The historic site of Winnipeg's Upper Fort Garry, known as the birthplace of Winnipeg, is now officially designated as a provincial park.

Site footprint

An artist's rendering of the park site. (upperfortgarry.com)

The proclamation for the Upper Fort Garry Heritage Provincial Park Act, comes on the anniversary of Manitoba's entrance into Confederation on July 15, 1870.

"This is an historic day as the proclamation ensures this heritage site will be owned by the people of Manitoba and will be a public park forever," said Jerry Gray, chair of Friends of Upper Fort Garry.

"We are grateful for the support of the Manitoba government in making this park possible. Construction is well underway and we invite everyone to attend the opening of Upper Fort Garry Heritage Provincial Park on September 27."

The province has provided more than $4 million to the $9-million development of the park, located downtown on Main Street between Broadway and Assiniboine Avenue.

Plans for the park include:

  • A symbolic representation of the fort and the buildings once enclosed within its walls.
  • Installations of art and other creative works within the park to illustrate 19th century life at Upper Fort Garry.
  • Outdoor gathering spaces for historical events and programs.
  • An interpretive centre with space to host meetings and exhibitions.

Louis Riel part of fort's famous past

Erected in 1835 under orders from George Simpson, then-governor of the Hudson Bay Company, Upper Fort Garry served as the centre for trade in the west and was the site of significant historic events.

fortgarry2

Upper Fort Garry, circa 1840 (Friends of Upper Fort Garry)

Upper Fort Garry 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.

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.

In 1883, the east wall of the fort was demolished to straighten Main Street. Shortly after, the remaining buildings and walls were dismantled.

Today, only the gate remains 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.