by Tanner Garnham
The area now called Portage la Prairie, Manitoba is the traditional territory of and home to various Indigenous nations including the Anishinaabe/Ojibwe, Cree, and Dakota/Sioux peoples. French explorers came in 1738. Pierre Gaultier de La Vérendrye, a French fur trader, established Fort La Reine, located just north of the Assiniboine River, as a post. It was a base for Northwest Company explorers as they continued their expeditions throughout Western North America.
Today, the Fort la Reine Museum exhibits Portage la Prairie’s history. Located on the outskirts of town, it features twenty-five unique heritage structures, depicting elements of the region’s history from 1738 – 1950.
Fort la Reine was used to trade, gather supplies, and as a rest stop for fur traders. This image depicts voyageurs, Indigenous peoples, and others accessing the fort by river during the fur trading days.
This monument was erected in 1925 to mark the location of the original Fort la Reine. Adjacent to the Assiniboine River, the location is now home to Portage la Prairies water treatment plant.
A full-sized replica of Fort la Reine can be found at the Fort la Reine Museum. Often in the summer, demonstrations of historical aspects of fort life take place there.