• Gate and Wooden Wall
By the 1850s, Upper Fort Garry had become the economic and social centre of the Red River. This unexpected growth in importance led to the construction of additional structures that filled out every corner of the fort. Eventually, buildings like a storehouse and a magazine (for weapons and gunpowder) – began to spill over the original stone walls. An expansion was badly needed and in 1852 walls made of oaken timbers, a sturdy and resilient material, were used to extend the fort beyond the northern wall. The walls were erected on a stone foundation, braced inside with oaken planks running horizontally and a “rammed-earth core.” In other words, a mix of earth, gravel, clay, or sand – a useful stabilizer against changing temperatures in the Red River – was used to support the beams of wood holding up the walls.

Construction, however, was slow. All of the convenient sources of timber had been used up in previous projects in the region. Additionally – as Winnipegers today know– weather in the Red River can make outdoor projects difficult. The frost lasted till April and returned in November, allowing for a very short working season. Furthermore, there was a limited number of workers for hire at any one time. Labourers were busy working at York factory, running brigades, and repairing the damages caused by the flood in 1852. Thankfully, the Chelsea pensioners, soldiers stationed at the fort in order to protect it from potential threats, were able to help with some construction.

Guinn, Rodger. The Red-Assiniboine Junction: A Land Use and Structural History, 1770-1980. Ottawa: Parks Canada, 1980.

Loewen, Brad and Greg Monks, A History of the Structures of Upper Fort Garry. Ottawa: Parks Canada, Microfiche Report no. 330, 1986.

Rostecki, Randy. “Upper Fort Garry Gate: 130 Main Street,” City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee, 1991.

Location in the Park