Dig uncovers more of Winnipeg's Upper Fort Garry

An archeological dig in Winnipeg has unearthed part of Upper Fort Garry, considered by some to be the birthplace of Winnipeg.

An archeological dig in Winnipeg has unearthed part of Upper Fort Garry, considered by some to be the birthplace of Winnipeg.

The footing of the fort's northwest bastion was uncovered Wednesday in the middle of the parking lot behind theGrain ExchangeCurling Club, near Fort Street and Assiniboine Avenue.

The city hired archeologists to search the area for the exact location of the bastion and the fort's west wall to ensure new developments in the area don't overlap it.

Sid Kroker, owner of Quaternary Consultants, said historians knew the approximate location of the bastion, although ithadnot been physically visible since the 19th century.

"There's a lot of documentation on activities within the fort. It's just we didn't have the physical manifestation of anything other than the north gate," he said.

"Archival data gave us plus or minus a metre, but for surveyors that's not adequate."

In May, the city approved Crystal Developers' proposal for a 15-storey residential building on a parking lot adjacent to the existing north gate, which would remain city property.

Some heritage buffs fought the proposal, saying the development would see the historic site hemmed in by another high-rise.

Jerry Gray, spokesman for Friends of the Upper Fort Garry, a heritage group that wanted to build an interpretive centre on the site, said Thursday that it is still working with the city on a compromise.

"Everybody's still looking, still under discussion, and we met with the city as recently as a week ago and are still trying to work out something," Gray said.

The archeological dig in the area is expected to continue until next week.

Gray expects the dig will uncover more evidence of the fort, such as other structures located outside the gates.

Upper Fort Garry, first established in 1822, served as the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company in Western Canada and the first seat of government for the District of Assiniboia and the Red River Settlement.

The fort was seized by Louis Riel during the Red River Rebellion in 1870, and most of it was demolished in the late 1800s.

The rebuilt rear entrance to the fort remains on a small block of land across from the Via Rail station on Broadway.


  • The archeological dig took place in the parking lot behind the Grain Exchange Curling Club, not the Fort Garry Curling Club as originally reported.
    Oct 12, 2007 11:00 AM CT