Lower Fort Garry

Lower Fort Garry


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Lower Fort Garry is a well preserved 19th century fur trading post and the site of the signing of Treaty Number 1 between the First Nation people and the Crown.

Built by the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1830s, Lower Fort Garry was intended as a fur trading post to replace the company’s previous headquarters in Winnipeg. It served in this capacity for a short time before undertaking a series of other roles including as a garrisoned British fort at the time of the Oregon Question, also known as the boundary dispute.

On 3 August 1871, Lower Fort Garry took on another important role as the signing place of Treat No. 1, an agreement between the Crown and the Ojibway and Swampy Cree people relating to the area now known as Manitoba.

Today, Lower Fort Garry remains beautifully intact and is said to be Canada‘s largest complex of 19th century buildings of the fur trade. Indeed, Lower Fort Garry still has much of its original architecture, from ramparts and batteries to walls and homes. The site is children friendly, with lots of different activities.


Manitoba history and the penitentiary at Lower Fort Garry, 1871–1877

This article contains historical language and content that some may consider offensive, such as language used to refer to racial, ethnic and cultural groups. Please see our historical language advisory for more information.

The records documenting the Manitoba Penitentiary’s beginnings at the “Stone Fort” (Lower Fort Garry), from 1871 to 1877, are almost as old as the province of Manitoba itself and are a testament to the turbulent origins of the new province. Many of the records from this early period of the penitentiary, such as the Inmate Admittance Books, Warden’s Order Books and Surgeon’s Daily Letters, held at the Winnipeg office of Library and Archives Canada (LAC), are also available online at Canadiana Héritage. There are also various other documents pertaining to the Manitoba Penitentiary held by LAC or other sources, many of which are accessible online. Together, these records supply details about the penitentiary and some of the inmates themselves, providing a fascinating perspective on Manitoba’s early history immediately following its creation in 1870.


Friends of Lower Fort Garry

Bringing New Energy to One of Canada’s Historic Treasures

The Friends of Lower Fort Garry are committed to promoting Canada’s natural and cultural heritage through awareness, educational and sensory experiences. Our passionate group of volunteers seeks out independent and collaborative partnerships with LFGNHS. We also focus on nurturing positive relationships with the community of Selkirk, the Interlake, and the greater Winnipeg area. We welcome you to explore the site and learn more about our offerings, such as the Stone Fort Trading Company gift shop, the Adventurer’s Day Camp, seasonal events, and much more.

Your generosity provides opportunities for us to enhance the Lower Fort Garry NHS as well as to offer educational opportunities for Manitoban’s to learn, grow and explore Canadian History.


Lower Fort Garry

Lower Fort Garry was built 30 km down the Red River from Fort Garry [Winnipeg] during the 1830s as the Hudson's Bay Company's administrative centre for Rupert's Land. It was hoped that the lower fort would be free from the spring flooding that beset the older community and would house a more respectable class of citizen. But the original settlement was well located at the forks of the Assiniboine and Red rivers and even in the 1830s was developing as the natural centre of the Red River Colony.

Although it never achieved the status originally intended, Lower Fort Garry served in a number of minor roles. During the Oregon crisis (see Oregon Treaty) in the 1840s, a British army contingent was stationed at the fort in 1871 some opponents of Louis Riel rallied around Stoughton Dennis there and during the winter of 1873-74 the North-West Mounted Police trained its first recruits at the fort. It later served as the first provincial penitentiary and as an insane asylum.

In the early 20th century it was a residence for Hudson's Bay Company officials, and thereafter was leased to a country club. In 1951 the HBC gave the property to the federal government. It was designated a national historic park and, after restoration carried out in the 1960s and 1970s, the fort is now one of the major historic sites of Parks Canada.


First Nations and Métis People of Red River Settlement (pre and post Confederation)

Red River Settlement was a colony built at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers long before Confederation. It would become the city of Winnipeg.

View of Red River Settlement, (1817) Archives of Manitoba [click to enlarge]

However, those settlers were not the first residents of Red River Settlement.

Most residents were of First Nations and/or Métis/half-breed heritage.

Thousands of First Nation’s people had lived in the region for generations.

French and English explorers and fur traders arrived in the late 1600s and early 1700s and mixed with the First Nations people. Others referred to their children as Half-breeds (Cree/Scots or English) and Métis (Saulteaux/Ojibway and French).

Map of Red River Settlement in 1825 [click to enlarge]

Most residents were of First Nations and/or Métis/half-breed heritage.

Other residents were of European heritage from the countries of Scotland, England, Ireland, Germany, eastern Canada, and the United States. As the population grew, so did the settlement, reaching over a large area of land.

It extended north to Netley Creek, east to St. Boniface and west to White Horse Plains (Headingly).

The areas we now call St. Clements, St. Andrews, Selkirk, and East Selkirk were the northern extensions of Red River Settlement.

Before the concept of Confederation emerged, there was no Canada. There was only open, unbound land, and lots of it. Red River Settlement was among the unbound land, in the centre of the continent with key waterways that enabled travellers to reach it from all directions.

Arrival of Fur Trade

In 1670, the Hudson’s Bay Company and its English and Scottish fur traders arrived on the coast of James Bay in northern Ontario and Quebec, and later Hudson’s Bay in northern Manitoba. When King Charles II of England established the Hudson’s Bay Company, he claimed all lands that drained into Hudson and James Bay.

He called his new territory Rupert’s Land. The territory he claimed was huge, about forty percent of modern-day Canada from Alberta to Quebec and from Hudson Bay south to the northern United States. Red River Settlement was in the territory of Rupert’s Land.

Map of Hudson Bay by Tim Vasquez

European/First Nation Marriage

Many men formed marital unions with Cree women based on Cree marriage custom and ceremony. Both the Cree people and the European traders respected the custom and most unions were long lasting.

Many men formed marital unions with Cree women based on Cree marriage custom and ceremony. Both the Cree people and the European traders respected the custom and most unions were long lasting.

The ancestral Cree did not practice Christianity. They followed their own spiritual traditions, based on Earth-based spiritual teachings that said Nature was divine, and all things in Nature are connected.

The children born to Cree mothers and European fathers shared a rich ancestry of two different continents. However, others looked down on them calling them disrespectful names such as half-breed and mixed-blood. 2 Today, most of their descendants call themselves Métis because they feel the old terms were racist and derogatory. However, the true Métis people hold a much different heritage than those of Cree/Scottish or English heritage. The Métis descend from Saulteaux (Ojibway) mothers and French fathers.

Over time, numerous fur traders and their Cree families moved south toward Red River Settlement where they met with other First Nation groups and European traders. Some of those traders were French from Quebec. They had travelled to the region of Red River in search of furs and riches too.

Along the way, they met a group of First Nations people near the Great Lakes. The French called them Saulteaux (pronounced Soto) meaning people who jump or shoot the rapids. They called them this because the people leaped and jumped across the rapids as they speared fish on the St. Mary’s River near modern day Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario).

Today, Saulteaux descendants call themselves Saulteaux, Ojibway, and/or Anishinaabee. Many French men formed marital unions with Saulteaux women based on Saulteaux marriage ceremony. Their children are the Métis. Most Métis people worked for The North West Company.

Those that moved to the region of Red River Settlement built a fort there called Fort Gibraltar. Several groups of Saulteaux people, including the legendary Chief Peguis, followed those traders. They established new camps on the banks of Netley Creek and places further inland near Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipegosis.

On 1 July 1867, the British North American Act (BNA) passed, creating the Dominion of Canada. After the eastern colonies joined in Confederation, they wanted to link eastern Canada with the west coast of British Columbia and fill the land in-between with immigrant people. One way to do this was to build a transcontinental railway. The railway would cover 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) of swamps, bogs, rivers, prairies, and mountains from eastern Canada to British Columbia. The government named the new railway the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).

The railway would offer a faster, more direct route for long distant travel and an easier way to ship freight. It would also bring thousands of immigrant settlers into Rupert’s Land to build farms and settlements.

This region was home to thousands of First Nations and Métis people and so the government had to develop a plan to make room for the settlers and farmers among the first residents. They did this by issuing scrip to Métis/half-breed people and making Treaties and developing Reservations with First Nations people.

Most Métis people did not oppose either the new province or becoming Canadians. However, they did oppose the government’s secretive way of making the transfer, without the regional people’s consent or input in negotiations.

How Manitoba became a Province

Manitoba became a province and joined Confederation in 1870. However, in order to tell the story of how this came to be we need to go back a little further in history.

  • In 1670, the Hudson’s Bay Company claimed ownership of Rupert’s Land and ruled over it for 200 hundreds.
  • By the mid 1860s, Hudson’s Bay Company officials agreed to transfer the land to the newly formed country of Canada and negotiations began in the late 1860s to create the new province of Manitoba.

The government did not ask the majority of Métis peoples of Red River Settlement or the First Nations peoples of Rupert’s Land if they wanted to become part of the new province or country before negotiations began. Most Métis people did not oppose either the new province or becoming Canadians. However, they did oppose the government’s secretive way of making the transfer, without the regional people’s consent or input in negotiations.

Métis Concerns

The Métis peoples wanted their voices heard in the decision-making process that would surely affect their lives and the lives of generations to follow. They wanted to elect their own government, rather than have British-European politicians in Ottawa govern them.

They sought to preserve Métis rights and culture, and had concerns over the land of which they were born: would the waves of English-speaking settlers invade the lands of their birth and push them out. These were honest concerns as the government had already disregarded the Métis and First Nations people in the land transfer negotiations

In the fall of 1869, the government went ahead with their plan to complete the land transfer. They sent Governor William McDougall to Red River Settlement for negotiations. A patrol of armed Métis guards met him when he arrived and denied him access.

Louis Riel’s Government

Louis Riel’s Provisional Government
2nd row, 3rd from left, Louis Riel
Back row, 3rd from left, Thomas Bunn [click to enlarge]

The Canadian government did finally acknowledge Riel’s provincial government and negotiations between the two forms of government.Métis Leader, Louis Riel moved along.

The government ceded lands to the Métis people and the formation of the province became a reality. On 12 May 1870, the Manitoba Act received royal assent. It went into effect on 15 July 1870. Manitoba became Canada’s fifth province.

Initially the province was small, only about 13,000 square acres. It received the nickname Postage Stamp Province because it was so small. Its northern boundary stopped at modern day Winnipeg Beach. However, provincial boundaries extended in 1881 and again in 1912.

What does the name Manitoba mean?

Map of the postage stamp province of Manitoba [click to enlarge]

Steeped in ancient lore and legend, First Nations ancestors described the region of Manitoba as a place of Spirit, especially so in the narrows of Lake Manitoba northwest of the city of Winnipeg.

There, strong winds send waves crashing against the limestone shore rocks creating a rhythmic surge like the powerful, steady beat of a drum, which the ancestors believed was the heartbeat of the Great Spirit (Creator).

The Cree words Manitou (Great Spirit) and Wapow (Narrows), and the Ojibway word Manitou-aa-bau describe the narrows as a place where the Great Spirit is heard, or where the Great Spirit sits.

During negotiations with the Métis peoples over the transfer of land from the Hudson’s Bay Company to Canada, the Canadian government ceded 1.4 million acres to Métis/Half-breed families residing in the territory at the time of the land transfer. Termed then as the Northwest Half-breed Scrip, today it is Section 31 Manitoba Act Affidavits. Scrip is a term used to “describe a certificate, voucher, etc, establishing the bearer’s right to something.” 3 In this case, the voucher was for land and/or money.

However, the process was fraught with error. First off, the government divided the 1.4 million acres based on an inaccurate census of the province in 1870, excluding several thousand people. As a result, many people did not receive their entitlement. Secondly, the government took over five years to distribute the land to the people. Consequently, hundreds of applicants did not receive their land or money due to death, relocation, or omission. 4 The stigma of describing oneself as a half-breed brought disadvantage, shame and poverty for many and it extinguished any right to future First Nation entitlement.

Scrip of Margaret Sinclair Sutherland, Library and Archives Canada [click to enlarge]

The Canadian Government told the Métis people that no prosecution would befall anyone who participated in the 1869 resistance. The government did not keep that Métis Half-breed scrip application promise.

In the summer of 1870, the government sent a military expedition to Red River to avenge Thomas Scott’s death. They killed one Métis leader of the resistance, and forced others, including Louis Riel, to flee the territory. The government delayed the transfer of land they had promised to the Métis/half-breed peoples. Many people left the region and moved west as the flow of immigrants from Ontario steadily arrived. A major transformation came to the Métis/half-breed people of Red River Settlement.

Peguis/St. Peter’s Band and Settlement

Prior to the region becoming the province of Manitoba, the land between east/west Selkirk and Lake Winnipeg was reservation land. It had belonged to the Peguis/St. Peter’s Band for over fifty years.

On 18 July 1817, Chief Peguis officially claimed it when he and four other indigenous leaders, Le Sonnant, Le Robe Noir, L’homme Noir, and Premier, signed the first treaty of the region along with Lord Selkirk (Thomas Douglas), the first European to officially claim land in the settlement. Known as the Selkirk Treaty, it affirmed land to each of the six signatories. 5

Chief Peguis and Reverend William Cockran

Selkirk Treaty, signed in 1817 – Credit Archives of Manitoba [click to enlarge]

Saulteaux man, possibly Chief Peguis, Sketch by Peter Rindisbacher, Archives of Manitoba [click to enlarge]

Rev. Cockran did convert Peguis and many of his people to Christianity. They began to dress in European style clothing and lived in log houses similar to settler’s houses. The community prospered with the building of several homes, barns, outbuildings, a blacksmith shop, a church, and a school. The people cultivated several acres of land into wheat fields and potato crops and they raised cattle, sheep, and horses. The community extended along both sides of Red River.

Treaty One

After Manitoba became a province, the Canadian government began land negotiations with First Nations people in the region. Many First Nations peoples did not understand the concept of owning land or Confederation. Nor did they speak or write the English language. This put them at a great disadvantage in negotiations with the new Canadian Government.

However, the government moved along in its plan to make room for the railway, European-Canadian settlement and industry. With the First Nations people, the government created a Treaty – a formal and legal agreement with promises and commitments made between the government and the First Nations peoples of the region.

Treaty One Negotiations [click to enlarge]

They established new boundaries to create the first post-Confederation treaty called, Treaty One. It stated the government would receive large tracts of land throughout the province of Manitoba. First Nations peoples received lands as well but much smaller tracts referred to as Reservations. This began the Reservation system in western Canada.

Red Eagle / Henry Prince [click to enlarge]

Treaty One stated that members of the Peguis/St. Peter’s Band were entitled to, “so much of land on both sides of the Red River, beginning at the south line of St. Peter’s Parish, as will furnish one hundred and sixty acres for each family of five.” 6 The new southern boundary of Peguis/St. Peter’s Reserve began slightly south of Sugar Point, the thumb-like piece of land that sticks out into the river near modern-day Selkirk Golf Club.

Residents of East/West Selkirk

During the time of Confederation, residents of the east/west Selkirk region were a multi-cultural group of First Nations, Métis/half-breed peoples, and European immigrants.

Saulteaux/Ojibway People

  • Immigrated from eastern Canada near Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario) in the late 18 th century
  • Settled at Netley Creek and then St. Peter’s Settlement
  • Chief Peguis was the leader of the Band
  • Belonged to Peguis/St. Peter’s Band
  • Traded furs and goods with the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company
  • Some women formed marital unions with French fur traders. They are the ancestors of the Métis people

Cree Peoples

  • Lived on the Plains, Forests, and Swampy regions
  • Immigrated from the north, from places like Norway House, York Factory, and Churchill River
  • Traded furs and goods with the Hudson’s Bay Company mostly
  • Some women formed marital unions with Scottish and English fur traders. Others called their children Half-breeds and/or mixed-bloods

Métis/Half-breed

  • A mix of First Nation and European ancestry
  • Many Métis/half-breed people resided in the Selkirk area and north toward Lake Winnipeg

Non-indigenous peoples

  • Scottish
  • English
  • French
  • Irish
  • German
  • Immigrants from eastern Canada

Did You Know?

  • Winnipeg was once called Red River Settlement.
  • East and west Selkirk were the northern extension of Red River Settlement.
  • Manitoba became a province on 12 May 1870.
  • Louis Riel fought for the rights of the Métis people.
  • Peguis was a Saulteaux chief, also called the Cut-Nose Chief, because he had part of his nose bitten off.
  • The first post-Confederation Treaty, Treaty One, was signed on 3 August 1871 as Lower Fort Garry.

British North American Act (BNA): The BNA Act is the base document for the Canadian Constitution

CPR: Canadian Pacific Railway

cree: A First Nations person

confederation: a union of alliance of provinces or states

first nations: people native or belonging naturally to a place

Fort Garry: A Hudson’s Bay Company fur trade post built at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine River in the early 1800s

half-breed: People of First Nations and European heritage, primarily of English or Scottish fathers and Cree mothers

Hudson’s Bay Company: English based fur-trade company that built fur-trade posts on the coasts of James and Hudson Bay. Its early headquarters was at York Factory on Hudson Bay. It hired only men, primarily of Scottish and English heritage who married Cree woman from North America. It is the oldest commercial corporation in North America.

immigrants: people who moved to a new country

King Charles: King of England (1630-1685) reigned over England, Scotland, and Ireland

Métis: People of First Nations and European heritage, primarily from French fathers and Saulteaux (Ojibway) mothers.

Queen Victoria: Queen of England (1819-1901) was the Queen of England and Ireland from 1837 until her death in 1901.

Red River Settlement: precursor of Winnipeg

reservation: An area of land owned and managed by a community of First Nations peoples

Rupert’s Land : the name given to most of western Canada by King Charles II in 1670

scrip: A term used to describe a certificate or voucher that shows the bearer’s right to something. For example land.

treaty: A formal and legal agreement with promises and commitments made between two groups of peoples.

Publications

Grant, George M., Ocean to Ocean: Sandford Fleming’s Expedition Through Canada in 1872 (Toronto: Prospero Books, 2000)

Hallowell, Irving A., (edited with preface and foreword by Jennifer S. H. Brown), The Ojibwa of Berens River (Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1992)

Mercredi Ovide & Turpel, Mary In the Rapids: Navigating the Future of First Nations (Toronto: Viking, 1993)

Peers, Laura The Ojibway of Western Canada 1780 to 1879 (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1994)

Potyondi, Barry, Selkirk: The First Hundred Years 1882-1982 (1981)

Sealey, D. Bruce and Lussier, Antoine S., The Métis: Canada’s Forgotten People (Pemmican Publications: Winnipeg, 1975)

Sutherland, Donna G. Peguis: A Noble Friend (St. Andrews: Chief Peguis Heritage Park Inc, 2003)

Sutherland, Donna G. Nahoway: A Distant Voice (Petersfield: White Buffalo Books, 2008)

Websites

Local and Provincial Items, Manitoban and Northwest Herald Newspaper, 3 August 1872, On-line at: www.Manitobica.ca

Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba on-line at:
http://www.trcm.ca/

  1. George M. Grant, Ocean to Ocean: Sandford Fleming’s Expedition Through Canada in 1872, p. 66
  2. Donna G. Sutherland, Nahoway: A Distant Voice, p 51-52
  3. Métis National Council at: http://tomcat.sunsite.ualberta.ca/MNC/scrip1.jsp
  4. Métis National Council at: http://tomcat.sunsite.ualberta.ca/MNC/scrip1.jsp also see: D. Bruce Sealey and Antoine S. Lussier, The Métis Canada’s Forgotten People
  5. Donna G. Sutherland Peguis: A Noble Friend, p. 64
  6. Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba on-line at: http://www.trcm.ca/

All material on this site is protected by Canada and international copyright laws. Reproduction and distribution of any material without written permission is prohibited. ©RM of St. Clements Heritage Committee


Lower Fort Garry – Historic Fur Trading Post

On our first visit to Manitoba in over 30 years, we returned to one of our favorite places to refresh our memories. In the summer, you can tour the grounds and meet staff members dressed in correct period costumes, role playing their particular position in the daily life of a fur trading site in the 19th century. You can even take advantage of daily guided tours at certain times of the year. One post on the Canada Park site says the buildings are open year round, but a notice on the Parks Canada website says they are closed for the season and will re-open in Spring 2020. Check the Parks Canada website for specifics on hours, things to do, etc. here.

The fort is located along the Red River near the community of St. Andrews and is about 30 minutes north of Winnipeg. Over the years, Parks Canada restored many of the stone buildings, some of which were original and still standing. The original Fort Garry was located near the forks of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. Destroyed by a flood in 1826, then-Governor George Simpson found the new location on the higher banks at this location downriver.

Nearly every building on the fort featured costumed workers who started every conversation with, “Hello Bonjour”. The costumed staff went about their “daily work” as they explained to visitors about life at the fort in the mid-19th century. Looking over their website as I write this post in early December, the site doesn’t yet have a schedule of activities or fees for 2020 online yet. Guided tours will be available for reservations and other descriptive information including dates, times, and fees.

You can expect to spend 3-4 hours there, especially if you talk to the staff members and give a listen to their descriptions of duties and history in the old world fort.

The fort features a number of historic firsts including the first training site for the Northwest Mounted Police and the signing of Treaty 1 (first treaty with the native Ojibway and Swampy Cree tribes that opened expansion of the western territories.) For a time, it was site of western Canada’s first prison, and it also became the first asylum for the mentally ill.

During the Red River Rebellion of 1870, Louis Riel and his faction occupied then Fort Garry at Winnipeg and the Quebec Rifles took over Lower Fort Garry. That rebellion made Louis Riel a local hero and an outlaw to the Canadian Government. The uprising ultimately led to the creation of Manitoba and the eventual hanging of Louis Riel.

All aspects of life at the fort including a section dedicated to learning about the local native Americans are presented by the staff. On the day we were there, it wasn’t too crowded and we had plenty of time to ask questions and interact with the costumed actors at each station. I submit for your review a gallery of images captured on that beautiful day in late July. As usual, if your browser supports it, you can click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.


Notes

1. Public Archives of Canada (PAC), James Hargrave Correspondence, vol. 7, p. 1716, Duncan Finlayson to Hargrave, 12 August 1839.

2. For a detailed discussion of the role played by native women in the development of fur trade society, see Sylvia Van Kirk, &ldquoMany Tender Ties&rdquo: Women in Fur Trade Society in Western Canada 1670-1870 (Winnipeg: Watson & Dwyer, 1980), chs. 1-6.

3. Hudson&rsquos Bay Company Archives (HBCA), D.5131, f. 247, James Bird to Gov. Simpson, 8 August 1851.

4. HBCA, B.1351c/2. f. 64d, G. Simpson to J. G. McTavish, 10 April 1831.

5. HBCA, Ermatinger Correspondence, Copy 23, f. 271, W. Sinclair to E. Ermatinger, 18 August 1831.

6. HBCA, B.1351c12. f. 106, Simpson to McTavish, 29 June 1833.

7. HBCA, E.4116, f. 243, Register of Marriages Copy of Will of John Thomas, Sr. (1822). In several sources, Anne Christie has been incorrectly identified as the daughter of HBC Governor Thomas Thomas.

8. See Van Kirk, &ldquoMany Tender Ties&rdquo, pp. 153-158, 165.

10. The identity of Alexander Roderick McLeod&rsquos wife has not been discovered. In the papers relating to his estate she is described as &ldquoan Indian Woman of the half breed Caste&rdquo, see HBCA, A.36110, f. 18 Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Records of the General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia, &ldquoFoss vs. Pelly et. al., 16-18 July 1850,&rdquo p. 203.

11. G. P. de T. Glazebrook, ed., The Hargrave Correspondence, 1821-1843 (Toronto: Champlain Society, vol. 24, 1938), pp. 249-50 H.B.C.A., E.411b, f. 248d, Register of Marriages Chief Factor John Stuart who acted as Sarah&rsquos guardian gave his consent to the marriage (HBCA, D.5114, f.275) and the bride received a dowry of £350 from her father (H.B.C.A., D.5112, fos. 243-244).

12. PAC, Hargrave Correspondence. vol. 23, letterbook 14, Hargrave to Mrs. T. Isbister, 28 May 1839 and letterbook 15, Hargrave to J. Ballenden, 7 September 1839.

13. Ibid., vol. 8, p. 1891, Ballenden to Hargrave, 30 January 1841.

14. Public Record Office, England, Prob. 11, 2257, f. 667, Will of John Ballenden (1854).

15. See Van Kirk, &ldquoMany Tender Ties&rdquo, pp. 189-90.

16. Glenbow Foundation Archives, Calgary, James Sutherland Papers, Jas. Sutherland to John Sutherland, 7 August 1838.

17. PAC, Hargrave Correspondence, vol. 8, p. 2193, Finlayson to Hargrave, 18 December 1841.

18. HBCA, D.519, f.373d. D. Finlayson to Simpson, 18 December 1843.

19. Ibid., D.5113, fos. 395d-96, Finlayson to Simpson, 8 April 1845 Provincial Archives of British Columbia (PABC), Donald Ross Papers, John McBeath to Donald Ross, 6 August 1850.

20. HBCA, D.5129, f. 422, Ballenden to Simpson, 30 December 1850 Public Archives of Manitoba (PAM), &ldquoFoss vs. Pelly&rdquo, p. 218.

21. PAC, Hargrave Correspondence, vol. 27, Letitia Hargrave to Flora Mactavish, 1 June 1850.

22. PAM, &ldquoFoss vs. Pelly&rdquo, pp. 202-203.

23. HBCA, D.5123, f. 383, Ballenden to Simpson, 29 November 1848. For further information on Captain Foss and his relations with the Hudson&rsquos Bay Company, see E. E. Rich, ed., Eden Colvile&rsquos Letters, 1849-52 (London: H.B.R.S., vol. 19, 1956).

24. PABC, D. Ross Papers, Wm. Todd to Donald Ross, 20 July 1850.

25. PAM, &ldquoFoss vs. Pelly&rdquo, pp. 185-86, 203.

26. Margaret A. MacLeod, ed., The Letters of Letitia Hargrave (Toronto: Champlain Society, vol. 28, 1947), p. 247.

27. PABC, D. Ross Papers, Robert Clouston to Donald Ross, 29 June 1849.

28. HBCA, D.5130, f. 206, Adam Thom to Simpson, 5 February 1851.

29. MacLeod, Letitia&rsquos Letters, p. 247 see also P.A.C., Hargrave Correspondence, vol. 27, Letitia to her mother, 14 December 1851.

30. PABC, D. Ross Papers, A. E. Pelly to D. Ross, 1 August 1850 P.A.M., &ldquoFoss vs. Pelly&rdquo, pp. 185, 196.

31. Ibid., pp. 183, 193, 213-14.

32. PAC, Hargrave Correspondence, vol. 15, p. 4533, Wm. Todd to Hargrave, 13 July 1850 and p. 4581, John Black to Hargrave, 6 August 1850 PAM, &ldquoFoss vs. Pelly&rdquo, p. 187 MacLeod, Letitia&rsquos Letters, p. 255.

34. HBCA, A.1215, fos. 178-179, Memo for Gov. Simpson.

35. PAM, &ldquoFoss vs. Pelly&rdquo, pp. 199-202.

36. Charges were also to have been laid against the Blacks but these were dropped (MacLeod, Letitia&rsquos Letters, p. 255) PAM, &ldquoFoss vs. Telly&rdquo, p. 181.

37. HBCA, D.4171, fos. 265-266d, Simpson to J. Black, 18 December 1850.

38. PABC, D. Ross Papers, J. Ballenden to Ross, 1 August 1850 HBCA, D.5128, f. 437d, Adam Thom to Simpson, 15 August 1850.

39. Foss never actually collected the £100 from Davidson, maintaining that it was the principle not the money he was really interested in (&ldquoFoss vs. Pelly&rdquo, p. 181).

40. PABC, D. Ross Papers, R. Clouston to Ross, 17 December 1850.

42. PABC, D. Ross Papers, R. Clouston to Ross, 28 September 1850.

43. Rich, Colvile&rsquos Letters, p. 193.

46. This Donald McKenzie had been a lesser officer in the service of the Hudson&rsquos Bay Company he was married to a half-breed woman, Matilda Bruce.

47. Rich, Colvile&rsquos Letters, 195, 197. The published version mistakenly reads Jane instead of Lane.

50. HBCA, D.5130, fos. 47-53, John Black to Simpson, 8 January 1851 and f. 203, Adam Thom to Simpson, 5 February 1851.

51. University of British Columbia Archives (UBCA), W. D. Lane Papers, Folder 1, letter 12, A. G. B. Bannatyne to Lane, 9 January 1851. Colvile (p. 204) states that Mrs. Ballenden went to live at one Cunninghame&rsquos this was likely the home of one of the married daughters of Alexander Ross by that name.

52. Rich, Colvile&rsquos Letters, pp. 204, 210.

53. Will of John Ballenden UBCA, Lane Papers, Bannatyne to Lane, Monday evening, &ldquoPoor Aunt has got a son yesterday morning about 7 o&rsquoclock&rdquo. Like many of the notes between Bannatyne and Lane, this one is not dated, but from other evidence it can be established that it was written on 16 June 1851.

54. Rich, Colvile&rsquos Letters, p. 65.

55. HBCA, D.5131, f. 143d, Black to Simpson, 26 July 1851.

56. Ibid., D.5132, f. 323, Ballenden to Simpson, 5 December 1851.

57. Ibid., D.5131, f. 206, A. Ross to Simpson, 1 August 1851.

58. PABC, D. Ross Papers, G. Barnston to Ross, 22 July 1852.

59. UBCA, Lane Papers, Folder 1, letter 15, Sarah Ballenden to W. D. Lane, 20 July 1852.

60. HBCA, D.4174, f. 212, Simpson to A. McDermot, Feb. 6, 1854 W. J. Healy, Women of Red River (Winnipeg, 1923), p. 195.

61. HBCA, D.5131, f. 206, A. Ross to Simpson, 1 August 1851.

62. MacLeod, Letitia&rsquos Letters, p. 247.

64. PABC, Ross Papers, Wm. Todd to Ross, 20 July 1850.

65. PAM, &ldquoFoss vs. Pelly&rdquo, p. p. 187.

66. HBCA, D.5137, fos. 458-59, Robert Campbell to Simpson, 31 August 1853.


Attractions | Tourism Winnipeg

History unfolds before your eyes at this restored 19th-century fort where costumed staff recreate the 1850s in the Red River Valley. Come and meet the governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company as he strolls through his garden, barter with the company clerk, sit in a teepee and listen to the whispers of ancient legends. Motorized access for mobility challenged visitors is available. The site is open to groups for tours or meetings by pre-registration.

COVID-19 update
Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site is partially open. The gates to the site are open but the historic buildings remain closed to the public.

Take part in the A Walk Through History guided tour offered Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Journey through Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site and immerse yourself in its unique and varied history with our new outdoor walking experience. Take a stroll through the grounds, watch historical demonstrations and participate in interactive activities led by costumed interpreters.

Heritage Adventure Parties at Lower Fort Garry

Choose your own birthday party adventure at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site! Train as a North West Mounted Police officer, take tea time etiquette lessons as a member of the upper class, or learn how to have fun like a fur trader. Best suited for kids ages 6-12.

  • Availability: May - September
  • Length: 2 hours
  • Fee: $161.70 (for group up to 12 children, including birthday child. Larger groups may be accommodated, though price may vary. Call 204-675-6050 or email [email protected] to receive a quote and book your party.)
  • For more information, visit pc.gc.ca/fortgarry/birthday

Say 'Lower Fort Garry'! - ESL program

Are you learning English as a second or foreign language? Put your skills to the test at Lower Fort Garry! Through a fact-finding and photo-taking scavenger hunt, you will have the chance to roam the grounds, interview historic characters and explore the impressive old stone fort.

  • Length: 2 hours
  • Fee: $4.90 per person
  • Call 204-785-6050 or email [email protected] to book
  • Visit https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/mb/fortgarry/activ/edu/esl for more information

Historic Trades Workshops at Lower Fort Garry

Gets hands-on with history! Bake bannock. Craft candles. Make chocolate. Try your hand at one of Lower Fort Garry’s heritage workshops and enjoy the delicious rewards of your labour!


Historical Overview

The development of historical themes for Upper Fort Garry, and the many related stories they generate, rest upon two overarching, yet linked, interpretive historical frameworks: Nation Building and Cultural Conflict and Public Debate. These very broad constructions provide the context for the story of the fort and logically lead to a subset of themes and stories that are integral to telling the history of Upper Fort Garry’s economic, cultural, and political role within Canada and beyond its borders. The theme of nation building captures the fort’s importance in helping to define its economic and governmental influence in shaping the development of western Canada and indeed the values of the country as a whole. At the same time, the convergence of cultures in the 19th century West – Cree, Ojibwa, Dakota, Metis, American, English, Scotch, French-speaking and English-speaking -Canadian — illustrates the conflict between indigenous rights and corporate and national interests a story of contest and, ultimately, of resentment, defiance, assimilation, and exclusion. It is a story that lies at the core of the history of Upper Fort Garry.

But it was the upper fort’s role in governance, nominally by the Hudson’s Bay Company, and later by the Provisional Government under Louis Riel, that resulted in the founding of Manitoba, the extension of Canada’s rule throughout the Northwest and, ultimately, the entry of British Columbia (1871) and the Arctic (1880) into Confederation.

The importance of Upper Fort Garry in the 19th century — and its ultimate influence on commerce, culture, and urbanization in the 20th century — is summarized by the set of themes outlined below. Many of these themes can be interpreted both locally and globally and capture a wide range of stories conveying a variety of events, and meanings. They centre on such topics as trade, governance, cultural divergence and convergence, and the fort’s role as a western entrepot and gateway. From these larger narratives will come a host of stories that can be told at the site using different media.

--> The Friends of Upper Fort Garry through its Content Advisory Committee, with input from interested heritage professionals, have developed a number of interpretive themes to capture the story of Upper Fort Garry and its crucial role in the history of Manitoba and the Canadian West. At the meeting with heritage professionals a total of eleven themes were developed. However, these eleven themes contain some overlap and they have been condensed here to the seven topics outlined below. These themes also represent a refinement of earlier topics put forward by the Content Advisory Committee.

The development of historical themes for Upper Fort Garry, and the many related stories they generate, rest upon two overarching, yet linked, interpretive historical frameworks: Nation Building and Cultural Conflict and Public Debate. These very broad constructions provide the context for the story of the fort and logically lead to a subset of themes and stories that are integral to telling the history of Upper Fort Garry’s economic, cultural, and political role within Canada and beyond its borders. The theme of nation building captures the fort’s importance in helping to define its economic and governmental influence in shaping the development of western Canada and indeed the values of the country as a whole. At the same time, the convergence of cultures in the 19th century West – Cree, Ojibwa, Dakota, Metis, American, English, Scotch, French-speaking and English-speaking -Canadian — illustrates the conflict between indigenous rights and corporate and national interests a story of contest and, ultimately, of resentment, defiance, assimilation, and exclusion. It is a story that lies at the core of the history of Upper Fort Garry.

But it was the upper fort’s role in governance, nominally by the Hudson’s Bay Company, and later by the Provisional Government under Louis Riel, that resulted in the founding of Manitoba, the extension of Canada’s rule throughout the Northwest and, ultimately, the entry of British Columbia (1871) and the Arctic (1880) into Confederation.

The importance of Upper Fort Garry in the 19th century — and its ultimate influence on commerce, culture, and urbanization in the 20th century — is summarized by the set of themes outlined below. Many of these themes can be interpreted both locally and globally and capture a wide range of stories conveying a variety of events, and meanings. They centre on such topics as trade, governance, cultural divergence and convergence, and the fort’s role as a western entrepot and gateway. From these larger narratives will come a host of stories that can be told at the site using different media.


Lower Fort Garry - History

The available specific data show that the Fort Vancouver bakery of 1844 contained two brick ovens, each having a chimney at its west end. Archeological evidence proves that they were placed side by side on cobblestone foundations 1.6 feet to 2.0 feet wide enclosing a space with outside dimensions of about 25.0 feet north-south and 15.0 feet east-west. From information found in inventories it is almost certain that tiles were employed in the oven structures in addition to brick, very probably at least on the oven floors since, as has been seen in the previous chapter, tiles were often used for this purpose in ovens in which biscuits were baked. [1]

But most other construction details remain unknown. Among them are the thickness of the oven walls, the interior shape and dimensions of each oven, the height of the oven floors above the ground, the height of the oven arches, whether the chimney entrances were within or without the oven doors, whether there were arches under the ovens, and how far apart the ovens were. In a reconstruction such features will have to be designed upon the basis of the general practice of the time as determined by available comparative data.

For assistance in determining what the general practice was, if indeed there was one, there are presented below descriptions of ovens believed to be of about the same size, type, and function as those at Fort Vancouver. Since the basic design of wood-burning ovens did not change greatly during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the dates of the examples are not of major importance for our purposes. On the other hand, the cultural heritages reflected in the designs do appear significant to a certain degree.

This conclusion brings up a difficult question. Did the ovens at Fort Vancouver reflect the national backgrounds of the predominantly Scottish officers at the post or of the French Canadians who operated and probably actually constructed the bakery? No decision seems possible, but the present writer is inclined to feel that the officers did the designing, perhaps on the basis of some English precedent, plan, or manual as yet unidentified.


Ovens at Lower Fort Garry, Manitoba

In the Historic Structures Report Historical Data Fort Vancouver , vol. I, pp. 53-54, it was suggested that the two existing sets of bake ovens (three bakery structures survive, but only two have ovens) at the Hudson's Bay Company's Lower Fort Garry on Red River might serve as models to a certain extent for several features of the reconstructed Fort Vancouver ovens. That suggestion still seems to have a degree of validity, but caution must be used in accepting the theory that the Fort Garry ovens faithfully reflect oven technology at Company posts during the mid-1800's.

Since the Historic Structures Report was written, it has been learned that the ovens which must have most closely resembled the ones at Fort Vancouver, those in the Northwest Bastion, probably originally dated from the period 1846-1848 rather than 1831-1847 as heretofore understood. This fact would not of itself present a serious problem, but it is now apparent that every trace of the original 1846-1848 ovens may have been removed from the bastion in 1911. [2]

The present ovens in the Northwest Bastion, therefore, are reconstructions. The evidence used as the basis for the rebuilding is not clear to the present writer, but the extant ovens so well correspond with general descriptions of bake ovens of the period that apparently a serious effort was made to achieve accuracy in restoration. [3]

At any rate, the information on the twin ovens in the Northwest Bastion is repeated here for what it is worth. This oven complex was considerably smaller than that at Fort Vancouver, the outside dimensions of the foundations being about 14'9" x 8'8". Each of the two baking chambers was rectangular in shape, 5' long and 4'3" wide, with a vaulted ceiling about 3'3" high at the top of the arch.

The ovens were built largely of stone, though some brick was used about the oven entries. The ovens were vaulted on the outside as well as inside, being placed side by side with a common wall about three feet thick between them. The side and rear oven walls were somewhat more than a foot thick, while the common front wall was about 2'8" through. The floors (or hearths as they were termed) of the baking chambers were level with the bottoms of the doors. A flue led in a slanting direction from the top front of each oven to a common chimney at the front end of the ovens. Air spaces at the sides and rear of the joined ovens separated the heated elements from the walls of the bakery.

Figure 4. Diagram of one of two baking chambers in the Stable, Lower Fort Garry.

The construction of these twin ovens is illustrated by the photographs in Plates III and IV. Further details are given in Plate V, a drawing based on measurements made during a visit to Fort Garry by Architect A. L. Koue and Historian J. A. Hussey on September 20, 1967.

There is a second bakery at Lower Fort Garry, located in a building designated as the Men's House or Stable. Although this complex of two separate ovens appears to date from a later period of military occupancy, it has features which may be applicable at Fort Vancouver. In particular, the height of the oven hearths above the bakery floor, 40 inches, would seem more suitable for large-scale bakery operations than the back-breaking 24 inches of the Northwest Bastion ovens. The dimensions and general design of one of these ovens are shown in Figure 4 on the following page. What apparently is a photograph of these ovens before restoration is shown in Plate VI.


An "ordinary" British baker's oven

According to one authority, the "ordinary" baker's oven in Britain was a vaulted chamber, about 10 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 30 inches high at the top of the arch. [4] A perusal of a number of sources concerning early baking in England confirms this very general observation and adds the further information that the baking chamber was sometimes oval in shape and sometimes rectangular, one not being obviously favored more than the other.

But when one comes across some of the very few available detailed descriptions of British ovens, it is difficult to find a reflection of this general picture in the specifications given. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that the persons who prepared these descriptions were more interested in advocating new or "improved" models of ovens than in depicting the more common, antiquated types.

Such may have been the case with John Claudius Loudon, an industrious compiler of handbooks on agriculture and architecture. In his book Cottage, Farm, and Villa Architecture , published in 1844, he presented a plan for a "common country oven," which he described as "a rude kind of oven adapted for new countries, where it is frequently necessary to use for fuel green boughs."

In his introductory remarks before describing this oven, Loudon stated, "The ordinary size of Bakers' ovens is from eight to twelve feet square . . . . The height of a baker's oven is about eighteen inches in the centre, in ovens of the smallest size, and two feet in those which are larger. "The lower and flatter the arch is, he continued, "the more easily is the oven heated, and the more equally does it give out its heat. The sides of the oven need never be higher than a foot . . . and there can be no reason why the roof of the oven should be higher in the centre than at the sides, except that it is impossible to build the soffit of an arch perfectly flat. The floor of the oven is laid with tile, and the arch is formed of fire-brick, fire-stone, or trap, set in fire-clay, or in loam mixed with powdered brick. The whole is surrounded by a large mass of common brickwork, to retain the heat." [5]

The plan for Loudon's "Oven for Green Wood" is reproduced in Figure 5. The description of this oven as given by Loudon is as follows:

Oven for Green Wood . Fig. 1367 [see Figure 5] is a ground plan of a common country oven, in which a is the floor of the oven b , the sill of the door and c c , holes in the floor, communicating with a tunnel below, for the purpose of admitting air to urge combustion, when green wood is burned. Fig. 1368 is a longitudinal section on the line A B, in which d is one of the openings for the introduction of fresh air to the green fuel, but which is closed by a fire-brick, or by building up the entrance to the funnel, b [ sic , h ?], when dry fuel is used e is a flue from the highest part of the arch of the oven, for conveying away the smoke to the chimney, g , when green fuel is used, but which is closed by a stopper at i , when the oven is heated by dry fuel f is the door to the oven, and g the chimney. When dry fuel is used, the orifices at d and i are closed, and the fuel, being introduced at f , is ignited there, and pushed forward to the centre of the oven, where it burns till consumed, or till the oven is sufficiently heated the smoke passing out by the upper part of f , and ascending the chimney, g . When sufficient heat has been obtained, which is between 250° and 300°, and which the baker knows by experience, never using a thermometer, the floor of the oven is cleaned out, and the bread introduced the door, f , and the stopper, i , are then closed for a short period after which a very small opening is made, by loosening the stopper, i , to admit the escape of the vapour exhaled from the bread. This vapour, or whatever proceeds from the door, f , when it is opened either to examine or to take out the bread, ascends by the open chimney, g . Fig. 1365 is a transvers section on the line C D and fig. 1366 is a front elevation, showing the door to the oven, k , and the opening to the tunnel below, l . Ovens of this description are in general use in France but in those of Paris, where dry wood is always used, the funnels, d and e , are seldom made use of, but to cool the oven, or to admit of the escape of the vapour from the bread. It may be observed, also, that, in some of the ovens of Paris, the fuel, instead of being burned on the general surface of the hearth, is consumed in iron gratings or baskets, placed over the openings, c c , whic: is found a more rapid and economical mode of heating, than that of making a fire on the floor of the oven. [6]

Figure 5. Design for an English "common country oven" for green wood, c. 1830-1860. (From J. C. Loudon, Cottage, Farm, and Villa Architecture , 721.)

Several features of Loudon's oven appear to require comment. First, it will be noted that the main flue or chimney is situated in front of the oven door. Second, flue e — i and air holes c c ( d ) were to be closed off when dry fuel was burned therefore these orifices were undoubtedly absent in many older ovens for which the fuel was routinely dried before use. [7] Third, the arch or "tunnel" ( l ) under the oven serves in Loudon's example as a part of the draft system but as shall be seen by other plans presented in this chapter, the arch quite frequently had no function other than to strengthen the oven structure, save materials, and serve as a place for drying fuel. Many ovens had no such arches at all.


A French bake oven, c. 1760

Denis Diderot's great Encyclopédie contains a description of commercial baking as it was conducted in France about the middle of the eighteenth century. One of the magnificent plates gives a plan of a typical French bake oven of that period. [8] It is reproduced in Figure 7.

Figure 6. An English bake oven, c. 1847. This apparently somewhat generalized drawing seems to indicate that the chimney opening in this oven was inside the oven door. (From an unidentified clipping in a scrapbook at the Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, England, through the courtesy of Mr. J. A. Creasey, Assistant Keeper.)

It will be noted that the chimney in this French oven is placed outside the oven door and that there is no flue connecting the baking chamber and the chimney. Also, there are no air holes-leading from the arch under the oven to the baking chamber.

Figure 7. Diagram of a typical French bake oven, c. 1760. The letters ABCD outline the oven opening. The line FE indicates an iron plate for closing the oven mouth. The letters GH mark the hood, while M indicates the chimney. (From Diderot, Encyclopédie , I, section on "Boulanger," figures 1 and 2.)

The oven door shown in the diagram is a sheet-iron plate which drops down. Other French ovens, however, had side-opening iron doors quite similar to those generally found on British ovens. Such a door, also pictured in Diderot, is shown, with typical hinge pins, in Figure 8.

Figure 8. French bake oven door, c. 1760, with typical hinge pins for seating in mortar. (From Diderot, Encyclopédie , V, section on "Serrurier," Plate VIII.)


Wood-burning oven recommended by the Subsistence Department.

A manual, Bread and Bread Making , published in Washington, D. C., in 1864 for the use of army subsistence officers, contained plans and specifications for a wood-burning bake oven which was said to "have been advantageously used" for baking bread by the Subsistence Department. By 1882, when the same plan appeared in another handbook issued by the Commissary General of Subsistence, this type of oven was described as an "old style wood burning oven." [9] A National Park Service historian and an architect who studied the 1876 bakery at Fort Laramie National Historic Site in 1969 were unable to determine how extensively the plans for this type of wood-burning oven were actually employed by the army. "No plans actually showing such an oven constructed at an army post were found," they reported. [10]

Perhaps, like Loudon's oven, this one represented an ideal which was seldom realized in fact. But the plans are among the few available for nineteenth century wood-burning ovens, and they are therefore reproduced here in Figure 9.

Figure 9. Drawings of wood-burning oven recommended for use by the U. S. Army, 1864. (From Bread and Bread Making [Washington, D. C., 1864], 25-26.)

The dimensions and other specifications for the oven pictured in Figure 9 are as follows:

In case the bricks employed are of different dimensions from the above the necessary allowance must be made. [11]

For a single oven of the size indicated, 13,716 bricks, 14 barrels of lime, and 210 bushels of sand would be required. For two adjoining and united ovens the materials needed would be 23,848 bricks, 24 barrels of lime, and 360 bushels of sand. These estimates include "a brick hearth for each Oven." It was recommended that fire brick be used wherever there was contact with flame, though common brick could be used in such situations but would last only two or three years. Ordinary mortar was considered best for use in ovens except where it would be touched by fire. In such locations fire-clay was recommended. [12]

Concerning means of reinforcing this type of oven, the anonymous author of Bread and Bread Making had the following to say: "Both wood and coal ovens require additional strengthening. Abutments of masonry, and other means, have been employed. The best method, perhaps, is by passing ties of wrought iron through the masonry, transversely, and from front to rear . . . . If round, they should be at least 7/8 in. in diameter, if rectangular, about 1-1/2 in. x 5/8 in. Between the washers and the masonry, on each end, pieces of scantling or timber, about 4 in. thick, should be introduced. The expansion caused by heat will affect the oven to such an extent as to require frequent attention to these ties." [13]

It was advised that "great precaution" be taken to have the oven arch of the proper height. If the arch was too high the bread would be baked too much on the bottom while the top would be unbaked. When making this arch, the first six courses of brick from the side walls should be laid in mortar. The remainder of the arch should be laid dry and the interstices filled in with grouting of mortar or cement. The arch was laid, of course, over a removable frame. [14]

The author of the pamphlet admitted that objections had been made to the back flue in the wood oven on the grounds that it allowed too much hot air to escape. Such losses would not occur, he claimed, if all flues were tightly closed by dampers when the oven reached proper temperature and the fire was withdrawn. The rear flue permitted a more even distribution of the heat, he claimed. [15]

The arch under the oven was "desirable" if the ground upon which the oven was built was "wanting in firmness or solidity," but there were certain unspecified objections to this lower arch. At any rate, this arch was considered to be a convenient place for drying wood or for the temporary storage of ashes. [16]

When Major George Bell prepared his manual, Notes on Bread Making , for the Commissary General of Subsistence in 1882, he supplied more details concerning mortar, fire clay, bricks, and other technical matters. The formulas for mixing the various types of mortars and groutings are not repeated here because they surely were not those employed by Hudson's Bay Company artisans on the Columbia and because they are easily available to National Park Service personnel in Appendix No. 2 to Sheire and Pope, Historic Structures Report, Part II, The 1876 Bakery, HB#10. Fort Laramie National Historic Site . A complete copy of Bell's pamphlet is in the Fort Laramie Research File, Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation, Washington.

But one or two of the more general bits of information contained in Bell's booklet merit particular note. First, his diagrams of ovens show pavement in front of them at the bakery floor level. In view of the fact that hot embers frequently fell from the oven doors as the ashes were being removed, it would seem that such an area of brick, tile, or stone must have been a necessity in bakeries with wooden floors. Or perhaps, as the Hudson's Bay Company did with its stoves, a protective sheet of metal was placed before the ovens. Second, the ovens shown in Bell's diagrams were not composed of solid masonry as were those in the 1864 pamphlet. Rather, sand was used as filling material both over the baking chamber and beneath it (between the bottom of the oven floor and the top of the archway under the oven). [17]

As a result of studying Bell's plans as well as a number of drawings of military ovens of the latter half of the nineteenth century, National Park Service Historian James Sheire and Architect Charles S. Pope concluded that at that time "period oven design almost always located the flue [chimney] at the front of the ovens." The hot air from the fire circulated around the oven, front to back and back to front and out the flue. [18] This finding seems to confirm the view that ovens such as those advocated by Loudon, by the 1864 manual, and by Bell, with their multiple flues, were somewhat more complex than those in general use, particularly in frontier situations.


Watch the video: Lower Fort Garry


Foundation ( g ) of brick, or rubble stone masonry, depth 18 inches.

Body of Oven, ( a ) Length in clear12 feet.
Width in clear9 ft. 4 in.
Height from hearth to crown (in centre)23 inches.
Height at sides and back11 inches.

Arch underneath Oven, ( c ) Width span8 ft. 5 in.
Height at centre3 ft. 8 in.
Height from hearth18 inches.
Length from front to rear14 feet.

Arched entrance to Oven In front, i.e. Width5 feet.
flush withHeight at centre2 ft. 6 in.
front faceHeight at sides18 inches.
In rear, i.e. Width2 ft. 8 in.
flush withHeight at centre18 inches.
Oven doorHeight at sides14 inches.

Main flue, ( d )14 in. x 14 in.
Back flue, ( e )9 in. x 5 in.
Smoke flue, ( f )14 in. x 4-1/2 in.
Distance from front of main flue to Oven door4 inches.
Distance from back of back flue to back wall 2 feet.
Distance from back of smoke flue to Oven door2 inches.
Oven door, ( b ), cast iron2 feet wide x 14 inches high.
Hearth of Oven above floor3 ft. 4 in.
Height of mass of masonry above foundation6 ft. 8 in.
Distance from front to rear of same15 ft. 6 in.
Thickness of side and back walls18 inches.
Thickness of division wall between two adjacent Ovens14 inches.
Maximum thickness of front wall27 inches.
Chimney, exterior dimensions2 feet 7 inches x 22 inches.
The height of the chimney to be regulated by circumstances, such as draft, nature of roof, &c., &c.
Dimensions of brick used
8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/4