Manitoba's newest provincial park, Upper Fort Garry, is now open to visitors in downtown Winnipeg.

The construction fences have come down around the site on Main Street near Broadway, which officially became Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park last year.

Ten years of negotiations, fundraising and construction have brought the park from idea to reality.

Jimm Simon of the Friends of Upper Fort Garry, the group behind the park, says Winnipeggers may remember that a gas station once occupied the site where the park is today.

Upper Fort Garry

Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park is now open to visitors, as the construction fences have come down around the downtown Winnipeg site this week. (Trevor Chilton/CBC)

"There was a Petro-Canada station there, and then there was going to be an apartment complex built on the site," he told CBC News on Thursday.

"The Friends of Upper Fort Garry really got together and thought this is too important a site to just be paved over and turned into an apartment complex."

Birthplace of Winnipeg

Known as the birthplace of Winnipeg, Upper Fort Garry was built between 1834 and 1837.

It was the administrative centre of Rupertsland, a massive mercantile empire that stretched from east of Hudson Bay to the Arctic Ocean to Alaska to the Pacific coast as far south as Oregon.

Upper Fort Garry

Friends of Upper Fort Garry, the group behind the park, says Winnipeggers may recall that a gas station once occupied the site where the park is today. (Trevor Chilton/CBC)

In 1869, Rupertsland was transferred to the Canadian government. It was inside the fort's walls where, during the winter of 1869-1870, a 25-year-old Louis Riel formed a provisional government and presented Canada with a bill of rights that became the Manitoba Act, 1870.

The fort was demolished in the 1880s. Since then, only the gate remained of the once imposing stone structure. The land around it has been used over the years as a bus depot, soccer field, and gas station.

Simon said visitors to the park can expect to see a steady stream of new features in the coming months.

"This is just the beginning. There's a huge interpretive installation going in this fall. that's going to be a big wall with multimedia expanse of lights and sound on there to entertain and inform people," he said.

The Friends of Upper Fort Garry will launch a mobile app on Aug. 14 that will enable visitors to learn more about the park in an interactive way.

As well, Simon said an interpretive centre and meeting area will eventually be built on the downtown site.