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Fort Gibraltar set for structural upgrades due to funding

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From left to right: Sabine Trégouët, Ian McAmmond and Stephen Challes entertain visitors this past February at Festival du Voyageur in a cabin that would have been used by voyageurs when the river was frozen during the winter. The cabin is located at Fort Gibraltar, which will undergo rehabilitation and restoration work in light of $100,000 of provincial funding under the Winnipeg Community Infrastructure Program.

SIMON FULLER Enlarge Image

From left to right: Sabine Trégouët, Ian McAmmond and Stephen Challes entertain visitors this past February at Festival du Voyageur in a cabin that would have been used by voyageurs when the river was frozen during the winter. The cabin is located at Fort Gibraltar, which will undergo rehabilitation and restoration work in light of $100,000 of provincial funding under the Winnipeg Community Infrastructure Program. Photo Store

Winnipeg’s historic Fort Gibraltar is in line for some upgrades.

The provincial government is kicking in $100,000 under the Winnipeg Community Infrastructure Program, which will help Festival du Voyageur make renovations to the landmark site in St. Boniface, it has been announced.

Officials say the funding will be used to rehabilitate the wooden palisade and three cabins located in Fort Gibraltar and renovations will include replacement of roofs, eavestroughs, rotten logs and cement, as well as insulation of the cabins.

The historic site is a multi-use facility that hosts the annual Festival du Voyageur, which is billed as Western Canada’s largest winter festival, as well as summer interpretive tours, historical activities and educational programming, organizers say.

"This fort and the internationally famously annual winter festival are culturally and historically significant to Winnipeg and a major tourist attraction for our province," said Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux in a news release in light of the funding announcement on Sept. 19.

"Funding the renovations to this site clearly demonstrates our support of Manitoba’s unique French heritage and Canada’s fur-trading past that are both still evident in our province’s strong entrepreneurial spirit and joie de vivre we enjoy year-round.     

"Fort Gibraltar serves as a reminder of the life and times of the people who originally settled and lived in this area. Through its preservation, it will stand as an educational opportunity to recognize our roots while advancing the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the dedication and determination that continues to shape our dynamic province," Lemieux added.

According to www.fortgibraltar.com, the site has a storied history. Historians say Fort Gibraltar was built in 1809 by the North West Company and captured and destroyed by the Selkirk Colony in 1816. It was rebuilt by the North West Company a year later, and when the company merged with Hudson’s Bay Company in 1821, the fort continued operations under HBC’s standard.

In 1822, Fort Gibraltar’s name was changed to Fort Garry and 13 years later it was abandoned, although its warehouses were still used. In 1852. The fort was destroyed by the Red River flood and it was eventually rebuilt by Festival du Voyageur in 1978.

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