that would later come to be known Lower Fort Garry. The move was unpopular because it was a day-long journey from the "forks", where trade had already been established.

1835 - The Hudson's Bay Company decides to return to the Forks under the guidance of new Chief Factor Alexander Christie, and constructs Upper Fort Garry as a show of their dominance in the area. The new fort was formidable, with four large bastions and a 15-foot stone wall around it. Inside the fort were such buildings as the Chief Factors residence, officers' quarters, barracks, general store, fur store, Governor's residence, pemmican store, and a liquor store. 

Alexander Christie, courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society's website
Alexander Christie, courtesy of the MHS website.

1849 - The Sayer Trial takes place at Upper Fort Garry, breaking the Hudson Bay Company's trade monopoly.

1852-4 - Upper Fort Garry is extended to the north, with wooden walls taking the place of stone. The new walls were constructed using two rows of squared oak logs packed with earth. Construction was delayed by the great flood of 1852, hence the lengthy construction period. The old north walls were demolished and portions of the old stone can be found in the gate that remains, which was also built during the expansion. It was known as the "Governor's Gate" because of its proximity to the Governor's house.

1870 - Manitoba joined the Dominion of Canada and Rupert's Land is purchased from the Hudson's Bay Company, ending the company's monopoly in the area. Leading up to this, Upper Fort Garry was the home of Louis Riel's provisional government that was instrumental in the forming of Manitoba as a Canadian province. As well, during March of this year, Thomas Scott was executed by the Riel provisional government. After the creation of Manitoba later this year, Upper Fort Garry lost its importance to the Hudson's Bay Company as its focus shifted from the fur trade to the monetary value of its lands. 

Centre: Louis Riel
Photo Courtesy of the Friends of Upper Fort Garry website.
"My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back." 
~ Louis Riel, Métis oral history, circa 1885

1872 - The first Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, Adams Archibald, moves his headquarters to Upper Fort Garry, resulting in the north end of the fort being maintained, including the Governor's Gate.

September 1883 - The new Government House opens, causing the relocation of the Lieutenant-Governor's headquarters. Upper Fort Garry was abandoned and quickly fell into disrepair. The walls came down as Main Street was gradually straightened and much of the stone can now be found in the foundations of older buildings in the Exchange. All that is left of the original Fort is the Governor's Gate, which has been preserved on a small piece of heritage property known as Upper Fort Garry Gate Park. 

1888 - The last remaining structures from Upper Fort Garry are sold and dismantled, including Government House, which is sold as firewood. The Manitoba Historical Society persuades city council to look into acquiring the gate and a parcel of land surrounding it.

1897 - Winnipeg city council petitions the Hudson's Bay Company for a gift of the gateway lots and the request is granted two months later "as a public park forever". The efforts from 1888-1897 was Winnipeg's, and possibly Manitoba's, first heritage preservation campaign.

August 27, 1909 - A commemorative plaque is unveiled at the site, followed by a tablet on the gate in 1926.

1949 - The Gate falls into disrepair and it is noticed in 1949 that one of the outer and both inner gates had disappeared sometime in the 1930s. Renovations were done on the structure, including the rebuilding of the gates.

1962 -A proposal is made to add to the site of the park and make renovations to the area but nothing comes of it.

1980s - Parts of the wooden walls on either side of the Governor's Gate are restored.

July 15, 1991 - Upper Fort Garry Gate is designated as a historic site by the City of Winnipeg.

2004 - The City of Winnipeg declares the Upper Fort Garry site as surplus property.

2006 - The Friends of Upper Fort Garry was organized to preserve and develop the site of Upper Fort Garry.
A rendering of the vision for the park, courtesy of the FUFG website.

2008 - The Friends of Upper Fort Garry became a registered charity. $10.2 million was raised in 107 days to meet the requirements of the City of Winnipeg. Donors included foundations, corporations, the provincial and federal governments, and private citizens. A business plan was developed and the Grain Exchange Curling Club was purchased. 

2010 - The Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park Act was passed (proclaimed July 15, 2014).

Construction in progress!

2014 - The Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park Act was announced in a press release to Canadians on July 15, 2014 and the Park is scheduled for its grand opening this fall!

Upper Fort Garry Gate circa 1885.
Archives of Manitoba, Fort Garry Gate, Image 45/N12714.

"Upper Fort Garry is a key linchpin of Canadian history. A meeting place of First Nations, Francophone Métis, Anglophone Métis, French, Scottish, everyone. A place of trade, and of war. Perhaps above all, one of the birthplaces of modern Manitoba, with Riel's provisional government. A place both of hope and tragedy. The reality of Upper Fort Garry needs to be reaffirmed for Winnipeggers, Manitobans, and all Canadians."
~ John Ralston Saul, Author ~

The Vision  & Mission Statement

The vision of the Friends of Upper Fort Garry was to have:
  1. A heritage park and interpretive centre with a "wow factor" that is a major visitor/education destination;
  2. A continuing successful fundraising campaign that provides for future expansion and development;
  3. A heritage park and interpretive centre that is the premier historical destination in Winnipeg and an integral part of The Forks; and
  4. A heritage park and interpretive centre that is supported by a broad base of heritage groups and stakeholders representing the fabric of the city.
"The purpose of the Friends of Upper Fort Garry is to acquire and develop the heritage property at the Upper Fort Garry site and adjacent land int a premier heritage site for public education purposes. The Friends pursue the mission by building public awareness and support for the project, raising capital and operating funds for development of the site, and providing continuous leadership to achieve the vision." 
~ Source: The Upper Fort Garry Heritage Provincial Park Business Plan ~

The Grand Opening

The first phase of the Upper Fort Garry Heritage Park will open Fall 2014. 

More details coming soon! In the meantime, watch this video for a beautiful overview of the history and plans for the park!

Sources & Links 

City of Winnipeg Historical Reports (130 Main Street)
Friends of Upper Fort Garry Blog
Friends of Upper Fort Garry Website 
MHS - Upper Fort Garry article
Province of Manitoba News Release - Upper Fort Garry Heritage Park 
Tourism Winnipeg - Upper Fort Garry Gate
Virtual Heritage Winnipeg - Upper Fort Garry

Don't forget to spread the word!
Like and Share this article with the social media links below! 

To receive email updates from the blog,