Explore the Legacy of Upper Fort Garry

Time Travel in Downtown Winnipeg: Explore the Legacy of Upper Fort Garry

As a proud resident of Winnipeg, I have often found solace in the shadows of Upper Fort Garry’s sturdy stone walls, its timeless architecture echoing the voices of the past. 

This iconic site, dating back to the mid-19th century, carries the weight of our collective history, from fur trade days to the turbulent times of the Red River Resistance.

Join me on a virtual expedition where we will unravel the layers of Upper Fort Garry, peeling back the pages of history to discover the pivotal role it played in shaping our community. 

About Upper Fort Garry in Winnipeg

About Upper Fort Garry in Winnipeg
Address  130 Main St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1A4, Canada
Contact number 204 947 9344 
Operating hours Open 24 hours 

Upper Fort Garry, also known simply as Fort Garry, stands as a historic landmark nestled in downtown Winnipeg, where the Red and Assiniboine rivers converge. 

Established in 1822 as a trading post by the Hudson’s Bay Company, the fort played a pivotal role in the fur trade within the Red River Colony.

After a significant setback in 1826 when a severe flood swept through the area, Upper Fort Garry was rebuilt in 1836. 

While its primary function was administrative, overseeing the affairs of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the surrounding settlement, the fort also housed the Council of Assiniboia, the governing body of the Red River Colony.

A critical chapter in the fort’s history unfolded during the late 1860s and early 1870s, marked by the Red River Rebellion led by Louis Riel and his Métis followers. During this tumultuous period, the fort was seized, leaving a lasting impact on its legacy.

In the 1880s, the physical remnants of Upper Fort Garry were dismantled to make way for Winnipeg’s Main Street, although the fort’s gate endured. Recognizing its historical significance, the site was designated as part of a larger National Historic Site in 1924.

Today, Upper Fort Garry has transformed into a provincial park, offering a captivating audio-visual interpretation of the buffalo hunt along the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Heritage Wall. 

Beyond its historical significance, the park serves as a versatile venue, open for booking small shows, public events, weddings, and even as a backdrop for engagement photos.

Things to Do at Upper Fort Garry in Winnipeg

Upper Fort Garry presents a variety of engaging activities that promise to enrich your understanding of the region’s past. If you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for a unique experience, here are some compelling things to do at this historical place.

1. Explore the park and learn about its history. 

Explore the park and learn about its history

Upper Fort Garry is the birthplace of Manitoba, echoing tales of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s establishment of a trading post in 1822. 

As you wander through the park, you can indulge yourself in the history and culture of the region, brought to life by the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Heritage Wall. 

This unique feature presents an audio-visual tapestry, weaving together the intricate stories that have shaped the development of Manitoba.

To enhance your exploration, a free interactive app awaits, beckoning you to delve deeper into the park and fort. 

Compatible with both Android and iOS devices, this app opens a portal to a world of 3D models, allowing you to virtually traverse the fort and its surroundings. 

You can listen to narrated stories that unveil pivotal events and remarkable individuals who have left an indelible mark on the landscape.

As you meander through the park, the app serves as your digital guide, providing a seamless experience enriched with historical insights. 

Language barriers dissolve thanks to translations offered in several languages, ensuring that the heritage of Upper Fort Garry transcends boundaries.

2. Check out the Manitoba Legislative Grounds. 

Manitoba Legislative Grounds envelop the Manitoba Legislative Building, the pivotal meeting place of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba in central Winnipeg. Steeped in historical and cultural significance, the area features several notable landmarks.

As you enter, the Governor’s Gate welcomes you, setting the tone for the rich history that unfolds. A stroll through the grounds introduces you to the majestic Queen Victoria statue, a symbol of enduring heritage. 

You can immerse yourself in the past as you encounter the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Heritage Wall, a visual testament to the province’s vibrant history.

A highlight of the Manitoba Legislative Grounds is the iconic Golden Boy statue, standing tall atop the dome of the Legislative Building. This striking figure serves as a beacon, representing the resilience and progress of Manitoba. 

The grounds, open to the public, invite exploration, offering various ways to engage with the history that surrounds you.

For a more alluring experience, consider joining a guided tour or exploring at your own pace with an audio tour. You can enhance your visit further by utilizing a free app that provides interactive features, bringing the stories embedded in these grounds to life.

3. Visit the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Heritage Wall. 

This extraordinary attraction, the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Heritage Wall, is a testament to the region’s heritage, crafted from corten steel, a material that gracefully ages into a rust-like appearance. 

Spanning an impressive 440 feet in length and standing at 13 feet tall, the wall faithfully marks the original west fort wall, which saw its demolition in the 1880s.

You can go on a journey as the three layers of the Heritage Wall unfold the story of this land. From the early Indigenous communities and the bustling fur trade to the arrival of European settlers, it encapsulates pivotal moments in Manitoba’s history. 

The narrative seamlessly weaves through significant events, such as Manitoba’s entry into the Canadian Confederation and the subsequent development of Winnipeg and northern Manitoba.

As the sun sets, the Heritage Wall transforms into a mesmerizing spectacle. Illuminated by over 7,000 LED lights, it hosts a captivating sound and light show. 

The artistic portrayal of the Métis buffalo hunt comes to life, offering a unique and mesmerizing experience. 

The Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Heritage Wall stands proudly as Canada’s largest free-standing public art installation. 

Beyond its visual appeal, it serves as a dynamic and engaging way to delve into the intricate tapestry of Upper Fort Garry’s history and the broader heritage of Manitoba.

4. See the Governor’s Gate. 

See the Governor’s Gate

Erected in 1853 as an integral part of the fort’s timber walls, the iconic Governor’s Gate stands as a testament to the fort’s grandeur and authority. 

Architecturally captivating, it showcases a blend of styles that mirrors the dignity and power associated with Upper Fort Garry.

The gate boasts a second story featuring strategically placed loopholes, designed to allow guards to defend against potential threats. 

Interestingly, this structure also served as a discreet entrance to the residential compound, underscoring its multifaceted role within the fort’s operations.

The Governor’s Gate is the lone survivor of Upper Fort Garry, as the rest of the fort succumbed to demolition in the 1880s. Its preservation is owed to a successful public campaign, resulting in its donation to the city as a public park. 

Where to Eat Near Upper Fort Garry in Winnipeg

As you explore this iconic landmark, you’re sure to work up an appetite. Fortunately, the area around Upper Fort Garry offers a diverse range of dining options, catering to various tastes and preferences. 

1. The Keg Steakhouse + Bar – Garry Street 

Address  115 Garry St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1G5, Canada
Contact number204 942 7619
Operating hours
  • SUNDAY: 4 PM - 10 PM
  • Must-order items
  • Price range$$ - average

    The Keg Steakhouse + Bar on Garry Street is a restaurant renowned for its delectable offerings of steak, seafood, and prime rib. 

    The ambiance seamlessly combines casual elegance with a welcoming atmosphere, featuring a full bar, a charming patio, and an exclusive private dining area accommodating groups of 6 to 50.

    At The Keg, you’re treated to an exceptional dining experience that extends beyond the ordinary. 

    Among the culinary delights that have earned The Keg its stellar reputation, you’ll find succulent options such as the mouthwatering Rib Steak, the tantalizing Steak and Shrimp combination, and the classic Prime Rib. 

    Each dish is crafted with precision, ensuring a symphony of flavors that will leave your taste buds delighted.

    2. Oval Room Brasserie – Fort Garry Hotel 

    Address  222 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0R3, Canada
    Contact number204 946 6514
    Operating hours
  • MONDAY TO FRIDAY: 6:30 AM - 11 PM
  • SATURDAY: 7:30 AM - 11 PM
  • SUNDAY: 7:30 AM - 10 PM
  • Must-order items
  • Price range$$ - average

    The Oval Room Brasserie at the Fort Garry Hotel beckons with its enticing array of Canadian brasserie and bistro delights, served throughout the day. 

    This restaurant, with its casual yet elegant dining ambiance, boasts a full bar, a charming patio, and even a private dining area for those seeking a more intimate experience.

    If you’re dropping by for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the Oval Room Brasserie crafts a culinary journey that spans a spectrum of flavors. 

    From the crispy and delectable Calamari Ring Frites to the hearty and satisfying Steak Frites, the menu promises a diverse selection to suit various palates. Notably, the Vegan Steak stands out as a delightful option for those embracing plant-based choices.

    3. Vida Cucina Italia at The Fort Garry Hotel

    Address  222 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0R3, Canada
    Contact number204 899 5721
    Operating hoursTUESDAY TO SATURDAY: 5 PM - 10 PM
    Must-order items
  • Price range$$ - average

    Located within the historic Fort Garry Hotel, Vida Cucina Italia is a recent addition to Winnipeg’s culinary scene, offering a delectable journey into Italian cuisine curated by Michelin-starred chef Rosanna Marziale. 

    This fine dining establishment prides itself on using the finest ingredients imported from Italy, ensuring an authentic and elevated dining experience.

    Stepping into Vida Cucina Italia, guests are treated to a gastronomic adventure with a menu boasting exquisite dishes. 

    You can indulge in the creamy Pasta adorned with Buffalo Mozzarella, savor the richness of the Risotto infused with Black Truffle, and conclude your meal on a sweet note with the heavenly Tiramisu. 

    Each dish is proof of Chef Rosanna Marziale’s expertise and commitment to delivering an unparalleled dining experience.

    Beyond the tantalizing menu, Vida Cucina Italia presents an extensive wine list that showcases a carefully curated selection of Italian and Canadian wines. 

    The combination of exceptional cuisine and a well-curated wine list ensures a harmonious pairing to elevate your dining experience.

    For those planning a visit, the option to make reservations or explore the menu is conveniently available on their website.

    4. La Roca 

    Address  155 Smith St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1J7, Canada
    Contact number204 615 9605
    Operating hours
  • THURSDAY: 4 PM - 11 PM
  • Must-order items
  • Price range$ - $$ cheap - average

    La Roca is a Mexican restaurant that promises a satisfying dining experience. With its charming two-level patio, this establishment sets the stage for a relaxed and enjoyable meal. 

    In addition to offering a tempting array of Mexican cuisine, La Roca also boasts live music and DJ performances on select nights, adding a lively ambiance to your visit.

    La Roca’s menu features a variety of crowd-pleasers, with standout dishes such as flavorful Tacos, indulgent Queso Dip, and the mouthwatering Baked Burrito.

    5. SMITH 

    Address  75 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0A2, Canada
    Contact number204 944 2445
    Operating hours
  • MONDAY: 6:30 AM - 10 PM
  • TUESDAY TO THURSDAY: 6:30 AM - 10:30 PM
  • FRIDAY: 6:30 AM - 12:30 AM
  • SATURDAY: 8 AM - 12:30 AM
  • SUNDAY: 8 AM - 9 PM
  • Must-order items
  • Price range$ - $$ cheap - average

    SMITH Restaurant is an upscale casual restaurant located at the Forks, one of Canada’s top tourist destinations. 

    This dining establishment exudes an air of casual sophistication, offering a delectable array of Canadian brasserie and bistro dishes throughout the day, embracing the finest locally sourced ingredients.

    For those going on a delectable breakfast, lunch, or dinner experience, SMITH Restaurant boasts a menu that harmoniously celebrates the bounty of local lands and waters. 

    Among the standout dishes are the classic and mouthwatering Steak Frites, the indulgent Smoked Salmon Benedict, and the ever-popular SMITH Burger.

    6. Ramen Takeuma 

    Address  Within the Honupoke restaurant, 190 Smith St Unit 1, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1J8, Canada
    Operating hoursBY RESERVATION ONLY
    Must-order items
  • Price range$$ - average

    Ramen Takeuma is a cozy pop-up restaurant boasting authentic Japanese ramen. At the helm is Atsushi Kawazu, a skilled chef hailing from Kyoto, Japan, who brings his expertly honed ramen-making techniques to the heart of Winnipeg.

    Diners at Ramen Takeuma can savor a diverse range of flavors, with highlights such as the rich and savory Shoyu Ramen, the comforting depth of Miso Ramen, and the bold kick of Spicy Ramen. 

    Each dish is a testament to Atsushi Kawazu’s training in Japan, showcasing a commitment to authenticity and a genuine passion for the art of ramen crafting.

    7. Hy’s Steakhouse – Winnipeg

    Address  Richardson Building, 1 Lombard Ave Main Floor, Winnipeg, MB R3B 0X3, Canada
    Contact number204 942 1000
    Operating hours
  • MONDAY TO THURSDAY: 11:30 AM - 10 PM
  • FRIDAY: 11:30 AM - 11 PM
  • SATURDAY: 3 PM - 11 PM
  • SUNDAY: 3 PM - 9 PM
  • Must-order items
  • Price range$$ - average

    Hy’s Steakhouse is a dining haven known for its expertise in steak, seafood, and cocktails. 

    With a blend of casual elegance, the restaurant boasts a full bar, a welcoming patio, and a private dining area. If you’re looking for a lunchtime treat or a satisfying dinner, Hy’s Steakhouse has you covered.

    Their menu showcases a delectable array of dishes, with highlights such as the mouthwatering Steak Neptune, the classic Steak and Lobster combo, and the refreshing Caesar Salad. 

    To ensure a seamless dining experience, reservations can be made through their website, where you can also peruse the menu and even place orders online.

    8. Cibo Waterfront Cafe

    Address  339 Waterfront Dr, Winnipeg, MB R3B 0G8, Canada
    Contact number204 594 0339
    Operating hours
  • SUNDAY TO THURSDAY: 11:30 AM - 11 PM
  • Must-order items
  • Price range$$ - average

    Cibo Waterfront Cafe offers an enchanting Mediterranean-inspired dining experience. With a focus on fresh and flavorful cuisine, this charming cafe caters to both lunch and dinner crowds. 

    The establishment boasts a two-level patio, providing customers with a homelike space to savor their meals while enjoying scenic views.

    Among the culinary highlights are the delectable Bruschettas, offering a burst of flavors. The menu also features an array of expertly crafted pizzas and pasta, showcasing the rich diversity of Mediterranean cuisine. 

    If you’re seeking a leisurely lunch or a satisfying dinner, Cibo Waterfront Cafe provides a relaxed ambiance to indulge in these delicious offerings.

    9. The Merchant Kitchen 

    Address  314 Donald St, Winnipeg, MB R3B 2H3, Canada
    Contact number204 615 2278
    Operating hours
  • SATURDAY: 4 PM - 11 PM
  • Must-order items
  • Price range$ - $$ cheap - average

    The Merchant Kitchen restaurant specializes in serving a fusion of Latin and Asian-inspired street food, complemented by a selection of globally influenced cocktails.

    Here, you’ll encounter a journey where flavors from different corners of the world come together seamlessly. 

    The menu boasts a variety of enticing dishes, with some standout options being the flavorful Korean Fried Chicken, mouthwatering Tacos, and comforting Ramen.

    Whether you’re a fan of spicy, savory, or sweet, The Merchant Kitchen has something to satisfy every palate. The diverse range of dishes reflects the dynamic nature of the Latin and Asian culinary influences that inspire the menu.

    As you savor your meal, don’t forget to explore the carefully crafted cocktail menu. The globally influenced cocktails add an extra layer of sophistication to your dining experience, making it the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a memorable evening.

    Where to Stay Near Upper Fort Garry in Winnipeg

    When planning a visit to Winnipeg and exploring the historic charm of Upper Fort Garry, choosing the right accommodation can significantly enhance your experience. 

    Whether you prefer luxury hotels, boutique inns, or budget-friendly options, Winnipeg offers a range of accommodations that cater to different tastes and preferences. 

    1. Fort Garry Hotel 

    Address  222 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0R3, Canada
    Contact number888 855 4599
    Operating hours
  • The Fort Garry Hotel is proof of Canada’s rich railway history, earning its status as a National Historic Site in 1981. 

    Since its grand opening on December 11, 1913, the hotel has retained its early 20th-century charm, originally constructed by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.

    Boasting a unique blend of contemporary style and Old World elegance, the Fort Garry Hotel is a destination that provides a range of services and amenities. 

    Guests can savor fresh Canadian brasserie cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant, creating a delightful culinary experience. 

    Additionally, the penthouse hosts a spa, offering a serene escape for those seeking relaxation amid the bustling city.

    Beyond its exquisite accommodations, the Fort Garry Hotel serves as an ideal venue for special occasions. With versatile event spaces, the hotel caters to weddings and conferences, ensuring a memorable backdrop for these significant gatherings.

    2. Fairmont Winnipeg

    Address  2 Lombard Place, Winnipeg, MB R3B 0Y3, Canada
    Contact number204 957 1350
    Operating hours
  • The Fairmont Winnipeg offers a truly indulgent experience for its guests. With 340 well-appointed accommodations, each room is designed for comfort and style. 

    The homey atmosphere is enhanced by features such as minibars and a safe, while the plush pillow-top beds adorned with Egyptian cotton sheets, down comforters, and premium bedding ensure a restful night’s sleep.

    Entertainment is at your fingertips with 42-inch flat-screen televisions offering premium cable channels and pay-per-view films. 

    The bathrooms are a sanctuary of luxury, equipped with baths or showers featuring a rainfall shower head, along with bathrobes, designer toiletries, and hairdryers for added convenience.

    As a guest at the Fairmont Winnipeg, you are invited to take advantage of the various amenities offered on-site. A rejuvenating dip in the indoor saltwater pool awaits those seeking relaxation, and a delicious breakfast is conveniently located within the hotel. 

    For those arriving by car, parking facilities are available.

    Exploring the surrounding area is made easy, with popular attractions within walking distance. 

    The Forks National Historic Site, Manitoba Museum, and Shaw Park are just a few notable places that can be easily reached, adding to the overall appeal of your stay at the Fairmont Winnipeg.

    3. Alt Hotel Winnipeg 

    Address  310 Donald St, Winnipeg, MB R3B 2H3, Canada
    Contact number431 800 4279
    Operating hours
  • The Alt Hotel offers a distinctive accommodation experience near Upper Fort Garry. This unique hotel provides not only a central location but also a range of amenities to enhance your stay.

    Guests are welcomed by the modern ambiance of the hotel. Each thoughtfully designed guest room is equipped with a flat-screen cable TV and an entertainment center featuring multimedia adapters. 

    The room further boasts a comfortable work desk, a relaxing seating area, and a convenient coffee maker. The private bathroom is stocked with complimentary toiletries, ensuring a pleasant and convenient stay.

    For those seeking a connection to the city, guests can relish the captivating view of Winnipeg from their rooms. Whether it’s the city lights or the picturesque surroundings, the Alt Hotel provides a unique perspective.

    To cater to guests’ needs beyond their rooms, the hotel offers a range of facilities. A fitness center is available for those looking to maintain their workout routine, followed by a visit to the on-site restaurant. 

    If you’re in the mood for a quick bite or a refreshing drink, the snack bar awaits. The 24-hour front desk ensures assistance is available at any time, offering services such as luggage storage.

    Tips When You Visit Upper Fort Garry in Winnipeg

    As you indulge yourself in this well-preserved heritage site, consider these tips to enhance your experience and make the most of your visit. 

    1. Plan your visit. 

    The park is open year-round, 24 hours a day, but some of the buildings and exhibits have limited hours. You can check the website or call ahead to confirm the hours of operation before you go. 

    You can also download a free app for iOS or Android that will provide you with a guided tour of the park.

    2. Wear comfortable shoes. 

    There is a lot of walking to do on the grounds of the fort, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

    3. Bring sunscreen and a hat. 

    If you’re visiting in the summer, be sure to bring sunscreen and a hat, as there is not a lot of shade on the grounds of the fort.

    4. Take a guided tour. 

    If you want to learn more about the history of the fort, take a guided tour. Tours are offered in English and French and last about an hour.