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This article was published 4/5/2009 (3913 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG — A piece of Manitoba history has been destroyed by the flooding Red River.
But thankfully, the metal plaque that was on the stone cairn marking where Fort Douglas was located has been found on the riverfront.
Ernest Cucheron, who sends photographs to the blog-site www.chrisd.ca, said he was walking along Waterfront Drive when he saw the receding flood waters had exposed a pile of stones where the cairn used to be.
"It had been underwater," Cucheron said Monday.
"Then I saw the driftwood and that's when I saw it (the plaque). It had been embedded in concrete and there was a bit of concrete still on it."
The cairn marks the site of Fort Douglas, a Hudson's Bay Company fort built in the early 1800s. The site is at the end of Alexander Avenue where it meets the Red River.
At the water's edge, a large pile of driftwood has now washed up, along with a smashed green park bench.
Beside the pile of stones where the cairn used to be, two Canada geese were sunning themselves on the exposed grass on Monday.
Cucheron said he lives in Point Douglas and drives by the spot daily.
"They probably should have put (the cairn) up higher."
John Perrin, a member of the board of managers of the St. Andrew's Society of Winnipeg, said the organization is pleased the plaque was found and will be returned.
"It will definitely be rebuilt — I have no doubt about it," Perrin said.
"We'll be wanting to thank (Cucheron) personally."
Perrin said the cairn was underwater during the Flood of the Century in 1997, but it wasn't harmed.
He said the cairn was unveiled by then-mayor Bill Norrie and the then-Lord Selkirk in the late 1980s.
Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg, said "I'm very pleased that a piece of history has been rescued and returned."
Blogger Chris D said the cairn was destroyed by the severe ice jams on the river.
"The same ice jams that took out several homes further north of the city," he said.
"The historical monument didn't stand a chance of remaining intact. Luckily, the plaque was picked up and saved, before it, too, was washed away."
Meanwhile, Capt. Steve Hawchuk, owner of Paddlewheel Riverboats, said it looks like another season for his pleasure-cruising tour boats will begin from St. John's Park instead of their regular home at the Alexander Docks.
"The (Alexander Docks) are still there, but they're under eight feet of water," Hawchuk said.
"The docks should be OK. I think the water was high and the ice went over the docks — at least that's the hope."
Hawchuk said during his 40 years of cruising the city's rivers it wasn't until 1993 that the water was so high he couldn't get under all of the bridges.
Now, Hawchuk said, it's almost an annual ritual.
"It has happened 13 out of 15 years now."
Hawchuk said while his boats will be plying the waters in the next few weeks, he expects it will be late May or early June until the Red and Assiniboine rivers are down to normal summer levels.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.