PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MAN. — Manitoba’s Fort la Reine Museum has started a campaign to repair the aging fort.
The museum dates back to 1967 and much of the structure is in need of repair and replacement. As well, conservation and maintenance is required for many of its heritage buildings.
According to the museum, the actual Fort la Reine is in dire condition, requiring extensive structural log replacement. Some of the damage is so extensive, officials have had to shut down access to the bastions and exhibit areas since 2011.
The Fort la Reine Museum is looking to raise $200,000 to support the Fort la Reine rebuilding and restoration project. The museum is also applying for government and foundation grants. Officials hope to have the project completed by 2020.
“In order for the museum to continue to be relevant, and provide a quality visitor experience telling the stories of the history of Portage, and its settlers, we must restore the Fort,” reads a press release from the museum.
The original Fort La Reine was built in 1738. It was one of the forts of the western expansion directed by Pierre Gaultier de Varennes et de La Vérendrye, a fur trader and farmer.
La Verendrye travelled farther west than any previous European explorer ever had, from Winnipeg, then southwest nearing the Missouri River.
He was searching to find the route from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. In 1738, he built Fort la Reine on the Assiniboine River where present day Portage la Prairie exists. It served as a fur trading post and was the primary base of operations for historic exploration north and west. From Fort la Reine, explorers made their way to Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipegosis, Lake Winnipeg and the Saskatchewan River.
Today the fort is a National Historic Site.