Upper Fort Garry
Upper Fort Garry (1835-1882) - A Hudson's Bay Company fort established in 1835 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. One of three forts in the area named after Nicholas Garry, who was deputy governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. British troops were garrisoned at the fort 1846-1848. Louis Riel captured the fort during the 1870 Red River Rebellion. Abandoned and dismantled in 1882.
History of Upper Fort Garry
Construction on Upper Fort Garry began in 1834. The new fort was situated at the Forks in present day Winnipeg close to the sites of previous fortifications at the junction of the Assiniboine and the Red Rivers. Unlike previous forts built at the forks, the new fort was built with stone walls and further back from the river banks to avoid damaging floods.
Upper Fort Garry replaced an earlier Fort Garry that had originally been named Fort Gibraltar after that fort had been severely damaged by a flood in 1826. Lower Fort Garry was also an HBC stone fort built further north along the red river. The upper and lower distinctions were established to prevent confusion between the two.
The fort walls were originally built of stone and measured 280' (east to west) and 240' (north to south). In the 1850's the walls were extended northward and a large stone entrance gate was built on the north side. Unlike the earlier construction, the extension walls were built with wood.
Upper Fort Garry played an important role in the history of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba. The fort served as the area headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company. British troops were garrisoned at the fort between 1846 and 1848 during the "Oregon Crisis" when it was thought that the Americans might invade the territory.
In November 1869 the fort was seized by Métis people led by Louis Riel and John Bruce without a shot being fired. Riel established a provisional government at the fort and tried to negotiate with the Canadian government over admission into the Canadian Confederation. He was forced to abandon the fort in 1870 with the arrival of the Wolseley military expedition. Riel was later tried and hanged in 1885 for treason over a similar uprising in Saskatchewan.
The City of Winnipeg grew up around the fort and because the city street system was not aligned with the fort walls, the walls were eventually demolished to straighten Main Street in 1882. Only the stone fort entrance gate, built in the 1850s, was saved.
Now a part of the Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park and the Forts Rouge, Garry, and Gibraltar National Historic Site in downtown Winnipeg. The north stone gate and wood walls have been restored/recreated. The remaining trace of Upper Fort Gary forms a park except for the area that juts into Main Street.
The other forts included in the designation have no visible remains but are identified and talked about in the Upper Fort Garry descriptive panels. This is the best place to begin any examination of the old forts of Winnipeg.
Visited: 25,29 Jul 2016