Prince of Wales Fort

Churchill, Canada

The Prince of Wales Fort is a historic Bastion fort on Hudson Bay across the Churchill River from Churchill, Manitoba.

The European history of this area starts with the discovery of Hudson Bay in 1610. The area was recognized as important in the fur trade and of potential importance for other discoveries. The fort is built in a European 'star' shape.

The first wooden fort was built in 1717 by James Knight of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and was originally called the 'Churchill River Post'. In 1719, the post was renamed Prince of Wales Fort, but is more commonly known today as Fort Prince of Wales. It was located on the west bank of the Churchill river to protect and control the Hudson's Bay Company's interests in the fur trade.

The original wooden fort was replaced by a massive stone fort, perhaps to abide by the Royal Charter which required that Rupert's Land should be fortified. Construction of this fort, a structure still standing today, was started in 1731 near what was then called Eskimo Point. It was in the form of a square, with sides 100 metres long and walls six metres tall and 10 metres thick at the base.

It had forty-two cannons mounted on the walls. There was also a battery across the river on Cape Merry meant to hold six more cannons. Work on the fort continued almost without break until 1771, but it was never truly completed.

In the 1780s, the French government launched a 'Hudson Bay Expedition' to damage HBC activities in that bay. Three French warships of the Expedition, led by Jean-François de La Pérouse, captured the Prince of Wales Fort in 1782. The fort was manned by only 39 (non-military) men at the time, and the fort's Governor, Samuel Hearne, recognised the numerical and military imbalance and surrendered without a single shot being fired. The French partially destroyed the fort (but its mostly-intact ruins survive to this day).

The fort returned to the HBC in 1783. Thereafter, its importance waned with the decline in the fur trade although the post was refounded a little way up the river. The remains of these buildings still stand in the Fort, although none of them are intact, with roofs long since deteroriated.

After the construction of the Hudson Bay Railway to Churchill was completed in 1929, railway labour and railway construction equipment was used to restore the fort. Restoration work was also performed in the late 1950s. Archaeological investigations at and around the fort began in 1958.

Since 2005, Parks Canada archaeologists have been working in and around the fort in conjunction with a large-scale wall stabilization work and a fort interpretation program.

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Details

Founded: 1731
Category: Castles and fortifications in Canada

More Information

en.wikipedia.org
www.pc.gc.ca

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

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User Reviews

Niroshan Mirando (6 months ago)
Absolutely love this place.
Steve Ens (11 months ago)
What an amazing story. Also we were fortunate enough to see a polar bear as we left the fort with our guide.
Johann Loewen (11 months ago)
Great place with interesting history. The staff of Parks Canada here were very nice and passionate about their job.
J Brown (12 months ago)
Was here by dog sled years ago when Prince Charles was up there to attend Fort. We were up there to handle the Aircraft stairs truck. 1993 ish. Will upload photos soon. Very cool to see it with out the snow ❄
Rod Salm (2 years ago)
I'm biased here as I used to live in Churchill. Having admitted that, this fort is an incredible part of Canadian history. Parks Canada has made it more accessible than ever and you should take the time out of your life to visit.
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